These ´donativo´refuges are run solely for pilgrims to Santiago and we find it amazing that people are prepared to volunteer to cook and clean up after us, out of the goodness of their hearts.
I decided that if I ever got back to Spain to walk a camino, I would volunteer in one of the donativo albergues. I was able to do a pilot online hospitalero course and was fortunate to be assigned to the albergue San Roque outside Corcubion on the Santiago to Fistera route. I should have started there on 27th June but whilst in Santiago I got a call to say that the albergue was closed for 4 days as there was a fiesta in the park and the stands were right up against the albergue building. I decided to walk to Finisterre and once there I was able to help out at the municipal albergue there for a day before being taken to the albergue San Roque.
From 4pm to 10:30pm I was assistant Hospitalera at Finisterre. Well, Begoña said that I was the hospitalera and she was the Police!
I walked through the dormitory tickling feet and telling everyone in a loud voice to get up and get out because it was after 8h30.
By 9am most of the peregrinos were downstairs in various stages of dressing. But when I went to check for a last time, there were clothes on the folding dryer, boots under a bed, a good collapsible walking pole in a corner and other paraphenalia in the room.
The Albergue has such a good reputation that we feel like custodians and promise each other to do our best to maintain the high standard of cleanliness, warm welcome and love established by our predecessors. Judith met us at the albergue and after showing us the rooms up and downstairs, where we would share a room, the showers, First Aid box, how the stove and washing machine worked, how to stack the pantry, what the general daily routine was, she helped us make a grocery list, then she took us into Cee which is the village right next to Corcubion, to do shopping. We went to Carrefour, a large supermarket where we bought provisions. They have an excellent delivery service and the goods arrived at the albergue almost at the same time as we did.
On the way back to the albergue she took me to the Correos to collect the parcel I had sent from Santiago with my working clothes, rubber gloves and On-Line hospitalero notes prepared by Rebekah Scot. These were to prove really useful in the days to come.
Isa offered to cook lentils for dinner and I said that I would make the salad. By 2:30pm pilgrims were queuing outside. San Roque officially opens at 4pm but Judith suggested we use our discretion and if it is raining or someone looks really desperate, we could open earlier.