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LIVE from the Camino Ode to the Hospitaleros

Year of past OR future Camino
Ode To The Hospitaleros:

Yesterday I walked into Estella around 11:15 grateful that an early start got me there before the blistering 35C (95F) of the afternoon. I was winging it on where to stay and the Municipal Albergue was in a great location but it did not open until 12. I noticed my buddy from Portugal , Duigo, in the bar across the street and sat with him to wait. He told me that he had left his backpack at Albergue San Miguel, a parish donativo, and that the people there were so nice he would stay there. That sounded good to me. Kindness and hospitality. So we walked over there at 1:00 and the three hospitaleros could not have been more welcoming; taking my pack and carrying it inside, offering cold water, cold juicy red ripe watermelon. It felt like we were in a 4 star hotel. Later after most of the pilgrims were checked in I joined two of the hospitaleros(and peregrinas); Ara from a village on the Camino Aragones in the Pyrenees and Susanna from Barcelona. We sat and swapped stories of the Camino. Our conversation got around to octogenarians on The Camino and then inspirational stories. I shared with them one of my recent posts on “Struggling on The Camino” about walking with Alain, a Parisian in a wheelchair and also Lynne, an Australian with stage 4 Cervical Cancer. They were soon in tears and Susanna started writing into Google translate on her phone and took my hands and gave me her phone and I read a beautiful story about life and death. Her cousin and soulmate planned to walk the Camino last year but she was diagnosed with terminal Cancer a few days before they left. Susanna was going to cancel but her friend said, “No. You must go for both of us.” So Susanna did their Camino but on the day she arrived in Santiago she received a call that her cousin was dying. Susanna rushed home in time to say goodbye and her cousin told her, “Thank you Susanna. We finished The Camino together.” Then her cousin passed. And the three peregrinos were in tears as Susanna explained that yesterday was the one year anniversary of her cousin’s death.
( Hospitaleros Susanna and Ara)

Today walking to Torres del Rio I could not help but think of the Hospitaleros of San Miguel. I will not forget their kindness and hospitality and how they treated this tired peregrino. Grateful for their lesson of the joy of serving others, neither expecting or wanting anything in return. Beautiful! Ultreia!

Ara and Susanna are members of the Association of Friends of the Camino that has a volunteer program for ex-peregrinos to do two week stints as volunteer hospitaleros. These people give up their holidays to be of service to pilgrims. A huge thank you to all the volunteer hospitaleros!
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Veteran member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
What a beautiful, touching story. Thank you, Kevin, for sharing it with us.

The volunteer hospitaleros on the Camino have a special place among the world's kind, warm, caring, joyous people. A refreshing cup of mint tea after a long, weary walk; a big smile and a cup of coffee offered before setting out on an early morning; so many little gestures of great thoughtfulness that I remember long after the sore feet and aching muscles are forgotten. What a blessing to meet so many good people. May each of them be blessed in return.


Intrepid Peregrina
Year of past OR future Camino
2012, 2015 ,2017, 2019
It has been a privilege to serve as hospitalera a few times. The hardest things is to say good bye each morning to friends you made in the short time ... the best is meeting kindred souls who become friends to cherish. Light and Love

dick bird

Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
We took over from Susanna and Ara at Estella, so we had a chance to meet them. Two wonderful people. I think they must have run out of lemons the day you were there because they used to make fresh lemon juice and hand that out as well. They used to organise a get-together every night with the albergue guitar. Two of the best. The two parish representatives, Francisco and Sabino were also great, nothing was too much for them. Fond memories.


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