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Video Is the Donativo Camino Culture under Threat? Rebekah Scott shares her thoughts

Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I have just seen this. I have to do some work but I so look forward to continuing to watch it. Thanks for posting, and congrats on a really timely piece.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
I have just seen this. I have to do some work but I so look forward to continuing to watch it. Thanks for posting, and congrats on a really timely piece.
I have a few from people you might 'recognise' and will share over the coming weeks.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Thank you Robo! I have read from her book, read from her website and some of her posts, but never heard Rebekkah speak. Enjoyed the dialogue...
 
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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)
Very nicely done, @Robo. Thank you for making and sharing it.

The donativo model is deeply subversive. Even without the challenges of a pandemic it faces strong headwinds that come from many directions — cultural, economic, and the simple basic ignorance about how the system works. It's complicated, so I bow to Rebekah's wisdom and gift of words that she was able to communicate the depth of all that in such a short interview.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I had time now to watch, and it is a helpful contribution to the questions about ‘the future of the camino’. I was taken aback when I first came across the notion of donativo albergues. Then I listened to the ideas, and saw the ideals being practised. As a hospitalera I have never seen if or how much pilgrims put in to the box. The manager of the box is the only one who held that information. I have little to add to the argument about those who may abuse the system and travel free. Those who work in the donativo environment know the risks, and live with on the spot decisions about particular situations. In a conversation this morning, someone spoke of a dentist adding a huge sum for PPE to the bill. Another person spoke of hairdressers adding a flat fee on also, for PPE. I think the donativo albergues might need to factor in a fee for the costs imposed by the measures introduced in the autonomies in Spain to ensure the best hygiene and health standards now required while we co exist with Covid19.
I am especially aware of those who have seen their livelihoods wiped out, donativo or low cost... and also those who have invested recently and are now in debt...
Rebekah said something that has hit me right in the eye: I am too high a risk to be a hospitalera any more! That is another element from now on. Soon we will have some reports form the advance pilgrims who will be checking out the situation, tents at the ready. That will add to the emerging picture.
Once more, thanks to Robo and Rebekah.
 
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walkingstu

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino SJPP to SDC 2007 Frances
Camino Aragon Pau Fr. to Pamplona 2010
Camino Burgos to SDC 2012
Camino Porto to SDC 2015
Camino VDLP Seville to SDC March 2016
Thank you for putting this together, I enjoyed your conversation with Rebekah.
Stay well, stay safe.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
Robo,

Thanks for post.

I have been a hospitalera and had decided to let that side of camino go by the wayside.

Methinks, if time, energy, and COVID permit, I will volunteer yet again.

Oddly enough, until this video I never appreciated just how much volunteers are needed.

Again, Robo thanks for post.
 

IngridF

Intrepid Peregrina
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2015 ,2017, 2019
Me thinks my days of being a hospitalera are done for the near future, and not sure about when it will be ok for me to even walk. I try not to dwell on it too much, because when I do, I am extremely sad. It is one of the Joys of being retired, that I have the time to walk and serve. Like all of us, I hope, pray, sending positive vibes into the universe, that this virus stops to dictate our lives sooner then later. I ain't getting any younger!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
I have about 10-12 video 'chats' with a range of people, some of whom you will know very well.
I'll drip feed them out over the coming weeks.
One Gentlemen's 'chat' lasted over an hour!
So it will be a series of 5 or 6 shorter conversations........ :rolleyes:
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
A very interesting interview, @Robo ! Thank you!

You made a confession about not staying in donativo albergues, with the excuse of being a snorer.

My wife and I walked 2178km from Switzerland to SdC in 2018 (in Spain it was on the Norte), 133 days walking. We stayed once in an albergue on the Norte (Izarbide), and we had one donativo in France (what they call "accueil jacquaire").

Our excuse for not staying in a shared dormitory, or a donativo albergue, is for health reasons. I think that when we talk to purists about the Spirit (with a capital S) of the Camino, we often get judged, because, by that standard, we didn't walk in the Spirit of the Camino by not staying in donativo albergues.

Yet those who judge us do not consider the spiritual side of our Camino, and @Rebekah Scott touched on that aspect in the interview. We are religious, and although we found that there was a lack of priests in France, which meant that we could often not attend a service even on a Sunday, we could still pray in churches when we stopped during the day. We found a different experience in Spain. Getting a blessing from a priest in Bolibar all in Basque language is quite something!

It's the prayers that we have given for all those involved in the Camino that made our Spirit of the Camino, not the type of accommodation we stayed in.

Another part of our Camino is the amazing experience of meeting other pilgrims, even if we did not stay in albergues. Not sharing a dormitory with other pilgrims didn't take away from our sharing our journey with wonderful people walking on the same path.

Thank you again for this thought provoking interview.
Buen Camino!
 

dick bird

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Even before Covid-19 there were discussions over whether the donativo system was viable, mainly because costs exceed income in most cases. Therefore, donativos exist because of altruism on the part of whoever runs them. As hospitaleros, we would solemnly remind our guests that the reason we were giving them breakfast was because somebody the day before had given us the money for it, and that while we were donativo, the electricity company and the gas company and the water company were not. Some people gave over the odds, some under. That's the way it works, but we heard some quite shocking stories about how little some people paid and I have to say some of the approaches taken by an hospitalero or two about how to remedy the situation. It is worth bearing in mind that all municipal albergues are to some extent donativo in the sense that pilgrims are benefiting from the generosity of others: a Voz de Galicia article last year reported that while most munis charged 5 euros a night, costs averaged out at 8 euros. I think the camino will survive. It has been there about 1200 years and is robust enough to withstand the onslaught of a few 21st century freeloaders. It will change, so does everything, and when you think about it, the number of good people on and around the camino vastly outnumber the bad. Anyway, thank you Rebekah and I wish you well.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
A very interesting interview, @Robo ! Thank you!

You made a confession about not staying in donativo albergues, with the excuse of being a snorer.

My wife and I walked 2178km from Switzerland to SdC in 2018 (in Spain it was on the Norte), 133 days walking. We stayed once in an albergue on the Norte (Izarbide), and we had one donativo in France (what they call "accueil jacquaire").

Our excuse for not staying in a shared dormitory, or a donativo albergue, is for health reasons. I think that when we talk to purists about the Spirit (with a capital S) of the Camino, we often get judged, because, by that standard, we didn't walk in the Spirit of the Camino by not staying in donativo albergues.

Yet those who judge us do not consider the spiritual side of our Camino, and @Rebekah Scott touched on that aspect in the interview. We are religious, and although we found that there was a lack of priests in France, which meant that we could often not attend a service even on a Sunday, we could still pray in churches when we stopped during the day. We found a different experience in Spain. Getting a blessing from a priest in Bolibar all in Basque language is quite something!

It's the prayers that we have given for all those involved in the Camino that made our Spirit of the Camino, not the type of accommodation we stayed in.

Another part of our Camino is the amazing experience of meeting other pilgrims, even if we did not stay in albergues. Not sharing a dormitory with other pilgrims didn't take away from our sharing our journey with wonderful people walking on the same path.

Thank you again for this thought provoking interview.
Buen Camino!
My reasons for not staying in shared bedrooms are probably varied and screwed up I admit.
I have stayed in Albergues, but in a private room.

Sure I snore and I worry about annoying others.
I also like my privacy.
And I can afford to stay in private accomodation.
I thought I should leave the cheaper accomodation for those who need it, like I would be some kind of 'fraud' using Albergues.

Am I missing out as a result?

Obviously I can't say.

I don't think so, as I've formed great relationships on all my caminos and have mixed a lot with other Pilgrims. A lot! Had Camino 'families', walked with others for days on end...

We just showered and slept in different places, that's all. We still had our meals together.

But I recognised in talking to Rebekah that there is more to it. And I need to try it. And I will.
I will stay in some Donativos and I'll make sure I'm not 'tight fisted' with the tin.... ;)

We never stop learning do we?
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
Even before Covid-19 there were discussions over whether the donativo system was viable, mainly because costs exceed income in most cases. Therefore, donativos exist because of altruism on the part of whoever runs them. As hospitaleros, we would solemnly remind our guests that the reason we were giving them breakfast was because somebody the day before had given us the money for it, and that while we were donativo, the electricity company and the gas company and the water company were not. Some people gave over the odds, some under. That's the way it works, but we heard some quite shocking stories about how little some people paid and I have to say some of the approaches taken by an hospitalero or two about how to remedy the situation. It is worth bearing in mind that all municipal albergues are to some extent donativo in the sense that pilgrims are benefiting from the generosity of others: a Voz de Galicia article last year reported that while most munis charged 5 euros a night, costs averaged out at 8 euros. I think the camino will survive. It has been there about 1200 years and is robust enough to withstand the onslaught of a few 21st century freeloaders. It will change, so does everything, and when you think about it, the number of good people on and around the camino vastly outnumber the bad. Anyway, thank you Rebekah and I wish you well.
I do hope the Donativo culture survives. It's such an important part of the Camino.
Maybe it just needs a degree of education or improved communication for those who don't quite understand how it works?

Was it a couple of years ago, there was a story about the Albergue in Granon I think, where the previous night's Pilgrims had not left enough money to feed that days Pilgrims. That just left me feeling so sad.....and at first, I confess, a little angry.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Cam Frances SJPDP to Santiago ('17): Finisterre ('17); Muxia ('17): Camino Portuguese ('19)
I have about 10-12 video 'chats' with a range of people, some of whom you will know very well.
I'll drip feed them out over the coming weeks.
One Gentlemen's 'chat' lasted over an hour!
So it will be a series of 5 or 6 shorter conversations........ :rolleyes:
Rob, so enjoyed “meeting” you and Rebekah via your blog. Great fun to really get to see, hear, and learn from the faces behind the avatars! You both have always imparted balanced and thoughtful perspectives in writing, so it was especially nice to hear what you had to say and how you said it! Personally, I have always considered the experience at a donativo every bit as special as a Casa Rural, etc. At the end of any day, I do feel an obligation to pay the price of a “room for one” even if I am sharing a room with twenty. I am being sheltered, fed, showered, and laundered. I find the company and interaction with others to be the treat at the end of the day. Admittedly, Robo, I too have been known to zzzzzzzSNORE! So, I too secure a room where I can to “saw wood“ in peace on occasion! Many thanks for sharing you two! Continued good health and contentment to you and yours!
 

Stephan the Painter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2020)
Interesting talk. And all very depressing. I do think, however, that it’s unlikely the Camino will be changed forever. Once the current coronavirus is under control, within a few years things will be back more or less the same. Certainly some individuals are going to lose their livelihoods. All over the world. Certainly in the town I live in, Because it’s also a tourist economy. But when things get better, those people will be replaced by others. I don’t mean to be callous, I’m sad about it all. But unfortunately, the world at large doesn’t even notice individual misery.

Of course, unless the coronavirus, or other diseases with similar results become par for course.Then it may change the camino and everything forever.

Thank you, Robo. I’ll take a look at your YouTube channel.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
You made a confession about not staying in donativo albergues, with the excuse of being a snorer.
My reasons for not staying in shared bedrooms are probably varied and screwed up I admit.
I have stayed in Albergues, but in a private room.

Sure I snore and I worry about annoying others.
I also like my privacy.
And I can afford to stay in private accomodation.
I thought I should leave the cheaper accomodation for those who need it, like I would be some kind of 'fraud' using Albergues.
I don't think that there is any need to feel guilty about staying in private rooms, and not staying in donativos! The people who own and run those small pensiones also need to be supported. Perhaps you could drop by donativo albergues in the afternoon, meet the hospitaleros and leave a little donation.
 

Bala

Veteran member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
💖💖💖💖💖
Thank you, Rebekah; thank you, Robo. It's a blessing to have both of you. 💕🤗

Yes, everyone. Support the donativos. They are what the Camino is.
 

CaminoDebrita

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPP to SdC Oct/Nov 2015
Frances Burgos toSdC March/April 2016
W. Highland Way August 2016
Camino Somewhere September 2017
I found this interview interesting beyond measure, especially as I've enjoyed RS's posts for a long time, as well as Robo's.

Donativo and Municipal albuerges....I've not stayed in them much, as I have some health issues and I prefer privacy. I can afford to stay in a room by myself, and I've gotten more rest with less worry. I snore on occasion, and have had some bad experiences with "helpful" pilgrims touching me during the night to wake me up and tell me. A gentleman came to bed late one night, rattling bags and organizing his pack at midnight, and then woke me up at 2 a.m. (again) to let me know I needed to roll over. The next morning I was less than diplomatic with him. Therefore, it's easier for me to sleep alone.

I know that being with a community is a wonderful experience, and I love breaking bread and drinking wine with my pilgrim friends, many of whom I hold close in my heart every day. I have tremendous respect for our forum members who have welcomed pilgrims, working as hospitality staff at albuergues. I love seeing people helped, fed, given comfort--and while I only stay in albuerges about half the time on Camino, I cherish that experience and am grateful every day for the open hearts and souls I've met.

Thank you to Robo and Rebecca--and all of you who keep the Camino and the Camino spirit alive. It is a candle of hope in these somewhat dark times. Buen Camino.
 

taigirl

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2019
Never got to stay in a donativo last year on CF. They were always full. Next time hopefully.
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Well done Robo and Reb. Lovely to see you both and hear your wise words.

Even though we Aussies won't be able to come to Spain for ages, it's wonderful to 'keep in touch'. Part of our hearts are there in spain, on the camino.
I have to say... this Forum and camino Fb groups have been so very important to me (and probably many others) during Covid, allowing a daily escape into the 'camino world' we love, giving contact with generous souls and providing updates on the health crisis. Thank you all. Buen camino a todos.
 

calmeg

Member
We have stayed in municipal albergues, private places, and donativos. The convenience with the municipals is that they have a set price and everyone understands the process. We tend to overpay in the donativos because i) the owners seem to be so nice and dedicated, ii) in our experience they offer communal meals, and iii) we are fortunate in being able to pay a little extra. After one of our caminos we walked to Muxia, and then took a taxi to Malpica or Laxe and walked back on the Camino dos muertos. Exhilarating terrain, but everything was donativos. The owner of donativo 1 helped us connect with donativo 2. It was fantastic- one night the 25 euros bought a room, and full dinner for two- and the dinner was a full highly caloric tortilla, with chicken, salad, etc. We paid extra and took half the tortilla for lunch. Getting to sit in the evening with the owner, with a glass of wine and a full stomach and discuss sports, politics, history, the local issues, etc. is what absolutely fills our spirit. The donativos are special and should be supported as well as we can! Just my opinion of course!
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
We've stayed in all sorts of accommodation on camino, from donativos to free bull-rings, Casa Rurales to Paradors. I'm still most comfortable with being given a 'price' or suggested donativo amount. I realise there are provincial parameters and definitions, but I always wonder about this on-going issue of how to stop some people thinking donativo means free. I'd prefer a set amount. (Yeh, I know, then it's not donativo. . .)
 

Zen Librarian

Member
Camino(s) past & future
9-17: SJPdP-SdC
4-18: SdC - Fisterra
4-19: Cadiz-Sevilla/Via Agusta
3-20: Sevilla-SdC/VdlP
Thank you so much for this post about donativo. I have taught online yoga on a donativo basis for the last 3 months. I shared the Zoom link for free (still do actually). It took some time to make people understand what donativo actually is. I called it 'equal access to services for all, regardless of your wealth'. If you can afford a bit more, you pay a bit more. If you don't have any money, you don't have to pay. it worked like a dream. I earned a decent hourly rate, I never had to send out invoices, or reminders, just an email to announce the next session, and people got into the habit of paying and then doing yoga. And some paid more and others less. Donativo is my utopian ideal of how the world economy should work. Rebekah calls it the 'economy of grace'. Beautiful.
 

Mike Wells

author of 'Cycling the Camino Frances'
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (1995) (2017 x2) (2018) Via de la Plata (1996), Finisterre 2018
As the author of a cycling guide to the Camino Frances (Cycling the Camino Frances, Cicerone Press ISBN 9781852849696) I am often asked by prospective peregrinos about the availability and cost of accommodation along the route. When I explain about the albergue system of municipal, commercial and donativo albergues, the question arises as to how much to pay in a donativo. I always advise that they should pay at least the same amount as they would pay in a municipal or commercial establishment, ie between €7-€10/night, which is an incredible bargain anyway. The costs and regulations faced by donativo albergues are not dissimilar to those of other albergues, it is just that their pricing model is different when it comes to recovering those costs from overnight guests. Paying less than the true economic cost is cheating the system and an abuse of the goodwill of your hosts.
 

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)
Donativo is my utopian ideal of how the world economy should work. Rebekah calls it the 'economy of grace'. Beautiful.
As a Buddhist monastic, I live this way. And I have to say that I am usually astonished at people's generosity. What has begun to happen in the last several years, though, is it there has been an increased number of backpackers coming to the monastery because they perceive it as a free place to stay — which is of course not what it's meant to be. So we offer them food and shelter for as long as they stay, as well as meditation instruction, and maybe they leave the equivalent of 10 euros after a month. Sometimes this is a genuine inability to offer more, which is totally fine. Other times, though, they can afford it but are just being cheapskates. Staying balanced with that is a practice of patience. And of faith.
But it all comes out in the wash.
Hopefully on the camino as well.
 
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cathietherese

Catherine Davis
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP - Finistere May/June 2012
Le-Puy-en-Velay to Cahors/ June 2019
Thank you so much for this @Robo and @Rebekah Scott . In the short space of the video you cover some really important points, not the least of which is the clash of the Donativo's depth with a profit-centric system. So much is lost when all is commodified.
That said, I wonder if there is a way especially given new health requirements that pilgrims can be made aware of the Donativo system's vulnerability? I hear you when you say it's tricky because money inevitably comes into that frame but what I worry about is the assumptions people may bring. For instance, maybe some people think the Catholic Church is funding the Donativo system and might assume 'the Church has plenty of money and so forth'. You have likely heard worse than that but if there is a way we can think of letting people know that Donativos do not receive private or government funding other than direct donations through the Donativo system - pilgrim to Donativo it might avoid this happening as often as it does.
I am reading your latest book Rebekah at the moment and really enjoying it. The prospect of volunteering really appeals to me and I notice you mention in your book that many pilgrims who walk the Camino think about becoming a hospitalero. I know I have had that thought [fantasy] but no real idea how to go about it. You are really helping with that :). There must be a few of us who may not be able to leave their home situation for too long but could certainly volunteer.
In other words, in my experience many pilgrims I have walked with wish they could stay longer at albergues but respect the rule that only one night is possible. From your book I see this is different if someone stays as a volunteer but maybe this applies to private homes rather than albergues?
Anyways, just some brainstorming thoughts for now.
I too, really hope and for now send prayers and solidarity to any and all of you who are working to ensure Donativos prevail.
Kia Kaha for Aotearoa! Catherine.
 

Lexicos

Jim
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
2017
Camino Portuguese 2019
Thanks. I for one didn't know the distinction between one type of albergue and another. I now know what Donativo means. Next Camino, I'm in. Will be my preference.
 

ramble-on

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2010; LePuy 2011; VdlP 2013/14; CdN (to Oviedo) & Primitivo 2016
A very interesting vlog, thank you Rebekah and Robo! On my Spanish Caminos, I’ve stayed in all sorts of accommodation - hotels (usually the last resort), casa rurales, commercial and municipal albergues, and donativos. I confess that on one occasion, I forgot to make my donation, only realizing this after 7 or 8 kms into my morning’s walk. It was not a good feeling, after receiving the kindness and generosity of the the hospitalero! Thereafter, I resolved to make my contribution when I checked in, just as I would in a commercial albergue, and at least in the same amount as I would be charged there.

For me, donativos offer a much more memorable experience than the other forms of accommodation and are an important part of the spirit of the Camino. I’ve never volunteered as a hospitalero, can afford it, and they deserve my €s in return for their generosity, freely given. It’s small recompense for the gift of walking in Spain.
 

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