Today is my first day as a volunteer in a pilgrim’s hostel on the famous Spanish pilgrimage route – the Camino de Santiago.
Pilgrims have walked this path for centuries. In modern times its being rediscovered by thousands of people as a modern-day route to self-discovery.
Giving back to the Camino what the Camino has given to me over the years is an enormous privilege.
I arrived in Najera, northwestern Spain, in the valley known for its famous Rioja wines last night. As a volunteer hospitalero I am one of four people who serve in a pilgrims’ hostel for two weeks. We register the arriving pilgrims who come from places as far as South Korea, Colombia, Japan, Canada, Australia, and Kazakhstan. In the mornings we clean the rooms, toilets and prepare the hostel for the next group of pilgrims.
Every pilgrim has a story
Every pilgrim comes with a story and is happy to share some experience while on the way. Last night Darko from Croatia told me how he met a Swedish couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary walking the Camino. They were sitting on a bench looking at the vineyards in the valley below. “So has someone hugged you today, ” he asked. “No, they replied. You are the first one who asks.”
“Well, then can I give you a hug then?” he responded to the beaming couple.
My fellow volunteers are from France, Argentina and Spain. We converse in a mixture of pigeon Spanish and French. It always works out. All of us have walked the Camino several times and it doesn’t need much vocabulary to understand what needs to be done.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant