The Fine Art of Napping

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The Fine Art of Napping

by Francine Mastini | Tacoma, WA

As an hospitalera as on Camino, pacing yourself is part of the journey. In an albergue, you might have no pack to set down nor a shady spot to rest under, but you can find those stolen moments that your body and mind need. Trail or albergue, find a quiet place to cover your eyes and sink into a blissful 20-60 minutes of rest.

I hear you say, “I can’t nap.” My answer: “Did you always know how to [knit, grow a tomato, make a crazy awesome chili, etc.] or did you start rough and learn?” Napping doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Napping takes practice. Seriously.

A typical day serving at the donativo albergue in Logroño meant getting up; eating breakfast after the pilgrims had left; cleaning the kitchen, floors, beds, and bathrooms; and then washing my laundry and hanging it out to dry on the rooftop patio, all before lunch. (Did I mention the albergue has four flights of stairs and one very unreliable elevator?) 

Francine checking in pilgrims. Photo by Becky Rush-Peet.

After lunch, there was grocery shopping, garbage hauling, showering, greeting and registering pilgrims, cooking with pilgrims, singing at dinner with pilgrims, praying with pilgrims, and then setting up a pilgrim breakfast for the next morning.

If this sounds exhausting, it is. Take a nap. Even if that means just lying down and listening to soft music through your earbuds for 30 minutes. A half hour a day is all you need to develop the fine art of napping.

After welcoming the typical daily rush of pilgrims, we hospitaleros would take turns staffing the office to greet late-arriving pilgrims. When it was my turn, I found the office chair was a perfect spot to rest. Feet up, bandana over my eyes, I took many nice little naps in that chair. Another space for quiet was my bed. With window shades drawn, eyes closed, and the muffled din of pilgrim activity beyond my door, I’d take 30 minutes of quiet time after my shower and before we began preparing the evening pilgrim meal. 

Naps are a cultivated art form. That’s why there is a siesta. Here are steps to help you get started:

  • Step 1: Plan. Arrange a time with your fellow hospitaleros for each of you to have a break and some alone time.
  • Step 2: Location. Find a cozy spot where nobody can disturb you, preferably behind a closed door.
  • Step 3: Dark. Block out the sun, either with a shaded window or covered eyes. I highly recommend the bandana approach.
  • Step 4: Expectation. Set your alarm. Not a timer, which can make a nap feel like a task. This rest time is for you, and, in turn, your sanity and no-grump attitude benefits others.

What can happen if you don’t take a nap? You could get sick when rundown. Not only would you feel unwell, you’d probably feel horrible for your hospitalero mates, and you’d miss out on the rewarding experience of being a hospitalero.

Do everyone a favor. Take a nap!

If you are interested in becoming an hospitalero, please visit our Hospitalero Training page for more info, an FAQ, and our upcoming training sessions.

This story was featured in our Winter 2024 issue of La Concha. The theme was “The Artist’s Way”, and you can find the full issue in our archive here.

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