The Albergue at Granon is pretty special and a bit different from many of the Albergues I have been at. Tom Friesen, from the Canadian Company of Pilfrims and my Hospitaleros Training course leader has served as Hospitalero at this one and has spoken fondly of it. So I timed my walking days so I can stay here as I have done for two or three different Albergues run by the Amigos de la Camino so I could see how the different ones operate.
For the time being this post will have to be mostly narrative, internet is slow here at the Albergue in Belorada and I have spent a good deal of time waiting for pictures to upload for today's regular blog, so I will upload pics later when I have a faster connection. Pity, as the church that houses the Albergue, the Church of San Juan Bautista, provides a very neat space. You will just have to revisit this blog when I get them uploaded. :)
The Albergue itself is housed in the church loft accessed through a small door at the rear of the church and up a spiral staircase 2 flights. There are 2 dorm rooms, one on this level and another a loft above the Albergue living room is a couple of flights of stairs higher.
One flight up above the first dorm room is the living area, consisting of a living room with fireplace, kitchen, 2 bathrooms and a hallway serving as reception. All stone and wood, very cozy.
There are a few real differences in this Albergue from others I have stayed in, for a starter, there are no beds. You sleep on gym mats on the floor. Not so comfy but I was able to sleep ok. Another difference is that the pilgrims cook together the evening meal (guided by the Hospitaleros), clean up from the meal together and eat breakfast together. Also, there is a time of reflection at the end of the day when, depending on the Hospitaleros, there can be a sharing of song, daily memories and reflections and other things to help make the experience one that fosters the Pilgrimage and lifts it up from a mere touristic a experience.
There were 27 pilgrims at the Albergue and we all set about chopping, setting places, and doing other odd jobs for dinner. After the work was done we lounged around while the pasta sauce cooked and waited for the feast. I took the picture below of the feast in progress. I haven't had a better salad in a long time and the fresh veg in the pasta sauce gave my veggie cravings what they were looking for.
After dinner we all did dishes. Big tubs of water for washing stations were set up in the dining room and we each gathered around one station and helped wash the groupings of dishes we were assigned, plates, cutlery or glassware, Erving pieces or pots. I have never seen dishes done that way, but they were all done lickers-split and everyone was able to help fully.
After cleanup folks either waited around until the 9 pm sharing/reflection time arrived, or else just went to bed.
Barbara from Massachusetts was one of 4 Hospitaleras caring for the 27 pilgrims who were logged here. The Albergue had capacity for 40 but given that the "beds" we're mats on the floor, it was less popular. The Albergue provided both dinner and breakfast and was probably difficult to clean since it was so old and I think the 4 Hospitaleras were all kept pretty busy.