Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hospitalero Rap Song from Santa and Roslyn

After we hiked the Camino Portuguese and then volunteered out 2 weeks in Najara, we flew to Santa’s sister in South Africa. When we landed in Cape Town SA, and met her sister, we immediately, in the airport, started singing our rapsong, swinging “Najara umbrellas”, with back packs and  hiking boots on, doing prepracticed actions in sync with each other.  Everyone stopped to watch, so fun. Here are the words

The Peregrino Rap

We came a long way

To do this play

Our trip was hard

The leaning played a big part


The walk was sometimes strenuous

For people like us two geniuses

And the “carrot” at the end

Was this new fashion trend

Of boots made for the road

And everything we need in this load


So when you take us to Franshook

You better get used to this look

In Kruger it will be the norm

When we walk like this at dawn


New friends were made the whole time through

Now we are here to stay with you.

We trekked through Portugal and Spain

We even tried to like the rain

Soon toilets and showers became our reality

Any longer and it would be our fatality

What we need now is care and fun

After this whole charade is done


Roslyn and Santa


Thursday, October 30, 2014

A month in Pieros

Donna served at a private albergue in Pieros and kept a blog during her month of service. Lots of pictures and a real view into life at an albergue as a hospitalera. She said that is was the "best month of my life".

Enjoy the read!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Report from Zamora

Hola Amigos,

We've been working as hospitaleros and welcoming peregrinos to our albergue (pilgrim's hostel) in Zamora since Thursday, October 16. Our albergue is on the right side of this street.

Zamora is a beautiful ancient town, in existence since before the Romans conquered it over 2,150 years ago. The site of many battles between Moors and Christians between the 7th and 11th centuries, it became heavily fortified.
Our albergue is built into the ancient city wall on a ramp coming up off the Río Duero. Pilgrims cross over this roman bridge before climbing into the city and passing our doors. First they pass our kitchen door, then continue climbing and winding around to our front door 2 stories higher. 
We took over from the previous hospitaleros - Randy from Corvallis, Oregon and Gabriella from northern Italy
We welcomed Fatima Carbonell from Cadiz, España, the 3,000th guest in the albergue this year, on October 19. We never know how many guests we will have. We had 21 pilgrims that night, the most in a month and a half. 
The 19th of October was the first anniversary of our wedding, when we surprised 75 guests at our open house by getting married. It seemed only appropriate that the guests at our anniversary dinner were all a surprise to us. We had 19 for dinner. 2 Swedes, 1 Portugese, 12 Spaniards, 2 Australians and us. We toasted Fatima, our 3,000th peregrina, then ourselves and then had dinner. Conversation is primarily in Spanish with a little English and other languages thrown in. We nod our heads and smile a lot when people speak too fast. 
We cook dinner each night and the peregrinos wash the dishes.
And sometimes provide after dinner music.
The next morning, Pam put the finishing touches on the breakfast table.
Note the tomatoes with olive oil and salt nearby for españoles, as well as yogurt, müesli and Nutella for Northern Europeans. Making peregrinos feel like there having breakfast at the Paradore before they leave fills them with animo and probably pays for itself in last minute donativos (but who's looking?)
After everyone left, we cleaned up the albergue.
That's the 2,000 year old city wall behind Steve to the right, with a somewhat newer wall to the left. 

We have settled in to this life and enjoy it a lot, we're talking about doing it again. We love Zamora, the people are very friendly and this albergue is beautiful and very special. 

A day in the life of a hospitalero - 

Each day starts at 7 am when we prepare breakfast - coffee, tea, hot milk, toast, jam, olive oil and tomatoes (spaniards love it on toast) juices, yogurt and muesli (for Germans and Northern Europeans), cereals. 

We cue up Gregorian chant music on the PA system when breakfast starts at 7:30, that way the CD will play Andrea Bocelli singing 'Time to Say Goodbye' at 8:30 sharp, right when pilgrims need to be out the door and on their way. We hug most of them farewell. 

We clean, sweep, mop and scrub everything from the kitchen to the toilets (in that order.) Pillow cases are washed after each use, sheets every two uses unless they look dirty. We count the past day's donations, no charges here, we are strictly 'donativo', donations as you can comfortably afford only. Then we have a few hours to go shopping for food, see the town and have a little personal time. We like to get a quick nap in before we are back 'on'.

We open the doors again for pilgrims at 2 pm, and it all begins again. We greet peregrinos  warmly, offering iced tea, cold water and a bowl full of fruit to choose from. We have some relaxing background music, from classical to light rock and John Lennon's 'Imagine'. Repetition of some of the music is starting to grow (ear worms) on us. 

We register peregrinos for their stay, stamp their pilgrim's credentials and show them around. We take turns cooking dinner, which is served communally at 7:30. We've had incredible company for dinner, with great mixed language conversations. Peregrinos always offer to wash the dishes and we always accept. We lock the doors at 10 pm, the lights go off and we all turn in for the night.  

In our first 8 days, our 66 peregrinos have come from:
Spain 33
Germany 9
Ireland 3
Korea 2
Australia 2 
Sweden 2
Canada 2
Estonia 2
Italy 2
New Zealand 1
Latvia 1
France 1
Hungary 1
UK 1
Portugal 1
Belgium 1
Brazil 1

44 are Men and 22 are Women. 

We have another week until we hand off our duties and move on. 

We hope that you are all well. 

With Love y Abrazos from Steve y Pam. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Roslyn and Santa in Nájera

This first missive written on 13th October s from Santa and Roslyn, from Victoria BC, and is directed at Tom, who will be in Nájera, serving as hospitalero, on December 1. It is clear from what they write that the role of hospitalero is very much appreciated by the local people. And three days later, after they had completed their service, they wrote again. Read on!

13 October, 2014
Thank you for keeping in touch with us. Greatly appreciated. Santa says you will be coming here December 1. You will really like it. We have been having 70 pilgrims per night, which is a lot for one room but it has been a lot of fun every night. Julio, a local 87 yr old comes everyday at 1:30 when we open to help us greet (mostly checks that we are doing it all correctly ha ha) and then comes again at 8:30 to sing local Rioja songs for everyone. He is well received and usually the guitar then comes out and singing continues amongst all that can sing or play. There is a newspaper article on the wall taking about how Julio represented this area and sung for the Pope last year. You can read it when you get here. 

Los Orcas is where we eat every breakfast. The owner is lovely and pays for our coffee everyday. We love going there. One of my daily highlights. Today they surprised me for my birthday with cake and singing. So special. Santa and I usually clean till 11:00 after breakfast and then walk to Azofra (6km away) for another mid morning coffee and back to shower and reopen At 1:30. Lunch is paid for as you know at a local restaurant. We made the mistake of not going one day and she came that evening to ask us why. Needless to say we have returned daily every since. Very generous and we have become great friends. The whole town is very respectful of us and our work. Saturday and Sunday they send someone to clean so we ( and you) will get a bit if a break. Great fun and very special. You will love it here. The people are what really make it special. We leave in two days. It won't be hard to stop washing toilets but it will be hard to leave the people and the beauty of the cliffs, the river, the grapes, the walks etc etc 

And on the 17th October, they sent this:
We are presently on the bus back from Madrid to Burgos after spending a few days in Madrid. It is so interesting how the mind works post Camino isn't it? I have two more shells to give away so am returning to do so. (Not the only reason) When I went to Finisterre after my Camino I collected 15 shells from the beach there to bring to Najera for my 2 weeks if volunteering. I had planned to give one shell each day to a Pelegrino that was in need of motivation to keep walking or to keep heading towards their personal goal of what they wanted from the Camino or from life. I found this such a wonderful experience for me and I have so many different stories; one for each shell I gave away. Each story was completely different as I listened to many people open up their life stories to me. I felt touched that they would open up so deeply and share such important information to me. For me, it helped me grow as well and it helped me verbalized what I learned from the Camino. The receiver was in turn touched and all were so appreciative of my simple gesture of giving them a shell from the end if the Camino. They said it gave them faith or gave them light. Which was my goal but I had no idea how much power was really there. Tears came from a few and always a hug. 
I just wanted to share that story to you as I want you to know that your course and your motivation and your song is what encouraged me. Thank you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Paul and Lenore and daughter Lily, report from Foncebadon

My (our) FONCEBADON experience is very vivid in my mind ! It truly was a unique albergue experience: welcoming different pilgrims every day, communal dinner,breakfast, oracion/quiet time, sharing stories, meeting the village people, hikes before opening time, and not forgetting the clean-up.

Rafa welcomed us at the Ponferrada bus station, took us to San Nicolas de Flue where he introduced us to the hospitaleros/as, had ourown room for 3 days before starting our 2-week stay in Foncebadon.  We went to Foncebadon on a Saturday to meet Miguel the hospitalero and be acquainted with the albergue, etc., took us around to meet Miguel and Luis, the tienda owners; introduced us  to Monte Irago/restaurant/bar owners. We did some shopping in the afternoon, went back to Fonce. the next day to participate in the prep time -dinner orientation, Paul spent Sunday night there to learn more from Miguel; and went back Monday, June 1 to officially start !
Every 3 days or so, I`d make a  shopping list for Rafa, send it thru a pilgrim staying in Ponferrada, and he`ll come the next day; the tienda which opened last year has almost everything - we order our daily bread, our last-minute we-need-more-chorizos -or-tuna-lechugas,etc. and most of all vino!  Luis and Miguel were very helpful. Luis even made cakes for Paul`s birthday . Rafa , while busy coordinating Domus Dei, El Acebo and San Nicolas de Flue and working as an archivist for the diocese, was always there for us (Lily was fond of him, too.)

Our first week was chilly and windy; and because the roof was being repaired, the tarps were making loud noises(at some point we were worried it would rain and leak) but everything `was fine, a few complaints of being cold or `noisy, but in general, they were happy to have a bed/cama or leftover soup or pasta for lunch.
We had 33 pilgrims one cold and windy night ( 3 had to share 2 mattresses in the chapel) - and 6 pilgrims on our last night (it was a very hot day so pilgrims had to keep going). Many days the 4 albergues (a new one opened a few days we were leaving) were full.

Most pilgrims were always willing to help during prep time, communal dinners were always joyful,  volunteers to read the Blessings before Meals in their languages  were eager (now we have Korean and Japanese translations), the oracion/quiet time after dishwashing was always
humbling - pilgrims joined us to have that reflection time, sharing in their own language, one even sang in Portuguese. 
One day, I got a text from Rafa (in Espanol) - something ``reserva14 camas para gentes rehabilitados`` and something I didn`t quite understand ; so I ran to Luis and Miguel - there were 2 counsellors plus 12 ``rehabilitated`` men and women coming , not to worry.  They were very nice, friendly and polite , even brought their own food and made dinner for everybody !

Getting up at 5:30 in the morning was a little difficult, but got used to it, it`s a good thing Lily was fine being left alone in our room, slept in till 8:30, would have our breakfast and started cleaning up. She was in-charge of getting the wheelbarrow from behind the tienda and bring garbage bags to the dump, with Paul. We (Paul and I would take turns)were able to have short hikes on some days before opening time; one has to stay around to open up for the roofers when they`re `late`.
Pilgrims`experiences staying in an albergue where there`s communal dinner have been were positive, some mentioned Najera, too.

 We walked from Pedrouzo to Santiago. We met some of the pilgrims  in Pedrouzo, Monte de Gozo and Santiago - what a great feeling, a reunion !

Our Hospitalero Training was very useful `; some pilgrims, i.e. Dutch, Swedish, wanted the Meals Blessings in their language, but mentioned "the future``-. We could work on that.

I would go back to Foncebadon again !  Indeed, an unforgettable experience. Lily would `complain`there were no kids her age that stayed at Domus dei, but everyday, she made friends with pilgrims - young and old  (there was a day when there were young Americans, in their 20s- singing,dancing, beading, nail polish), couples who remind them of their granddaughter; and for Paul, who would love to go back to do the camino himself !

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Walking and working on the Camino

We have more and more people being posted to albergues in France and Spain this season. Please let me know if you receive  your posting and I will add your name (first name only) to our list. And if you are walking by, stop in and say hello to a fellow Canadian.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Follow along with two of our hospitaleros

Julie and Joerg are now in Estella serving as hospitaleros. They are keeping a blog so that you can follow along on their adventures in town, on the job, with the pilgrims, and with the locals.

Monday, April 14, 2014

More Canadians on their way to Spain

We had another terrific group in Victoria this past weekend, from Winnipeg, Oregon, Vancouver, Victoria, Portland and the Gulf and San Juan Islands. Many great discussions, lots of laughter, good food and always a stimulating exchange of information ensured that everyone now feels confident about returning to Spain or France to serve the pilgrims on their way to Santiago. Thanks to Joerg for taking so many photos and we wish him and Julie "buen camino" as they go off to serve in Estella in June. As hospitaleros this will be a very different camino. We are all very excited for them. For a list of others serving this year, please click here.
 Commissioning ceremony
 Preparing lunch: caldo verde and sopa de ajo
Enjoying lunch: We cooked it ourselves!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

More Hospitaleros off to Spain and France

We've had two terrific training session in Calgary and Toronto and already have some people posted.

See the updated list here.  And please let Tom or Mary know if you receive a posting and we will add your name to the list. 

The Commissioning of the Toronto group

And what a wonderful group of people. They will all be wonderful hospitaleros!

 And the Calgary group in during the Oracíon in full song!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Basic Dictionary for Hospitaleros available!

Thanks to Laura Monastier, there is now a dictionary that hospitaleros can use that will greatly assist them in helping those pilgrims speaking French, German, Italian or Spanish. It is a wonderful resource and Laura has kindly given permission to use it, print it, share it. Find it here

Thank you Laura!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hospitalero Training in Calgary and Toronto!!

We have had so much demand for hospitalero training this year that we are offering the training in Calgary on the weekend of March 14-16, in Toronto, March 21-23 and in Victoria, April 11-13. Please click on the city for the link to the registration form and see the sidebar for more information on the training schedule reports from Canadian hosptialeros who have served in the past year(s).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hospitalero training offered in Victoria

We have had many requests for more hospitalero training, so will offer this again in Victoria, BC on the weekend of April 11-13.  If you are interest in participating in the training, please fill out the registration form and contact Mary Virtue.  You can see what a typical weekend of training entails, see reports of other hospitaleros by clicking on links located at the bar on the right.