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Hospitaleros

Camino(s) past & future
CF April 4- May 12, 2018
CP April 2019
#1
Hi, I stayed in 2 different albergues that are near to my heart. What is the “job” as a hospitaleras? How would I go about volunteering for a position? How long is average stay? Should I take Spanish lessons? Lol! Thanks Dee
 

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Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
#2
You can contact your country's Camino association they should have hospitalero training classes. For instance, APOC, Americans Pilgrims on Camino for USA holds annual training opportunities.

What is it like? You usually serve 15 consecutive days. You will be the: tour guide, clean-up crew, bed coordinator, pilgrim dispute mediator, listening ear, entertainment provider, etc. Depending on albergue you will also provide breakfast and dinner.

I always kept in mind I had these folks over my home one night only. One night to give them a great memory.

Your day starts around 6am or so and ends around 11pm.

I found it a wonderful opprtunity to give back; get to know others; and really enjoy Spain.

Your room and board is provided. I recommend the experience highly.

Oh! Spanish language skills valuable but not an absolute must.

And, you will coordinate all the above with a fellow hospitalero you JUST met.

Buena suerte.
 

Pink Girl

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino September-October 2017
#3
You can contact your country's Camino association they should have hospitalero training classes. For instance, APOC, Americans Pilgrims on Camino for USA holds annual training opportunities.

What is it like? You usually serve 15 consecutive days. You will be the: tour guide, clean-up crew, bed coordinator, pilgrim dispute mediator, listening ear, entertainment provider, etc. Depending on albergue you will also provide breakfast and dinner.

I always kept in mind I had these folks over my home one night only. One night to give them a great memory.

Your day starts around 6am or so and ends around 11pm.

I found it a wonderful opprtunity to give back; get to know others; and really enjoy Spain.

Your room and board is provided. I recommend the experience highly.

Oh! Spanish language skills valuable but not an absolute must.

And, you will coordinate all the above with a fellow hospitalero you JUST met.

Buena suerte.

What long hours! Are there ever breaks? Do the hospitaleros have various shifts?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#4
You usually serve with at least one other person, and you take turns or work out the schedules that suit you both. Depending on when and where you serve, you can spend entire days just hanging out (after the morning cleanup session), or you can be running hard from sunup to night... some people prefer staying busy.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
#5
What long hours! Are there ever breaks? Do the hospitaleros have various shifts?
Adding to R. Scott. You and your fellows spell each other. I once volunteered with two others. We rotated afternoons off. And, usually only one of us closed albergue at night and work up in morning.

Once pilgrims leave around 8am and before they arrive about 1pm there is plenty of downtime.

Besides, the time flies and it is a lot of fun.
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Aug 2016-Oct(2016); Leon-Sarria, Ourense to SdC May (2017)
#6
The training through American Pilgrims on the Camino will provide some idea of the expectations of each albergue, as they vary. I served at Bercianos and it was work from sun up to sundown! Cooked for an average 50 pilgrims/day, cleaned, laundered pillowcases, shopped for food and supplies on top of greeting, caring for and loving my fellow peregrinos. I was totally exhausted by the end of the 15 days, but wouldn't give up the experience for the world!! My hospitalero partner was Spanish with very little English, so my Spanish came in handy. In a smaller town, getting to know the locals is also very important and adds to the quality of the experience. Albergues in larger towns/cities will provide a different experience, I'm sure. Ultreia! elle
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May 2016- 14 July CF
Hospitalero, Zamora Dec 15-31, 2017
#7
Caligal,
We volunteered in the winter last year and had a wonderful experience. Will be at Granon this year Dec 16-31. In the winter the experience was still filled with laundry, cleaning, and shopping, but there was also time for a bit of sightseeing and culture in our town of Zamora (and just catching up on good books). No TV or other distractions. There are fewer pilgrim's, but more opportunity to talk to them and provide for their comfort. My Spanish is limited, but was enough. My husband used 'Google translate' on his phone and had many meaningful conversations with our guests passing the phone back and forth. He is going to study Spanish in November in Santiago for a month to help him feel better prepared this year. He's retired, so I'll have to stay behind and work until our assignment starts. We'll meet at the albergue in mid-December.

We'll do a bit of pilgrimage before (Hubby) and after (both of us). Really looking forward to being a Hospitelera again! So different from my day job as a professor.

If you have the time and inclination, I suggest you contact American Pilgrims on the Camino to take the prep course.
Janet
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#8
A day in the life - hospitalero at Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal:

When I was there we had two teams of two (all men) each pair sharing a room together. There are separate bathroom facilities from the pilgrim ones and a washing machine to keep the bedding clean.

The day started with unlocking the kitchen at around 6am. Heating the water and milk for breakfast which had been laid out the night before (hence locking the kitchen - Pilgrims are notoriously light fingered!).

A CD of Gregorian chanting would be turned on and the volume slowly increased so heavy sleepers would get the message.

The kitchen would rapidly be turned into a total mess of bread crumbs, sticky knives and spoons, dirty cups and discarded yogurt tubs.

You try and get everybody on the road by 8.30 and lock the front door - there's every possibility that, if the weather is really hot, you'll get some early arrivals from the previous stop.

Sit down and have your own breakfast.

We split into 4: I took the upstairs, main, dormitory. Bruce took the bunk house. Maurice the kitchen and Alan, who had been many times before and was the best Spanish speaker, did the admin, accounted for the money and wrote letters to the people who had sponsored that week (bet you didn't know other people pay for you to stay there did you?) telling them how things were and how many people had stayed.

First you go around the bed spaces and collect the rubbish left behind as well as personal items like jewellery, phones, cameras etc (little baggie of weed anybody?) then wash the floor, clean the showers, restock the toilet paper, unblock the toilets etc. Change the sheets on four of the bunks (this was a while ago so things may have changed) and then go and see if any body else needed help (Maurice was quite hopeless at first, not knowing you had to use a cleaning agent to mop the floor!)

Sheets into the washer first - there's a first class solar dryer in the rear garden. I was there in July, not sure how good it is in winter.

Listen out for the bread man (loud honking of horn) and meet up with Brother Xavier from next door and exchange news.

Go for lunch across the square or picnic in the garden.

13.30 open the doors and let them in. Try and convince people an orderly queue is the best way to be served. Two people on the desks filling the register and stamping credentials while the other two explain the rules (no smoking inside or in the garden, use of the quiet room and kitchen) and then take groups off to their beds.

Explain that you can't reserve a bunk and that it's a first come first served basis. Explain they need to wring out washing before putting it into the eccentric European spin dryer that tries to shake itself to pieces when overloaded. Restock the toilet paper.

About 4pm serve tea and biscuits on the terrace (this IS a British refugio after all). Make sure everybody is happy (impossible) and restock the toilet paper.

Things quieten down a bit when the mass starts in the church outside.

Go for dinner at Tonio's or Gaspar's.

When everybody has finished with the kitchen clean it again and prepare for tomorrow's breakfast. Lock the door.

Chivvy everybody off to bed by 10pm.

Deal with emergencies and problems: blisters, broken kit - sadly a young Spanish girl died of meningitis while I was there and we had a flood of phone calls from worried family and friends.

Finally go to bed and be prepared to do the same all over again tomorrow - a bit like Groundhog Day.

You pay your way there and back, the Confraternity pays for dinner each day - we alternated between Tonio (good, basic food) and Gaspar (always good, sometimes sublime - try the Cocido Maragato ;))

BRILLIANT experience, wouldn't have missed it for the world.
 

leichecerca

Can’t stay away
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Finisterre: May 2018
Camino Frances: April-May 2018
Camino Frances: April-May 2017
#9
Hello Dee! It's your Camino pal Mary. Definitely do the weekend American Pilgrims (APOC) training to learn all about what you can expect with the hospitalero gig. The APOC training is also a fantastic way to reconnect with the Camino vibe and share stories with like-minded souls. If you are reluctant (as I was) to commit to two solid weeks of 18+ hour days cooking & cleaning toilets, etc. in an albergue .... why not consider giving back by volunteering to fill out compostelas in the Pilgrim Office in Santiago? That's what I did after our Camino this year, and it was a FANTASTIC experience. You are housed in a free private room at a nearby convent, the shifts at the Pilgrim Office are just 5 hours a day, 6 days a week. (But I usually worked 8-10 hours a day because it was so thoroughly enjoyable.) Every day I had the tremendous honor of greeting dozens of weary but happy pilgrims at the symbolic, important moment of their Camino, awarding them their compostelas. I wrote all about it here on my Camino blog, if you want a detailed version of what it's like to volunteer in the Pilgrim Office.... Some Spanish is very helpful, but not required. Also, here is a link to the forum thread about volunteering that inspired me to go for it. Love & blessings!
 

natefaith

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-Santiago (2009)
León-Ponferrada (2014)
Camino Inglés (2017)
#10
A day in the life - hospitalero at Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal:

When I was there we had two teams of two (all men) each pair sharing a room together. There are separate bathroom facilities from the pilgrim ones and a washing machine to keep the bedding clean.

The day started with unlocking the kitchen at around 6am. Heating the water and milk for breakfast which had been laid out the night before (hence locking the kitchen - Pilgrims are notoriously light fingered!).

A CD of Gregorian chanting would be turned on and the volume slowly increased so heavy sleepers would get the message.

The kitchen would rapidly be turned into a total mess of bread crumbs, sticky knives and spoons, dirty cups and discarded yogurt tubs.

You try and get everybody on the road by 8.30 and lock the front door - there's every possibility that, if the weather is really hot, you'll get some early arrivals from the previous stop.

Sit down and have your own breakfast.

We split into 4: I took the upstairs, main, dormitory. Bruce took the bunk house. Maurice the kitchen and Alan, who had been many times before and was the best Spanish speaker, did the admin, accounted for the money and wrote letters to the people who had sponsored that week (bet you didn't know other people pay for you to stay there did you?) telling them how things were and how many people had stayed.

First you go around the bed spaces and collect the rubbish left behind as well as personal items like jewellery, phones, cameras etc (little baggie of weed anybody?) then wash the floor, clean the showers, restock the toilet paper, unblock the toilets etc. Change the sheets on four of the bunks (this was a while ago so things may have changed) and then go and see if any body else needed help (Maurice was quite hopeless at first, not knowing you had to use a cleaning agent to mop the floor!)

Sheets into the washer first - there's a first class solar dryer in the rear garden. I was there in July, not sure how good it is in winter.

Listen out for the bread man (loud honking of horn) and meet up with Brother Xavier from next door and exchange news.

Go for lunch across the square or picnic in the garden.

13.30 open the doors and let them in. Try and convince people an orderly queue is the best way to be served. Two people on the desks filling the register and stamping credentials while the other two explain the rules (no smoking inside or in the garden, use of the quiet room and kitchen) and then take groups off to their beds.

Explain that you can't reserve a bunk and that it's a first come first served basis. Explain they need to wring out washing before putting it into the eccentric European spin dryer that tries to shake itself to pieces when overloaded. Restock the toilet paper.

About 4pm serve tea and biscuits on the terrace (this IS a British refugio after all). Make sure everybody is happy (impossible) and restock the toilet paper.

Things quieten down a bit when the mass starts in the church outside.

Go for dinner at Tonio's or Gaspar's.

When everybody has finished with the kitchen clean it again and prepare for tomorrow's breakfast. Lock the door.

Chivvy everybody off to bed by 10pm.

Deal with emergencies and problems: blisters, broken kit - sadly a young Spanish girl died of meningitis while I was there and we had a flood of phone calls from worried family and friends.

Finally go to bed and be prepared to do the same all over again tomorrow - a bit like Groundhog Day.

You pay your way there and back, the Confraternity pays for dinner each day - we alternated between Tonio (good, basic food) and Gaspar (always good, sometimes sublime - try the Cocido Maragato ;))

BRILLIANT experience, wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Gaucelmo was one of my favorite places to stay on that stretch of the Camino. So fun to think of you there with Bruce and Alan! (I don't know Maurice). I'm sure you all had fun. :)
 

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