Tuesday, September 15, 2015

13, 14, 15 SEPTEMBER - SAN ANTON

We woke up about 6am.  I had to use the loo so was the first up.  When I got back to the 'ice box'
the men were already dressed and Kevin had opened the big gates and the albergue doors.  Sunrise would only be just before 8am so we worked in candlelight, setting the table, boiling water on the gas stove, cutting bread for breakfast.  We spoke in whispers until 7am and then we started talking in normal tones as one by one the pilgrims started coming in for breakfast.

Once the pilgrims had left Kevin told me that they'd found occasional bed bugs, scourge of the Camino albergues, so he got me to help strip the beds, placing the sheets in large plastic basins so that they could be 'stewed' in boiling water to kill any bugs that might have been brought in by the pilgrims.  Every day he found a few bugs, either on the beds or on the walls at the back, so we carried all the mattresses out and examined them by brushing the seams and folds with a toothbrush.   They were then sprayed.   I didn't really know what bed bugs looked like but that day Kevin found a couple which he squashed before showing me.
Once that was done we shook each bunk bed to dislodge any bugs that might still be there, sprayed the floors and the walls and closed the door.  Then we had to spray all the blankets and put them in black bags in the sun.  After 30 minutes or so, I swept the dormitory using a dustpan so that I could check to see if there were any bugs.  This was painstaking, heavy work and I wasn't sure that two women would be able to continue with this regime once the men left.

As we started to carry the mattresses back into the room, Rebekah arrived with mattress and pillow covers and three large plastic containers.  YAY!  This meant that we would not have to carry the mattresses out every day and we'd be able to put the blankets into the containers in the sun.   Whilst we were treating the mattresses, blankets and linen, Robert was 'stewing' the sheets and we helped to hang them.  Robert liked to do the main room so I cleaned the shower and toilet and our container. 

During all this housework, pilgrims started arriving from nearby Hontanas at about 8am and we often stopped working to answer questions and to promote the albergue.  Kevin was really good at that!  He took his washing to the water pipe at the canal that ran alongside the ruins and solicited passing pilgrims - hence we were full nearly every night!  In the afternoon a dear little man by the name of Justi arrived.  He was standing in for the owner, Ovidio, who was away on holiday.  If we needed anything we could phone Justi at the hotel.

We had some great candlelight dinners using what we had in the pantry cupboard like pasta, lentils, chickpeas and rice with a salsa sauce and a salad.  Kevin got the pilgrims involved, some doing flowers for the table, some setting the table, others helping with preparation.  After dinner Kevin asked each person to pass a candle around and say thank you to the Camino.  There were some special moments when pilgrims got emotional or shared deeply personal information about why they were walking the Camino. 
The next morning a pilgrim who initially wasn't going to stay the night, told Kevin that he had caught his wife with his best friend and although he was still very angry and deeply hurt, his stay at San Anton had given him the courage to write to her and forgive her.  He had decided to stay at San Anton after I told him that it was a place of healing.

On the 15th Kristine from Australia arrived at around mid-morning.  She came bearing gifts as well as two large fruit cakes!
Whilst I was hanging the sheets Marion and the rest of the group arrived.  I was so pleased to see them and even got a bit emotional about some of the hurting people who had stayed at the albergue.
 Kevin had his last day, staying to help us with the dinner before he left.  Robert spent the night with two ladies in the ice-box, nearly injuring himself when Kristine's head lamp fell down from the top bunk and landed underneath Robert's bed.  He tried to hang over the side of the bed and retrieve the torch but being a long, lanky fellow, ended doing a somersault, head first off the bed with his backside in the air and head under the bed!  We laughed so loud that the container shook!

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