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Donativo Alburgues

2020 Camino Guides

Dickwilbur

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2011, Primitivo, 2013, Via Francigena 2014, 2015 VDLP, 2016 Via de la Costa and Via San Francesco
I am frankly tee'd off at the behaviour of some pilgrims/tourigrinos/cheap holiday itinerants.

I stayed in a well known alburgue eleven days ago and am now back here as a volunteer. Having a chat with other voluntarios who have been here longer than I, I was given a resume of what tends to be in the box when opened the day after.

Frankly I am ashamed to hear that on one night, very recently, 12 people stayed, got a bed a shower and a communal meal along with a simple desayuno. And in the morning there was 10€ in the box.

How dare you. The register gives the names for that night. I want to name and shame and damn the consequences, but the others giving their time and effort are more sanguine than I and have asked that I don't.

I have no doubt this will be censured for my language but before it is lets state very clearly. Donativo does not translate as free. Whilst I acknowledge that the ethos can be interpreted as 'if all you can give are prayers'....... It is worth noting that 40% on the night in question stated that cultural or health was the reason for being on the Camino.

If you see blatant avoidance of contributing or worse, bragging of avoiding, call it out. Loudly.

Rant over
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016; Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre/Muxia 2017; Aragones 2018; Suso/Yuso, Meseta 2019
This is important information for all the new pilgrims! Donativo does not mean free! The expenses still must be covered like electricity and cleaning supplies and especially the food for the wonderful communal meals. A few years ago there was a posting stating that the communal meals at one of the favorite donativo albergues were suspended for a time because not enough money was put in the box. Put into the box something around what you might pay at any other albergue so that the volunteer hospitaleros can buy food for the next pilgrims.
 

Dickwilbur

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2011, Primitivo, 2013, Via Francigena 2014, 2015 VDLP, 2016 Via de la Costa and Via San Francesco
Having calmed a bit since I first posted in a hot flush of indignation. It bought to mind the protocol on the via francigena in Italy where and explanation of the running costs crystallised into the cost per person, they suggest a figure and make clear an option of labour as an alternative is available on request
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Although I can understand your point of view and believe that there is indeed a need to educate pilgrims what donativo actually means - preferably prior to starting out - as a volunteer hospitalera since 2012 I believe that it is not our job to shame anyone nor name names. I hope to do my job and treat all alike no matter how much they donate. And when I can no longer do that, it is time to pack up and go home.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
... the protocol on the via francigena in Italy where and explanation of the running costs crystallised into the cost per person, they suggest a figure and make clear an option of labour as an alternative is available on request.
This sounds like an excellent method of reshaping expectations. If the expectation is "free" then nothing goes in the box. In the US one often sees the phrases "sliding scale" or "suggested donation" which might also be useful on your sign by the box.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Camino Frances SJPP / 2014 Camino Portugues / 2015 Camino Ingles / 2015 Hospitalero Training
2016 (fall) Camino Sanabre / Hospitalero?
Sadly small communities and churches cannot afford to sponsor pilgrims. There are many local families in need. If albergues were to close and beds were 30 km. apart perhaps more gratitude and appreciation would be expressed. I have been a Hospitalero where the donation box was at the registration table and gifts were plentiful.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I shall be a hospitalera in the donativo albergue in Najera in the second half of September. When I volunteered with the association, I was given one rule: I must never ask anyone for money or push them to make a donation. I agree totally with this requirement. Personally, I have never given less than 20 euros in a donativo albergue which provided food, because I can. I began going on camino because I was called to pilgrimage. Anything that might discourage other pilgrims called to pilgrimage would make my free donation of my time and work and travel expenses meaningless to me. But I would be very sad if the donativo albergues had to close because there were not enough funds coming in to keep them open. I cannot tell today's pilgrims that their donations provide tomorrow's dinner, but I wish that those who could afford to donate would do so, for the sake of future pilgrims. That said, I know that, as with many other threads about camino behaviour, I am preaching to the choir.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
I shall be a hospitalera in the donativo albergue in Najera in the second half of September. When I volunteered with the association, I was given one rule: I must never ask anyone for money or push them to make a donation. I agree totally with this requirement. Personally, I have never given less than 20 euros in a donativo albergue which provided food, because I can. I began going on camino because I was called to pilgrimage. Anything that might discourage other pilgrims called to pilgrimage would make my free donation of my time and work and travel expenses meaningless to me. But I would be very sad if the donativo albergues had to close because there were not enough funds coming in to keep them open. I cannot tell today's pilgrims that their donations provide tomorrow's dinner, but I wish that those who could afford to donate would do so, for the sake of future pilgrims. That said, I know that, as with many other threads about camino behaviour, I am preaching to the choir.
Amen.

I'm glad you brought up that point, the first "lesson" we learn as volunteers through HOSVOL (Anaï being the coordinator) is that it is none of our business how much is donated. On several occasions (I'll leave the albergue unnamed), it was firmly suggested that I tell pilgrims to donate when signing in or tap the box and insist. I just as firmly replied that if they have a problem to contact the Association in Logroño. Since 2013 we no longer volunteer in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, nor for years in León with the Carbajalas when they decided to charge a fixed fee.

I loved my stint in Nájera July 2016. Members of the local Amigos association are lovely, dedicated people. They offered a buffet dinner along the river to all pilgrims in celebration of St. James day. I hope you also enjoy your stay there and thank you for volunteering.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Accommodations that are offended by the freeloaders should stop being Donativo. Charity with strings attached is just an ego trip.
Repectfully parting company from you on this one, @falcon269 . Well-off cheapskates are very different from those who are walking on a wing and a prayer.

Donativo albergues were initially intended for people who could not afford other accomodation - not for entitled freeloaders who can afford airfares and tapas crawls but who somehow think it is OK to offer nothing for a bed and perhaps a meal. So I can totally understand the OP's outrage.

In large part it just points to the need for education. If people had any idea what albergues cost to run they might be more generous. So besides just a sign that "donativo is not free," there could be a list on a bulletin board someplace - noticible but separate from the donativo box - of actual costs, as a way of answering the question of how to decide what to offer.

Edit: here are the notices in the very nice donativo on the Vasco at Beasain; I thought they were perfect. There was no pushiness at all on the part of the hospitaleras but the notices made me want to offer more than usual.
 

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Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
How dare you, you freeloading b******s. The register gives the names for that night. I want to name and shame and damn the consequences, but the others giving their time and effort are more sanguine than I and have asked that I don't.
I am also upset that people who can afford to make an appropriate donation choose to take advantage of donativo albergues. I find it distressing to think that future generations will read in guidebooks that this sort of hospitality disappeared, along with glaciers and rhinos because we were too selfish.
But I would not want a Donativo to survive if I heard that it had named and shamed previous pilgrims. In my opinion, this goes against the spirit of Donativo hospitality as much as freeloading does.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
I think as VN walking pointed out there is a huge difference between those who think nothing of spending alot on dinner and drinks and not putting a Euro in the donativo box and those like myself who walk on very strict budgets. I still leave 7 or 8 euros a night and 15 if they include dinner. I am always counting my pennies. I wish I didn't have to but I do. I appreciate greatly the spirit of a donative and love the love and friendship of a communal meal.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I am seeing this issue through the eyes of a proud pilgrim. Perhaps I am meant to be not so proud. But the needs of pilgrims called to pilgrimage are priorities to me. Maybe that one night with only 10 euros in the donativo box was because a group of relatively destitute pilgrims were spending that one night and feeling gratitude for a bed to sleep in and food to eat. I am now in a situation similar to theirs. In the last couple of days, the money which I had saved for my camino this fall has disappeared and I am left with my air ticket. Well, I still do have some savings and a bit of money coming in before September, so I can manage. But I am a senior with savings and others may have bought air tickets then found their camino funds gone unexpectedly without other resources. I want to treat every pilgrim as if he or she were sent on a religious/spiritual pilgrimage and I am one of those appointed to welcome them. As a proud pilgrim, I may feel shame if I find that I can no longer afford my usual 20 euros donation. But I am going anyway and will try to use my experiences in donativo albergues to be more understanding of pilgrims with limited means. I would consider myself a total failure as a hospitalera if I ever said anything to a pilgrim which might discourage him or her from responding to the call to pilgrimage because of lack of funds.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Maybe that one night with only 10 euros in the donativo box was because a group of relatively destitute pilgrims were spending that one night and feeling gratitude for a bed to sleep in and food to eat.
Hmmm. I doubt the OP would be so hot under the collar if that were the case. There's a tangible difference between a sincere pilgrim who happens not to have much fiscal cushion and a 'cheap holiday itinerant,' as he politely calls them.

If you see blatant avoidance of contributing or worse, bragging of avoiding, call it out. Loudly.
This was a point in his post that begs the question, and I think it's worth pondering: call it out to the people involved, at large, or what? And how?
What is skillful, useful action in situations like this where venting may be satisfying but counterproductive?
 
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Dickwilbur

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2011, Primitivo, 2013, Via Francigena 2014, 2015 VDLP, 2016 Via de la Costa and Via San Francesco
Having calmed a bit since I first posted in a hot flush of indignation. It bought to mind the protocol on the via francigena in Italy where and explanation of the running costs crystallised into the cost per person, they suggest a figure and make clear an option of labour as an alternative is available on request
I am also upset that people who can afford to make an appropriate donation choose to take advantage of donativo albergues. I find it distressing to think that future generations will read in guidebooks that this sort of hospitality disappeared, along with glaciers and rhinos because we were too selfish.
But I would not want a Donativo to survive if I heard that it had named and shamed previous pilgrims. In my opinion, this goes against the spirit of Donativo hospitality as much as freeloading does.
For clarity. The alburgue has no issues,. This is me, expressing my opinion. Feel free to take offense at me but leave the alburgue out of it
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
This sounds like an excellent method of reshaping expectations. If the expectation is "free" then nothing goes in the box. In the US one often sees the phrases "sliding scale" or "suggested donation" which might also be useful on your sign by the box.
The hospitalera in a donativo albergue on the VdlP draws each pilgrim’s attention to a notice in several languages recommending a donation of at least €10.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
For clarity. The alburgue has no issues,. This is me, expressing my opinion. Feel free to take offense at me but leave the alburgue out of it
Understood. And I get the fact that you needed to vent. Your frustration is well founded.
But know that what you do and say as a hospitalero reflects on the albergue - just as our behavior as pilgrims affects the reputation of all pilgrims. Is it fair? No, but that's reality.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
I symphatize with @Dickwilbur , the OP. I also sympathise with @Albertagirl , as I recently have been working as a volunteer in the Pilgrim's Office in SdC, as a sort of payback for what the Camino has given to me over the years (taking over @t2andreo 's work).

The donativo principle is a wonderful, humane offer to those who want to do a pilgrimage, but do not have sufficient fundings. Think about it: Where else in the world are you invited in, and served a meal, even without fundings, and offered to sleep there?

But it is very bad in the aspect of well-funded "touristigrinos" who think it is great fun to have something for free, although they can easily afford a few Euros for having a bed and a meal. I find it a degenerate attitude towards the environment they are walking through, as well as to the "true" spirit of the Camino and friendship/helpfulness towards their fellow beings.

I can only hope that during these people's walk, they'll understand more about both humanity, sharing, and the well-being of fellow humans.

If not, another Camino is required.

BTW: I support the idea of having the donativo chest at the registration counter, as well as having subtle hints on what donativo REALLY means.

Just MHO.
 
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good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
The problem with a donativo box at the registration counter and writing down a recommended amount of money to donate (and maybe even asking to put the donativo in the box immediately) is that you'll put a lot of pressure not only on the tourists looking for a cheap vacation, but also on pilgrims who are really struggling financially.

You'll make that pilgrim who's really not able to pay feel very uncomfortable, like a thief, someone who is not welcome. Maybe they feel pressured to put the money in the box they had planned to spend the next day, in a town where there's only a more expensive private albergue, and no shop to buy food to prepare, but only a pricey pilgrim menu in the restaurant.

But the tourist who is just looking for a free place to sleep, they might ignore the signs and hints without even feeling bad about it.

In the end, you're punishing the wrong people. With this kind of procedure you end up like the 'donativos' on the Le Puy, where there‘s a fixed price, just that they call it donativo because it sounds better…
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
The problem with a donativo box at the registration counter and writing down a recommended amount of money to donate (and maybe even asking to put the donativo in the box immediately) is that you'll put a lot of pressure not only on the tourists looking for a cheap vacation, but also on pilgrims who are really struggling financially.

You'll make that pilgrim who's really not able to pay feel very uncomfortable, like a thief, someone who is not welcome. Maybe they feel pressured to put the money in the box they had planned to spend the next day, in a town where there's only a more expensive private albergue, and no shop to buy food to prepare, but only a pricey pilgrim menu in the restaurant.

But the tourist who is just looking for a free place to sleep, they might ignore the signs and hints without even feeling bad about it.

In the end, you're punishing the wrong people. With this kind of procedure you end up like the 'donativos' on the Le Puy, where there‘s a fixed price, just that they call it donativo because it sounds better…

True! I do not consider myself as a tourist looking for a cheap vacation nor am I financially struggling. There is one particular donativo albergue on the Frances where the voluntarios put the box on the front desk when doing the administration.
It made me feel uncomfortable and a bit pressured! The lady was keeping a close look on what people put in and her non verbal communication said enough. Felt contraproductive. Speaking of 2011.

The donativo in Tosantos had the box on a side table , out of sight. I prefer it that way.
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
It made me feel uncomfortable and a bit pressured! The lady was keeping a close look on what people put in and her non verbal communication said enough
Had a similar experience on the Norte, and in that case the box was even plastic and transparent.... But I am well aware they do this for a reason, and I have no easy solutions.

Just remembering staying in an albergue in Germany. No hospitalero, but a donation box and a note with the suggested donation, but saying people were free to give more. In addition there was a fridge with loads of beers, drinks and snacks - and a price list with suggested prices. The trust that was put in the pilgrim felt overwhelming. But I don't even dare to think how this could work out on the CF....
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
I thought the idea of a donativo is to welcome every pilgrim to stay for the night, regardless how much (or not) they can pay. Hostility should never be a part of that, whether someone pays or not. You never know why that person didn't put anything in the donativo box, or only a few Euros.

I can't imagine how ashamed someone must feel who's being pressured to put money in a transparent donativo box under the eyes of the hospitalero, and only being able to put in a few coins, then getting 'the look', because it‘s assumed they're just another cheapskate tourist. Humiliating.

Thankfully, most donativos I've stayed at were not like that. Hopefully it stays that way.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
The problem with a donativo box at the registration counter and writing down a recommended amount of money to donate (and maybe even asking to put the donativo in the box immediately) is that you'll put a lot of pressure not only on the tourists looking for a cheap vacation, but also on pilgrims who are really struggling financially.
Rubbish. Easy to spot the difference. Look at their shoes/gear, for a starter, as well as their spendings in the nearest bar...

Not that I want to speak too much about it, but I do not differentiate between donativos and other albergues: I pay the same amount both places. I have the means. It is important in order to keep it all going. Doesn't matter much for touristigrinos; they can always book another place; but for those in real need a donativo albergue is a godsend. We come from different wealthy or not parts of the world.
 
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good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
How do you know the expensive boots are not bought second hand on ebay? Or the backpack has been a gift from a friend or family member? Poverty is stigmatized, therefore people are often very good at hiding it. Judging people by just looking at their clothes and gear is quite superficial.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
How do you know the expensive boots are not bought second hand on ebay? Or the backpack has been a gift from a friend or family member? Poverty is stigmatized, therefore people are often very good at hiding it. Judging people by just looking at their clothes and gear is quite superficial.
Yeah, @good_old_shoes ...
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
How do you know the expensive boots are not bought second hand on ebay? Or the backpack has been a gift from a friend or family member? Poverty is stigmatized, therefore people are often very good at hiding it. Judging people by just looking at their clothes and gear is quite superficial.
How do you know?
In a word, attitude.
Hospis see people and how they are. They also see if they're going out in the evening to party. The OP's outrage in this case probably had roots in more than just a snap judgement based on clothes and gear.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
How do you know?
In a word, attitude.
Hospis see people and how they are. They also see if they're going out in the evening to party. The OP's outrage in this case probably had roots in more than just a snap judgement based on clothes and gear.
Not very difficult, really. Too bad.
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Shoes and gear was what was mentioned, and that's really not something you should judge people by. But I agree, the attitude of people can be a good indicator.

Anyways, I understand that hospitaleros get angry at times because there are not always enough donations in the donativo box. But that's the risk of a donativo albergue.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Anyways, I understand that hospitaleros get angry at times because there are not always enough donations in the donativo box.
That's not why that happens. It's not about the money per se. It's because people are being greedy and taking advantage when they can afford to be generous. And as a result it endangers the viability of something that's precious. That's why.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Shoes and gear was what was mentioned, and that's really not something you should judge people by. But I agree, the attitude of people can be a good indicator.

Anyways, I understand that hospitaleros get angry at times because there are not always enough donations in the donativo box. But that's the risk of a donativo albergue.
The problem is just what you state: The RISK of being a donativo albergue. Some people do not get it; that the albergue is offering you a refuge, and hoping; please, if you are able to help us, donate some money so we can keep on doing the good work.

Too bad that donativo albergues, in good faith and of kind service, must take the "risk" of receiving wealthty touristigrinos for nothing. Kind of destroys the Camino spirit.

My hope is that these freeloaders are going home, think about it, return for a proper, meaningful Camino, and get it (the concept of kindness and sharing).
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Yes, the concept of donativo albergues is precious. It's a huge part of what's making the Camino so special. BUT, pressuring people into making donations or "fixed prices" for donations are as much of a risk and danger to the donativo albergues and the "camino spirit" as the greedy people who take advantage of the donativos.

Just my opinion, of course. It is a difficult topic.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Yes, the concept of donativo albergues is precious. It's a huge part of what's making the Camino so special. BUT, pressuring people into making donations or "fixed prices" for donations are as much of a risk and danger to the donativo albergues and the "camino spirit" as the greedy people who take advantage of the donativos.

Just my opinion, of course. It is a difficult topic.
Respect that donativo means: give what you feel it is worth for that generous inclusion. You perfectly know that you are receiving something that is worth something. Pay some more for the generous hospitality/food you are receiving in a foreign land that welcomes you so generously.

I rest my case.

PS. Watson, the master boss of IBM, had a big sign on his office, for his workers, which said: THINK.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Camino Frances SJPP / 2014 Camino Portugues / 2015 Camino Ingles / 2015 Hospitalero Training
2016 (fall) Camino Sanabre / Hospitalero?
Donativo does mean free in some cases. Accommodations that are offended by the freeloaders should stop being Donativo. Charity with strings attached is just an ego trip.
The difficulty is we have heart strings attached. We give and don’t ask to be thanked but a little gratitude is a big reward.
 

Red Rose

redrose
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis September/October 2015
Camino Portuguese Lisbon to Santiago March/April 2019
When I stayed at donativo alberques that had clear boxes I made it a point to put my money in early so that others could see how much I gave and realize that they should give what they thought it was worth and could afford. I looked in the box when I left and it was all 1 euros even though most spent the evening at the bar. It is disheartening to see this happen and they don't realize that there will no longer be donativo alberques in the future.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I looked in the box when I left and it was all 1 euros even though most spent the evening at the bar.
Q.E.D.
The selfish entitlement behind this is stunning.
But that doesn't mean these folks are bad people - unfortunately, our culture trains some of us that "it's all about me, and what I feel I deserve 'just because.'" It takes some time and education to undo all that conditioning. And every litthe bit helps.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
The paradox of being donativo and resenting those who leave nothing mystifies me. It is as if they are trying to be seen as nice people, but really are not. If you want 8E to be able to keep a place open, then charge 8E up front.
It doesn't mystify me at all, because donativo requires both a giver and a recipient. The recipient's task is to surrender and trust. The donor's task is to balance what they can afford and what the heart wants to give, with honesty.
This takes the honest and sincere partcipation of both parties. But when people just take take take when they actually can afford to be generous, the system falls apart.

Turning donativos into just another place where service is a commodity to be exchanged for cash? No, sorry. That's just sad.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
It doesn't mystify me at all, because donativo requires both a giver and a recipient. The recipient's task is to surrender and trust. The donor's task is to balance what they can afford and what the heart wants to give, with honesty.
This takes the honest and sincere partcipation of both parties. But when people just take take take when they actually can afford to be generous, the system falls apart.

And it is a sad sign of the times that some people think that something is only valuable and worthwile when the transaction is done in a "commercial way ". As if something given from the heart is less valid than paying a fixed price. Humanism versus consumerism?
 
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Dickwilbur

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2011, Primitivo, 2013, Via Francigena 2014, 2015 VDLP, 2016 Via de la Costa and Via San Francesco
Judging by the responses, I have opened a can of worms here. I don't take the 'likes' as agreement with my views.

For further clarification of my position. I am volunteering my services as someone with a construction background and am helping in that capacity, not as a hospitaliero. I think that given my views, they are incompatible with the hospitaliero ethos so I will continue to offer my services in the shadows not as a first receiver.

For the record. I leave a minimum of 5€. It increases based on whether there is a meal or breakfast sheets, towels etc. Generally to a maximum of 20€. I make no judgement of others who leave less or more, only those who willfully leave nowt that can afford to leave something and before you respond with how can you tell? I can't, but on the balance of probability they are out there.

Perhaps admin could place a permanent post on the generally accepted meaning of a donativo Alburgue. No mention of a figure but perhaps an emphasis on the fact that it does not translate as free?

I think I shall now retire from the conversation I have started.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
I don’t believe I my experience that the pilgrims that have modest means are the ones that skip the donativo box. It’s a fact that the modest to poor income give way more to charities neighbors strangers in relation to their income than the so called rich.
On my stop over in Sevilla I saw a young guy sitting next to the door to a grocery store asking with a sign for help. The first time I gave him some money.. everybody needs food. The next day I saw a cleanly dress young man sitting next to the first one with a pizza box.
That’s when I decided to get involved.
The cleanly dressed man was a shop attendant with a store near by and he bring that pizza. Found out the other one was stranded and needed a way to get his Passports renewed but could not get the money transfer from western union because of no valid ID. Long story short with relatively little effort from my side the stranded one got on his way. Had not this modest income young man took an interest and in a way showed me that compassion I might have passed that opportunity to give back.
Poor pilgrims would have left something and not 10 Euros in between 12 of them.
Opportunist come in all way shape and forms.
But thank you for donating your time and effort.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
It is a good idea to have a notice with an arrow to wherever the donativo box is sitting. Not beside the registration desk! It is also much better that the local administrators deal with the box, so that hospitaleros have no idea about money deposited. Donativo (parochial) albergues have taken the choice to be so. They need to change their category if they name a price.
 

Lirsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo, Norte, Francés, Volunteer Hospitalero.
I wrote a long answer, but finally I decided not to publish.

For me it is enough to say that I think that donativo albergues are a fundamental part of the Camino and of its spirit and that they should remain such as they are.

I don´t think that you can impose any minimum fee. The albergues should be open for everyone, with or without money! If you do not have money ... you are welcome for dinner, for breakfast, for the night, ...

If you have the money, then you should pay for the services you are using and, in adittion, also you have the opportunity to help others who are not so lucky. This is something that has to be left up to your conscience.

I know that, such as most pilgrims behave, these albergues are condemned and, most likely, in the end, all will be replaced by commercial albergues. Anyhow, we cannot just give up and put a fee and allow that donativo albergues become cheap commercial albergues. The idea is not that they are cheap. The idea is that you can use them for free in case you need.

I would ask the religious people: Would you agree to charge a fixed fee for attending the Holy Mass? Or the donation you make in the church has to be up to your conscience and possibilies? A similar question, probably in other terms, could be made to non-religious people.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Repectfully parting company from you on this one, @falcon269 . Well-off cheapskates are very different from those who are walking on a wing and a prayer.

Donativo albergues were initially intended for people who could not afford other accomodation - not for entitled freeloaders who can afford airfares and tapas crawls but who somehow think it is OK to offer nothing for a bed and perhaps a meal. So I can totally understand the OP's outrage.

In large part it just points to the need for education. If people had any idea what albergues cost to run they might be more generous. So besides just a sign that "donativo is not free," there could be a list on a bulletin board someplace - noticible but separate from the donativo box - of actual costs, as a way of answering the question of how to decide what to offer.

Edit: here are the notices in the very nice donativo on the Vasco at Beasain; I thought they were perfect. There was no pushiness at all on the part of the hospitaleras but the notices made me want to offer more than usual.
I'm a bit confused here (not an entirely unusual experience). I am reading in the thread that donativos have costs and are reliant on income to pay those costs. As such, meaningful rather than token payments are necessary. I don't dispute this. I also read above that "Donativo albergues were initially intended for people who could not afford other accomodation". If that is the case, then presumably the intended guests were not meant to make donations of a size equivalent to what would be paid in other accommodations like municipals. How were the albergues intending to stay afloat based on donations from their intended guests?

I can see donativos expecting mostly pilgrims who can afford to pay, and expecting them to pay enough to cover their own costs and the costs of those who can't, because their funding is needed to keep the place afloat. Or I can see albergues securing external funding because they are set up as a service for those who can't pay and are now being abused by people who can.

But to say that donativos were set up as an ongoing option for people who can't pay (and are thus not expecting significant funds from peregrino guests) and at the same time rely on peregrino funding to operate confuses me.

I am okay with however an albergue wants to operate, municipal/religious/private/association, staffed by volunteers/owners/paid staff, set fees/set fees with exceptions/suggested amounts/completely at the discretion of the pilgrim. But it seems to me that the best things is to be honest and up-front about it. If the albergue would really prefer a certain amount from pilgrims, let them know. If the albergue is saying "give what you feel like giving; it doesn't matter to us" then they shouldn't complain or resent when pilgrims do just that. If what they want is something else, let pilgrims know. We all seem to have our ideas of what should be expected of pilgrim guests at albergues. Personally, I think that's up to the people operating the albergue. The best solution, as far as I'm concerned is for albergue administrators to decide and clearly let guests know.
 

Lirsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo, Norte, Francés, Volunteer Hospitalero.
I can see donativos expecting mostly pilgrims who can afford to pay, and expecting them to pay enough to cover their own costs and the costs of those who can't, because their funding is needed to keep the place afloat.
Yes!

You expect that keeping the cost at the minimum (volunteer hospitaleros, may be some organization helping in some way, may be ....) the generosity of the pilgrims put what is left to keep the albergue open.

Or I can see albergues securing external funding because they are set up as a service for those who can't pay and are now being abused by people who can.
External financing? From where? There are many people who need the generosity of different organizations. It would be very difficult to find one that puts a lot of money to keep an albergue open.

If the albergue is saying "give what you feel like giving; it doesn't matter to us" then they shouldn't complain or resent when pilgrims do just that
It matters and I am sure that every hospitalero says it to the pilgrims!

The costs are more or less clear (except if you think that the owners of commercial albergues, restaurants, bars, etc. are becoming millionaires). Now it is up to you if you want and / or can collaborate in the mission of keeping this donation infrastructure open for other pilgrims.

If the hospitalero was not aware of the importance of the money for keeping the albergue open, you can be sure that he will never work for free!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016; Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre/Muxia 2017; Aragones 2018; Suso/Yuso, Meseta 2019
First, I have to say that I have not read every post on this thread. I did write post #4 with the intent to explain some of the practicalities of a donativo for new pilgrims who do not know what one is or how it it run. Last year I attended hospitalero training where the major theme was to be of service to pilgrims, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs in the albergue where we might be volunteering. How and whether pilgrims offered payment in a donativo albergue was of little importance because hospitaleros in any albergue freely and with happy heart give their service to pilgrims.

I strongly believe in the desire to preserve the spirit of service, charity when needed, and the spirituality of the Camino which sadly has been loosing ground as a tourist destination.
 
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Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
I can see donativos expecting mostly pilgrims who can afford to pay, and expecting them to pay enough to cover their own costs and the costs of those who can't, because their funding is needed to keep the place afloat. Or I can see albergues securing external funding because they are set up as a service for those who can't pay and are now being abused by people who can.
So (having not walked in Spain at all - my walks have been in CZ, DE, CH, and FR) apparently there is a mix of funding mechanisms, and therefore a mix of expectations. There are thousands of pilgrims walking, most of whom do not read this forum. Telepathy is not the best way of communicating. How are the different expectations communicated to pilgrims?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016; Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre/Muxia 2017; Aragones 2018; Suso/Yuso, Meseta 2019
When I stayed in donativos it was explained simply upon arrival and then left up to the pilgrim, the box was discrete but indicated.

It has been asked before on the Forum how much is an appropriate amount and for that some guidance here is appreciated.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
But to say that donativos were set up as an ongoing option for people who can't pay (and are thus not expecting significant funds from peregrino guests) and at the same time rely on peregrino funding to operate confuses me.
Not that they can't pay, full stop, David, just that they can't afford the commercial alternatives. Sorry I was not clear
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
Donativo albergues were initially intended for people who could not afford other accomodation - not for entitled freeloaders who can afford airfares and tapas crawls but who somehow think it is OK to offer nothing for a bed and perhaps a meal. So I can totally understand the OP's outrage.
I do not think, that this is the concept behind "donativo". Donativo leaves at your discretion what you are willing to give and what you think the appropriate fee. By this it also allows people with limited financial means to do the camino. But the system is condemned to fail if the poor give nothing and the others only give what they think to be the "just" price. Those who can afford are invited to sponsor the others.

Thus I did not only give the same amount that I would have spend for a night in a private albergue and a meal in the bar, but something in addition for somebody who could not pay for his accomodation.

I love the donativo albergues and get outraged and ashamed if I read entrys in the albergue´s guestbook such as: "poor albergue, badly equipped, not worth any money" or "dirty place, you have to warn other pilgrims from staying here".

Give generously if you want things to improve! If you can not give money, you can at least lend your hand, clean the kitchen ...

BC
Alexandra
 

Lirsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo, Norte, Francés, Volunteer Hospitalero.
It has been asked before on the Forum how much is an appropriate amount and for that some guidance here is appreciated.
Even if it's a very personal matter, I'm not trying to avoid the answer! 😂

I can tell you what I, as a pilgrim, do.

Initial calculation:
  • Price of a comercial albergue .... we can say 10/12€
  • Dinner (if any): Price of a dinner in a bar or restaurant .... around 10/12€
  • Breakfast (if any): Price I would pay at a bar .... 3/4€?
Sum: 23/28€ - In case there is dinner and breakfast

To that 23/28€, I add or take deppending in the hospitalero, the albergue, the dinner, the breakfast.

Let's say that, for paying less than € 20, I have to be very disappointed with the albergue and I think I never paid more than 30 (Exception made a couple of times that we organized some queimadas. 😂 ).

My idea is to pay the same as I would pay in a commercial place. Probably the facilities in the donativo are not as good as those in the commercial albergues, but in general, the hospitalero will be much more dedicated than in the commercial albergues, which, in my opinion, will more than compensate the first.

Anyway, I know perfectly well that with that amount I am paying much more than the average pilgrim. What you leave as a donation is a personal decision that depends only on you.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I follow these discussions with some interest. I’m vaguely aware about how the albergue system along the Camino Frances in particular was developed. I never stayed in a donativo and it’s not likely that I ever will unless they offer private beds which I believe they don’t. Following the discussions, one gets the impression that there’s a considerable number of very poor people on pilgrimage in Spain. I’d be interested to know how many donativo albergues there are along the CF in particular and roughly how many of the 200,000 annually recorded pilgrims of the CF really cannot afford to pay for food and bed (over what time? 10 days? 3 weeks? 6 weeks?). Not afford means: not having any money at all. It doesn’t mean: I couldn’t otherwise afford pilgrimage trips as often and as long as I do.

I don’t mean to stir things up. I’d really be curious to know.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I do not think, that this is the concept behind "donativo".
No, you're quite right. But I believe it's the idea behind albergues in general.
I can't find the source now, Via2010, but I've read it several places here that have offered the recent historical context of the place of albergues in the modern CF. Those who know better, please correct me if I'm wrong.

And please read this if you haven't, everyone - or again if you have. Rebekah eloquently describes the essence of the tension we've been circling around on this thread:

And I have to say that I really resonate with this (the entire post, not just the part quoted here):
I love pilgrims. Most of them are wonderful, generous, spiritual seekers. I even kinda like tourists. But I deeply dislike the "you must give me everything for nothing because I am a pilgrim" attitude some of them carry along the camino... best summed-up this Fall by a young man in his hi-tech 200-€ boots who asked, "is this place donativo, or do I have to pay something?"

My neighbor, a now-unemployed truck driver, really dislikes pilgrims. He thinks they are the worst kind of freeloaders: foreigners who can afford to not work for six weeks and buy a ticket to Spain, but who have the cojones to wander up to his door and ask (or sometimes demand!) food and drink and toilet facilities. He said this very morning, "You call them pilgrims. I call them locusts. They land, they eat everything in sight and (defecate) on everything, and they disappear. What do we get? Nada."

The feelings are out there. Just so you know. Not everyone sees pilgrims as blessings. Especially the ones who will not/cannot pay their way.

That said, I return to my pre-Lenten meditation on the words of St. John Chrysostum: "We must be more kind than just. Kindness alone reconciles."
 

Lirsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo, Norte, Francés, Volunteer Hospitalero.
Following the discussions, one gets the impression that there’s a considerable number of very poor people on pilgrimage in Spain.
It depends on your criteria about "very poor people"

If you think in 35 days with an average cost of 30 euros / day, you are talking about 1000 euros + trips. There are many people for whom this sum represents a VERY important sacrifice. Please note that I, on purpose, used "sacrifice" instead of an "inconvenience". Surely spending money is not convenient for anyone ;) .

You also find really poor people, absolutely unable to cope with the cost of the albergues, but I agree that it is only a very small minority (sure far under 1%).
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I am frankly tee'd off at the behaviour of some pilgrims/tourigrinos/cheap holiday itinerants.

I stayed in a well known alburgue eleven days ago and am now back here as a volunteer. Having a chat with other voluntarios who have been here longer than I, I was given a resume of what tends to be in the box when opened the day after.

Frankly I am ashamed to hear that on one night, very recently, 12 people stayed, got a bed a shower and a communal meal along with a simple desayuno. And in the morning there was 10€ in the box.

How dare you. The register gives the names for that night. I want to name and shame and damn the consequences, but the others giving their time and effort are more sanguine than I and have asked that I don't.

I have no doubt this will be censured for my language but before it is lets state very clearly. Donativo does not translate as free. Whilst I acknowledge that the ethos can be interpreted as 'if all you can give are prayers'....... It is worth noting that 40% on the night in question stated that cultural or health was the reason for being on the Camino.

If you see blatant avoidance of contributing or worse, bragging of avoiding, call it out. Loudly.

Rant over
Ok, I hope you feel a bit better after your rant. I have just had a run through the thread indicated by VNwalking, with reference to Rebekah’s post. I have the possibility of spending money on caminos. I have walked three times: CF, 29 days. An average of 20 euro per day. CP, 2013, an average of 23 euro per day. Salvador, not sure, maybe an average of under 30, but the only splurge was the hotel on the final night, about 60 euro for 2, with a generous buffet breakfast. It is in my power to pay my way. For that, yes, I am thankful. I would not look to spend more than necessary. In donativos, my approach is the same as others who can pay the same as in other fixed price lodgings. One that stands out in my memory is Benduenos on the Salvador. It has a bathroom like in your own home! Full of this that and the next thing. And the hospitalera has a beautiful name. (Same as mine!) Such trust and generosity begets a positive response.
As someone with a few experiences as a hospitalera, I can say this: I am fairly smart at ‘reading’ people. However, it is not my job to judge or refuse a welcome to anyone. Full stop.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
It depends on your criteria about "very poor”
I understand that this is difficult to define ... whether in a more general way, be it globally or country specific, or in the special context of the Camino pilgrimage. I try to understand the issue where it goes beyond resenting the freeloaders, deploring the uninformed, and alluding to those in real financial need who, in addition, must not be identified as such, if I understand correctly.

I’m assuming that the latter are mainly from Spain and perhaps more so from neighbouring countries for whom the cost of travelling to Spain will be modest and the cost for drink and food lower in Spain than in their home country. Or is that assumption wrong?

So it would be easier to identify the donativos on the CF and who runs them and why. Perhaps there’s a list somewhere that I can look at?
 

Lirsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo, Norte, Francés, Volunteer Hospitalero.
So it would be easier to identify the donativos on the CF and who runs them and why. Perhaps there’s a list somewhere that I can look at?
I do not know of any list. I myself prepared a list, with data taken from Gronze (www.gronze.com), with most of the alberges. The idea of that list is, when I start thinking about stopping, to be able to easily see what albergues I have ahead of me and at what distances. In that list I also put the price or donation. I would say that in Gronze you can find all the information, with prices, if the albergue has pilgrim dinner, kitchen, prices, dates, etc. It is in Spanish, but the basics (town, distances, name of the albergue, prices, dinners, etc ...) is easy to understand.
 

Lindsay53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April / May 19
Interesting topic. I left 10 euros in Granon because the Hospital of San Juan Bautista was well worth it. In El Burgo Ranero and Samos I left 5 euros, becuase the officious little men who were running the place annoyed me.
 

alhartman

346 joyful days in Spain and France since 2005
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
I would first note that the participants in this forum are no more likely to stiff the donativos than they are to litter the pathways. And that our venting about the behaviors of ‘others’ will make no difference whatsoever. The donativos will remain a core part of the camino spirit, and still many will drop their token coin so they have ‘donated’ and others will treat as free.

I would also note that I am solidly in the middle class, not a catholic, and have no burning religious reason—just a strong non-denominational spiritual reason. So for me, all CF is an optional, highly desired activity. And while I will plead guilty to being frugal—I also do not stiff waitstaff on a fair minded tip just because it is ‘optional’.

Over the 14 years and 160 nights on the CF, I have met two mendicant/near mendicant pilgrims. I have met scores who are on a tight budget.

Coming from the West Coast USA, about the best I can do for air travel is $1100. So that is $30 per day just to get there (and why I really do not do the more frequent shorter Caminos that I crave) I already feel poor when I land as airfare has taken half my budget and it was not optional. I refuse to let that feeling cause me to save money at a donativo. I use the same math as Lirsy#57—which works out to about the same/slightly cheaper as demi-pension on LePuy at eu30. I am able and willing to pay my share even when it means others who could, choose a free-ride. There are other places where I can save on a limited budget.

I also believe that the CF increased annual traffic from 100k to 300k is due not to the western world’s increasing spirituality, but to the low cost of the camino!! As much as I love the camino experience, I would have quit after the first one if the per diem cost were similar to an ocean cruise $150-$700. And I have talked with scores of European youth for whom the CF is primarily a cheap adventure. So I think doing it on the cheap behavior goes way beyond just the entitled, new-booted touragrinos.

And, a philosophical question I ask myself—if Iberia air were donativo, what would I do?
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Interesting topic. I left 10 euros in Granon because the Hospital of San Juan Bautista was well worth it. In El Burgo Ranero and Samos I left 5 euros, becuase the officious little men who were running the place annoyed me.
Most people I read look at the value proposition of donativos as expressed above: how nice is the albergue, how nice are the hospitaleros, what have I received, to determine how much to donate with some adding extra to help cover the next pilgrim who can't afford as much. But I am starting to wonder if that is the best way to look at it.

A donativo is likely run by volunteers or people whose income is not dependent on pilgrim donations. The "officious little men" won't be rewarded more or less by the size of donation you leave. That will only affect what can be offered to the next pilgrims who come along. It is they who are being punished rather than the officious hospitaleros.

Perhaps we should reframe the proposition from "give according to the value of what you have received" to "give according to what you want pilgrims to receive here". The charity ceases being presented as what you are receiving from the albergue (which may incline people to give less - why pay for what is being freely given as charity?) and starts being presented as what you are offering to future pilgrims (which might incline people to give more, because don't we all want to help our fellow pilgrims as much as we are able?).

I know that Grañon they are careful to say that tonight's dinner is from the charity of last night's guests and what we donate will determine what can be offered for dinner tomorrow. Something along those lines but generalized to the hospitality overall and not just the dinner.
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
Most people I read look at the value proposition of donativos as expressed above: how nice is the albergue, how nice are the hospitaleros, what have I received, to determine how much to donate with some adding extra to help cover the next pilgrim who can't afford as much. But I am starting to wonder if that is the best way to look at it.
Thank you so much for sharing your angle on this. As for the 'officious litlle men': well, aren't we all ? - at least sometimes.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I know that Grañon they are careful to say that tonight's dinner is from the charity of last night's guests and what we donate will determine what can be offered for dinner tomorrow. Something along those lines but generalized to the hospitality overall and not just the dinner.
It's a compelling image: paying forward, isn't it? The more I think about it the less convinced I am of the concept ... the host advanced the cash to buy tonight's food and tonight's guests are paying it back through their voluntary contributions ... I mean after all that's how it all started, on the very first day of operation. 🤔

I was intrigued to read an old thread from 2014 with the title "Donativo: a dead idea?" and in particular this comment and even more so this quote: "Laudable and altruistic in appearance and yet we find it isn't really "give what you can if you are moved to do so as a voluntary donation" it is: "Don't give and we will moan on pilgrim forums and Facebook about how mean some pilgrims are."

I've never stayed in donativo albergues but I stayed in albergues where the breakfast was donativo for example. I didn't think of the pilgrims of the following day when I dropped my contribution into the box. I was impressed by the trust the host put into me / us. Were some people tempted to "save" money? I have no idea but I wondered. I often have only a vague idea of how much an item costs but I assumed that I had put in a bit more than I had consumed in "current market value". After all, I wouldn't want them to think of me as a freeloader even though they would have no way of ever finding out how much I and everyone else had individually put into the box. Altruism? Charity? Not really. 🙃
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2011-2019 CF, Arles/Aragones
2015 & 2017 (2020) HærvejenDK
Just remembering staying in an albergue in Germany. No hospitalero, but a donation box and a note with the suggested donation, but saying people were free to give more. In addition there was a fridge with loads of beers, drinks and snacks - and a price list with suggested prices. The trust that was put in the pilgrim felt overwhelming. But I don't even dare to think how this could work out on the CF....
And I am just remembering my two walks on the Haervejen in Denmark, The Ancient Road, that runs north and south in Jutland and is now also signed as a Camino de Santiago. The accommodations are mostly in renovated farm buildings, as well as old school buildings, a nature centre, and others, and mostly without any hospitalero on duty. Everything is on the honour system. There is a locked donation box with a set price of~$20Canadian per night per person, plus whatever you take from the fridge - frozen dinners, beer, pop, water, etc. - and you are expected to sweep up in the morning. Each hostel has a good kitchen, which is useful if there is no town nearby. Apparently there are no problems with guests not paying their share. It can be done!
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Thank you for this list, @Lirsy . I've now had an opportunity for a quick look through Gronze and your list appears fairly up to date, give or take a few. Quite a lot of the donativo albergues appear to be parochial albergues.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Thank you for this list, @Lirsy . I've now had an opportunity for a quick look through Gronze and your list appears fairly up to date, give or take a few. Quite a lot of the donativo albergues appear to be parochial albergues.
The list looks up to date to me. And may I add the following towns with albergue de peregrinos on the Via de la Plata where HOSVOL also provides volunteers:

Castilblanco de los Arroyos
Salamanca
Zamora

In addition on the Plata there is a donativo in Fuenterroble de Salvatierra (Don Blas, although rarely around but has his own volunteers) and in Tabara with Jose Almeda. I have been in all and would recommend. The albergues in Salamanca and Zamora are wonderfully situated in the old town.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Calzadilla de Los Hermanillos is a municipal albergue that is donativo.
Thanks for the list!
Yes, I stayed there in May while a friend from home was working as hospitalera there. Very cozy place, and since there were only three of us staying we each had our own "room".
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
And may I add the following towns with albergue de peregrinos on the Via de la Plata where HOSVOL also provides volunteers:

Castilblanco de los Arroyos
Alcuéscar (monasterio)
Puerto de Béjar (municipal)
Salamanca
Zamora

In addition on the Plata there is a donativo in Fuenterroble de Salvatierra (Don Blas). And there are municipal donativo albergues in Grimaldo and Aldeanueva del Camino, which are looked after by neighbours.
I have been in all of these and liked the atmosphere.

The municipal in El Cubo tierra del vino was closed due to too little donations. Monica, the hospitalera, then decided to open her own private albergue (F y M) with a fixed price.

BC
Alexandra
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
I have been in all of these and liked the atmosphere.

The municipal in El Cubo tierra del vino was closed due to too little donations. Monica, the hospitalera, then decided to open her own private albergue (F y M) with a fixed price.

BC
Alexandra
Yes, that's right. I stayed at the municipal in 2011 and twice at F y M but it is currently up for sale.
 

Lindsay53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April / May 19
Most people I read look at the value proposition of donativos as expressed above: how nice is the albergue, how nice are the hospitaleros, what have I received, to determine how much to donate with some adding extra to help cover the next pilgrim who can't afford as much. But I am starting to wonder if that is the best way to look at it.

A donativo is likely run by volunteers or people whose income is not dependent on pilgrim donations. The "officious little men" won't be rewarded more or less by the size of donation you leave. That will only affect what can be offered to the next pilgrims who come along. It is they who are being punished rather than the officious hospitaleros.

Perhaps we should reframe the proposition from "give according to the value of what you have received" to "give according to what you want pilgrims to receive here". The charity ceases being presented as what you are receiving from the albergue (which may incline people to give less - why pay for what is being freely given as charity?) and starts being presented as what you are offering to future pilgrims (which might incline people to give more, because don't we all want to help our fellow pilgrims as much as we are able?).

I know that Grañon they are careful to say that tonight's dinner is from the charity of last night's guests and what we donate will determine what can be offered for dinner tomorrow. Something along those lines but generalized to the hospitality overall and not just the dinner.
The two places I mentioned offered nothing except a roof and a bed. As it was, 5 euros was commensurate with what several municipal albergues charged and was all I felt they were worth. Granon is a totally different story. My favourite albergue of them all.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
The two places I mentioned offered nothing except a roof and a bed. As it was, 5 euros was commensurate with what several municipal albergues charged and was all I felt they were worth. Granon is a totally different story. My favourite albergue of them all.
Absolutely. But maybe the reason they could only offer a roof and a bed was because pilgrims were only putting in 5 euros. Maybe if pilgrims were to start putting in 10 euros they would find themselves with some extra money and perhaps also start offering tea and cookies (biscuits if you speak British English). Or bowls of fruit. Or something else extra. These are not for profit enterprises, after all. It is not unreasonable to expect that, faced with a surplus of funds, they would spend them on pilgrims.

"All I felt they were worth" is certainly the common paradigm for looking at the donativo transaction. I'm just suggesting another possible paradigm, based not on what current services are worth but on what you would like to contribute towards future pilgrims.

PS If you like Grañon, you might want to give the donativo in Tosantos a try. While I haven't been there myself, I've heard it offers a very similar experience.
 

Lindsay53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April / May 19
Absolutely. But maybe the reason they could only offer a roof and a bed was because pilgrims were only putting in 5 euros. Maybe if pilgrims were to start putting in 10 euros they would find themselves with some extra money and perhaps also start offering tea and cookies (biscuits if you speak British English). Or bowls of fruit. Or something else extra. These are not for profit enterprises, after all. It is not unreasonable to expect that, faced with a surplus of funds, they would spend them on pilgrims.

"All I felt they were worth" is certainly the common paradigm for looking at the donativo transaction. I'm just suggesting another possible paradigm, based not on what current services are worth but on what you would like to contribute towards future pilgrims.

PS If you like Grañon, you might want to give the donativo in Tosantos a try. While I haven't been there myself, I've heard it offers a very similar experience.

Some of the others in Granon that night did say that we should all head to Tosantos the next day to experience something similar, but I felt that trying to recreate the Granon experience would not work so I stayed in Belorado instead. Maybe next time :)
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Whe I stayed in Tosantos in 2011 it was one of my most treasured nights on my first Camino.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I have stayed at Tosantos twice and shall certainly stay there whenever I pass though in that direction. A special memory from Tosantos, autumn of 2015: an elderly man sitting in the kitchen with a basket of bruised and tiny windfall apples in front of him, working patiently to trim and prepare the apples for cooking and rejoicing that a local had donated them that day, so he would have something to give the pilgrims for desert. The memory brings me to tears: such generosity of spirit and joy in the chance to give a small gift to the pilgrims. This is what donativos are about.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Interesting topic. I left 10 euros in Granon because the Hospital of San Juan Bautista was well worth it. In El Burgo Ranero and Samos I left 5 euros, becuase the officious little men who were running the place annoyed me.
what do 'officious little men' look like?
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
what do 'officious little men' look like?
Easy to recognize. Small, obviously. Perhaps a little panicky 'cos its their first day of volunteering. They'll likely be trying to remember all the "rules" they got told by the last shift who have now all left the building. They'll likely respond to requests for bending of the rules in an unbending sort of way. And they'll be tired on the next day & maybe a bit grumpy 'cos some pilg will have blocked a toilet or a shower drain and another will have lost an earring and is on their 'phone demanding a thorough search...

So, all pilgrims are warned: beware of little people trying to do their best by everybody in the best way they can find ;)
 

Lindsay53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April / May 19
what do 'officious little men' look like?
I had a copy of the photo page of my passport stuck inside the front cover of my credential. This was accepted everywhere except for the two donativos I mentioned, where the bloke insisted I show my "real" passport. One even accused me of presenting a false passport and told me I could be arrested in Spain for having such a document. :rolleyes: A small thing but the attitude pissed me off.
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
I had a copy of the photo page of my passport stuck inside the front cover of my credential. This was accepted everywhere except for the two donativos I mentioned, where the bloke insisted I show my "real" passport. One even accused me of presenting a false passport and told me I could be arrested in Spain for having such a document. :rolleyes: A small thing but the attitude pissed me off.
I guess they can look like anything, but that attitude was officious, IMHO.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
I would not call this officious.

The rules, which are printed in the credential as well, are obvious. The credetial is only valid in combination with an official document, proving the identity (passport or DNI). This rule is to prevent fraud, which to me seems particularily important in albergues working on a donativo-system. They do not want people to benefit from a system which was intended for pilgrims, but do not fulfill the conditions of a pilgrim.

It reminds me of german public health insurance. Since some years the health-card must show a picture (similar to your passport), because homeless people without insurance sometimes used the cards of a friend or which they had stolen, to recieve medical help they were not entitled to.

I think this is a special issue of donativo and municipal/public albergues, as homeless people can not afford a stay a more expensive private albergue or even a hostal. Private albergues sometimes do not even ask for your passport, but this is their decision.

BC
Alexandra
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I had a copy of the photo page of my passport stuck inside the front cover of my credential. This was accepted everywhere except for the two donativos I mentioned, where the bloke insisted I show my "real" passport. One even accused me of presenting a false passport and told me I could be arrested in Spain for having such a document. :rolleyes: A small thing but the attitude pissed me off.
Culture clash!

I’m not trying to excuse how they showed their attitude as I wasn’t there, I’m just observing that I, like probably millions of other Europeans who carry their official ID cards with them day and night and pull them out of their purses without much thought or worry when asked to identify themselves wouldn’t think of ever making a copy of it, laminate it and use it instead of the actual document that is requested to be shown.

And as much as I do understand the worries of the foreign traveller that the passport might get stolen or lost or just disintegrate if it is ever pulled out of its secure place in the backpack and I also try to appreciate the objections to compulsory ID cards as such and the great advantages of using driving licences and utility bills instead - or in fact laminated copies of the original document - despite all my efforts of trying to understand “the other”, I cannot conceal some sympathies for the little officious men who don’t get it that probably 98% of pilgrims are able to comply with their modest request to present a small sized document for 2 minutes and a few can’t.

Just a different view. 🙃
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I would not call this officious. The rules, which are printed in the credential as well, are obvious. The credetial is only valid in combination with an official document, proving the identity (passport or DNI). This rule is to prevent fraud, which to me seems particularily important in albergues working on a donativo-system. They do not want people to benefit from a system which was intended for pilgrims, but do not fulfill the conditions of a pilgrim.
This is not the reason. The reason is current law. It stipulates that everyone - or at least every foreigner - who stays at a hotel, casa rural, albergue etc has to show an official legal ID document and be registered with their personal data including the number of the ID document. I don't know when this law in its present form came into force in Spain but it is the law now. It's the same situation in many other countries now. So in fact the request to present your passport may be made in an officious manner but it is an official request. They don't do this out of a whim or on the basis of internal rules, they do it because it is requested of them from the Spanish authorities.

As an aside, I'm immediately recognisable as a foreigner as soon as I say something, be it in English or Spanish, and I'm always asked for my pasaporte. I always show them my ID card (same size and look as a credit card) and not my passport which I don't even bother to take with me to Spain because I and they know that pasaporte and whatever that small thing is called in Spanish are equivalent legal documents. It's nice to understand each other and each others' rules without knowing all the words. :)
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
I think it is both. Accomodation which is not especially for pilgrims normally asks for your passport/DNI, as they have to register their guests (though on various occasions in the last couple of years I have come across hostels, which do not comply to these spanish laws or at least do not register all of their guests and so try to avoid taxes). But it is also mentioned in the credential itself, that it is only valid in combination with an official document giving evidence of your identity. And this seems to have the reasons I have stated above (at least this was what some friends who volunteer as hospitaleros told me).
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
It is also mentioned in the credential itself, that it is only valid in combination with an official document giving evidence of your identity. And this seems to have the reasons I have stated above (at least this was what some friends who volunteer as hospitaleros told me).
First time I hear this. And I have my doubts even when friends who volunteer as hospitaleros have said so. It is definitely not mentioned in my credentials which are issued by the Fédération Française des Associations des Chemins de St-Jacques de Compostelle. I have not bothered to check the text in the credentials issued by the Santiago Cathedral themselves.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Private albergues sometimes do not even ask for your passport, but this is their decision.
Of course not, why should they? A number of private pilgrims albergues state very clearly that they are "oriented towards pilgrims but not exclusively for pilgrims".

I think this is a special issue of donativo and municipal/public albergues, as homeless people can not afford a stay a more expensive private albergue or even a hostal.
I'm currently pursuing some thoughts of my own about the Christian idea of charity, be it medieval or contemporary ... :cool:.

But just from a practical point of view, is there such a demand by homeless people to stay in pilgrims albergues that these albergues would even need to implement such rules? One characteristic of pilgrims albergues of the donative/municipal/parochial kind is the fact that you can stay only one night and that you need to show on the basis of the stamps in your credencial that you are constantly moving along in more or less the same direction ... I've actually met people who are technically homeless because they are between jobs and between homes ... And I'm aware that there might be a few who are permanently homeless and always on the move along one of the caminos although I have never talked to someone is such a situation and I'm not even sure that I have actually ever seen one. But really ... a special issue for the donativo albergues? I'm unconvinced for now.
 
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Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
My friend Nikolaus, who worked as a hospitalero quite often in the albergue Santiago Apostol in El Acebo and in the big albergue Nikolaus de Flue in Ponferrada said, that this is really an issue for them. Homeless People (and by this I do not mean People being unemployed between 2 jobs and having given up their flat on purpose) moving forward on the camino and "living" on various caminos, plan their stages from one donativo to another, as they can not affort spending 10 or 12 Euro per night. But if there are only these people coming to the donativo albergues, they will not be able to survive.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
My friend Nikolaus, who worked as a hospitalero quite often in the albergue Santiago Apostol in El Acebo and in the big albergue Nikolaus de Flue in Ponferrada said, that this is really an issue for them. Homeless People (and by this I do not mean People being unemployed between 2 jobs and having given up their flat on purpose) moving forward on the camino and "living" on various caminos, plan their stages from one donativo to another, as they can not affort spending 10 or 12 Euro per night.
If that's the case then it is an interesting conundrum, isn't it? Because they behave - seen from the outside - exactly like any other pilgrim. And I don't get the logic of the reasoning that says that they have to show their ID to make sure that they are the person entitled to hold a credential ... they've got a credential with the required stamps to document their movements and they got these stamps exactly like any other person moving along the road with them. Does this qualify as fraud ("This rule is to prevent fraud, which to me seems particularily important in albergues working on a donativo-system. They do not want people to benefit from a system which was intended for pilgrims, but do not fulfill the conditions of a pilgrim")?

The more I think about it the more I feel that the whole donativo concept is a nice contemporary idea that has a lot of appeal for us. Receiving and giving solidarity, including for a few poor people of the right kind, in the form of a fairly modest sum of money ... makes us feel good, especially when we vaguely tend to think that money is inherently evil or a monetary system is more bad than good. The donativo concept of the medieval system for pilgrims was fundamentally different: the provision of accommodation and food was financed and sponsored by those who were better off, either directly through a foundation, or indirectly through donations to monasteries, and they expected to be rewarded in the afterlife. The donors did not stay in these albergues themselves. Providing shelter and food in this form was a necessity as there were no government supported social nets as we know them today.
 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
The basis or justification for the rules is a red herring in this discussion. "Officious," is about the attitude and manner of a person.

Some definitions of officious:
  • Objectionably aggressive in offering unrequested and unwanted services, help, or advice (dictionary.com)
  • Meddlesome (dictionary.com)
  • Assertive of authority in a domineering way, especially with regard to trivial matters (Google)
  • Too eager to tell people what to do and having too high an opinion of your own importance (Cambridge English Dictionary)

When a man asks to see a pilgrim's original ID and he counters her objections with "I'm required to check the original," he's just a man doing his job. He may be more rigorous than other men in fulfilling his duties, but he is not officious.

But when a man asks to see a pilgrim's original ID and goes on to accuse her of presenting a false passport and advising her that she could be arrested in Spain for attaching a copy of her document to her credential ... he's offering unwanted advice, he's making a mountain out of a mole hill, he's taking obnoxious pleasure from asserting the power afforded to him by what is actually a rather menial position ... This makes him officious (even if there is a justification for seeing the document) and little (even if he is tall in stature). Q.E.D. He is an officious, little, man.
 
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Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
@Kathar1na:
In my understanding the requirement that you have to present your ID with your credencial is to make sure, that the person who uses the credential is the one for whom the credential was issued. In former times you needed a recommendation by your parish-priest to obtain a credential. Nowadays credentials can be bought on the internet, but if you get them from an association they will still ask you to answer some questions about your motivation...

If somebody has a credential and is the person who is named in the credential, he is entitled to pilgrim accomodation (i. e. albergues which are specifically adressed to pilgrims and not open to the public in general), irrespective of his (real) motivation to walk the camino

Especially when you consider the new "Modus operandi" of thieves in some albergues - i. e. someone checking in with a credential with stamps showing that he walks the way "as a pilgrim" and then opening the doors at night for his companions so that they can come in and steal the valuables of his fellow pilgrims - you will see the need to check at least, if the person presenting the credential is the person for whom the credential was issued. I am sure, that if this was not checked, the thieves would take the credentials of other pilgrims and use them to get into the next albergue and to disclose in which albergues they had been before. They would soon become a suspect, if thefts happened wherever they slept the last couple of days. So a stolen credential will help them to wipe out their traces if you do not check the ID.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
the requirement that you have to present your ID with your credencial is to make sure (...)
@Via2010, I am finally convinced now: you are not going to let go of this point of view. And I could go on but I won't. 😊
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I don't understand why this thread has gone this way. As I understand it, the law requires that I show my official identification when I sign in at any form of overnight accommodation. On my recent caminos, I noticed that the requirement to show the original document, and not a photocopy, is posted at many albergues at the place where pilgrims sign in. If I am told at the handover in September when I take over as a hospitalera in the Najera albergue that this is the law and I must require pilgrims to show original identification, I shall certainly do so, as to do otherwise might threaten the right of the albergue to be open. It might also make police investigations into crimes in albergues or against pilgrims more difficult. Might I suggest gently that we pilgrims will sometimes encounter laws or regulations which differ from those currently enforced in our home countries. As guests, we must obey the house rules and be grateful for our opportunity to be hosted so generously, especially in the donativo albergues.
 

Moonstruck

Moonstruck
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
I have never stayed in a donativo albergue so I do not speak from my personal experience. However, I cannot believe all those who leave no or very little donation do it on purpose to take advantage of the situation. Not everyone read extensively about the Camino before they leave home. Most people I met did a lot less preparation than I did. We cannot expect everyone to know how donativo albergues operate. The albergues have a responsibility to let people know why they are there, what they do and what is expected of pilgrims in return for a bed and a hot shower. I think if the pilgrims understand the concept and principle behind donativo albergues, most will give more generously.

Note: Our choir organizes by-donation annual concerts to raise funds for charities. We post our programme together with a description of the charity and a “suggested donation amount” on our web site and on event posters and leaflets. From our experience, the more details we give as to how funds collected are used, the more successful the donation drive is. We have run these concerts for almost ten years and they have worked very well so far. People seem to like our “explicit guidelines” re: donation amount and have generally followed them.
 

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