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The keeper of the refuge in St. Nicolas de Real Camino is nice to pilgrims. He has a clean, well-lighted refuge and a booming little business in food and lodging.

Unfortunately his success is going to his head. This week he filed serious health department charges against James and Marianne, two Camino support providers in Moratinos. (Moratinos is two kilometers east of St. Nicolas on the Camino.)

The Moratinos couple (UK based) operate on donativos bases, giving away oranges and coffees and conversation to passing pilgrims. The Guardia Civil walked into their daughter's 2nd-year birthday party last weekend to serve the "cease and desist" paperwork. The St. Nicolas man's signature was on the "denuncia."

In the past the St. Nicolas man filed local building-code complaints against the same couple, and has come in person to their albergue-in-progress and promised them he will "shut you down, whatever way I can." (He used similar harrassments against another family in St. Nicholas when they opened a restaurant in town, but they're Spaniards with money enough for lawyers as well as plenty of local family connections.)

Moratinos needs to provide pilgrim services, but apparently The Man in San Nicolas thinks that will divert a few pounds of pilgrim money that is rightfully his. People in Moratinos can do little about the situation. They don't want to cause a range war, and they have to keep living there, where everyone is related to everyone else!

So it's up to the pilgrims. Once you know the situation, you can decide who to give your money to in St. Nicolas de Real Camino.

When you pass through town, take your break at the Other restaurant, Casa Barrunta. If you really need to stay at the refuge, ask the people in charge what's up. Maybe there's something going on that they are not aware of, some need for compassion that they cannot see.
This guy needs to know somehow the Camino population is aware of his tactics, and there's plenty of pilgrims (and pilgrim money!) to go around!
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