The Unexpected Happened in Logroño

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The Unexpected Happened in Logroño

by Becky Rush-Peet | Enumclaw, WA

Becky Peet in Lograño, hospitalero, group eating dinner.
Communal dinner at Albergue Parroquial Santiago El Real in Logroño, Spain, September 2023. Photo by Becky Rush-Peet.

Pilgrims walking the Camino typically fall into the daily rhythm of walking, eating, and sleeping. Hospitaleros follow a different rhythm: rising early to set out breakfast; bidding pilgrims goodbye by 8 a.m.; cleaning beds, bathrooms, and kitchens; shopping for food for the night’s dinner; registering arriving pilgrims and listening to their stories; organizing and preparing the communal dinner; and at some locations running and participating in an evening gathering. Then it’s off to sleep before repeating the same routine the next day.

But just as peregrinos run into surprises, so do hospitaleros. During our training, we were advised to “expect the unexpected.” The training laid out some common issues to anticipate, but reminded us that anything unanticipated can happen, as did with a Danish pilgrim I met last fall.

An elderly man arrived at our donativo albergue in Logroño in a motorized cart, with a pilgrim passport, wanting to stay for the night. He had impaired mobility after suffering a stroke several years earlier. The stroke left him with weakness in both his left arm and left leg, but with the help of a cane he could walk short distances. He was determined to travel the entire Camino Francés from Roncesvalles to Santiago.

At first, we were unsure we could accommodate him because he had arrived on a motorized contraption, but I felt that refusing him lodging would be discriminatory. Then someone raised concern that the albergue didn’t have designated facilities for the disabled. But really, what were his limitations that we couldn’t accommodate? He could get on and off his cart, and he could get in and out of a chair. While the albergue had some beds, most of the sleeping spaces were mats set out on the floor. It might be easier for him to sleep on the mats. If, on the other hand, he preferred to sleep on a bed, a tiny elevator could take him up to the 3rd floor where the beds were located. The biggest obstacle was plugging in his motorized cart to charge it overnight, but even that we solved! We found an extension cord and snaked it out a bathroom window into the courtyard where he had secured his cart. He joined us at our communal dinner and befriended a young lady from Taiwan. After dinner, he proudly took her out to the courtyard to show off his cart!

A week later, I spotted the Danish man on someone’s blog; he was nearing Burgos. I was moved to see him accomplishing his quest, and approaching his destination. I felt proud that we had accommodated him and helped him for that night of his Camino.

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

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