Sunday, June 7, 2015

The First Week at the Albergue in Zamora - June 1 - 7

In my last blog I told you about our daily routine as Hospitaleras and today I thought I would Give you an update and also tell you about the Perigrinos (Pilgrims) which have arrived at the Albergue while we have been here and provide some observations about life at the Albergue.

Pilgrims are greeted with Frutus y agua

We have been in charge of the Albergue for 6 days now and have had 111 pilgrims stay the night, which is an average of 18 a night. There is a vast amount of difference in the amount of work to be done in a day depending on whether there are 9 pilgrims (the fewest we have had) or 30. It would be very difficult if there were 30 every night, but with 15-20 there is time to take a break for a short while before they arrive at 2:00 and in the evening before getting breakfast ready.

I did a bit of an analysis of the 111 Perigrinos we have had in the 6 days we have been in charge and fully 43% are Spanish. Often we find that the Spanish do not speak another language (and certainly not English), so both Jocelyne and I are giving our Spanish a work out. My Spanish is pretty bad, but Jocelyne's is much better, so she helps with the registration of the Spanish pilgrims if I am having difficulty. It is a good thing that I have Jocelyne here as nearly 20% of the Pilgrims are from France and they don't always speak a 2nd language and if so not often English. Given that there are many others who speak French (e.g. some from Belgium), as well as their mother tongue, her help with French has been essential. There is usually one or two Italians in the arrivals each day and they usually don't have a second language either but if they do it is usually Spanish.

We have some nice picture explanations which we use when explaining house rules if language is a problem. I really wish my Spanish were better, I see from the look on the Spaniard's faces that my pronunciation of some words and usage is pretty laughable. They are patient with me however for the most part.

Our Grupo Portuguese Bicyclists


Mr Italiano introduced himself as Il Presidente

Interestingly, there are fewer women walking this route than appeared the case when I was walking on the Frances Route across the top of Spain. There it seemed that women almost outnumbered men. Here, only 23% of the Pilgrims have been women in this first week walking on the Via de la Plata route running north from Seville or one of the other routes coming into Zamora. It seems though, that a greater percentage of women walk alone than men. We usually get 2 or 3 couples a day. Groups of male friends are common. Yesterday we had a group of 10 older men from Portugal doing the camino on bicycles. They said they do a bicycle camino route together each year. 27% of our pilgrims have been travelling by "bici". It seems the number of pilgrims arriving via bici is increasing as this hot weather continues. Perhaps the 30+ degrees celcius temperatures are discouraging some Spaniard's from walking but not discouraging others who have planned to cycle.

Using the Vapourette

Yesterday and today we did a "deep" clean of one of the 5 bedrooms, which added about an hour to our work day and also created a few loads of laundry, which has to be dried on the line before the Pilgrims arrive. The "deep" clean involves steaming the room - mattresses (all sides), pillows, bed frames and baseboards with the Vaporette as well as washing the sheets and pillowcases. The Vaporette pours forth steam at force and is supposed to kill chinces (bedbugs) - we hope not necessary. Jocelyne is skeptical that the Vapourette is a useful tool and I am not sure either. At least if there are some bed bugs we will for sure see them scurrying away as we do this "deep" clean. None have been evident to date. We heard that there have been chinces found in an Albergue further along (at Lubian) and we are hoping that we won't have to deal with an infestation. We have to "deep" clean each of the rooms once in the 2 weeks we are here. It is pretty tedious so we take turns when doing the rooms.

Coming back with groceries in our carry cart

During this first week we have established a nice division of labour as we have become more familiar with the work and each other's preferences. We now alternate getting up at 6 to ready and serving the breakfast, as unless there is a full house it is really a one person job. The other person gets to come down at 7 and we eat our breakfast together then while the last of the pilgrims pack up and head out. Because of the heat most pilgrims on foot leave early, but the "bicis" are not in as much of a rush.

We both work on the breakfast prep the night before, but the one getting up early is free to go to bed at 10 while the other finishes whatever needs doing and locks up and hustles the last of the pilgrims off the terrace and into their bedrooms shortly after 10. As to the cleaning, which we start immediately after breakfast, I have a preference for cleaning the kitchen, dealing with garbage sorting and transport and doing laundry while Jocelyne, who is much taller and can reach more easily to the top bunk beds, Is ok to work on cleaning bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs. Whoever is finished earlier helps the other, so we we end up finishing at the same time.

The Library around the corner from the Albergue
I deliver the garbage to these chutes.

I find the differences in small details of living quite interesting. Here, they do not have door to door pickup of garbage. Instead, we walk to a central spot at the parking lot of the library around the corner where we pitch our bags into various bins for glass, paper, plastics and "organico y resto". If you look into these bins they are bottomless as the bin is really just a chute and the garbage falls below. I haven't seen any garbage trucks and assume that there is an underground street or parking lot where the big bins are located and garbage is picked up.

We were able to grab a couple of hours for sightseeing on one of the days we had only a few pilgrims and also did not need to do groceries. I will post those pictures in my next blog.




  1. Thats an interesting blog peg,,thanks I enjoyed reading it. I like the garbage idea they should have that here, Pictures turned out nice,,,much better reading this on my laptop than my phone,,,,take care going to the next one, xo

  2. Thank you so much for your detailed description of your daily life. I am just finishing Day 3 and my co-hospitalera and I are settlng into a good rhythm each day as we share the work and time off for excursions in beautiful Estella. Our weather has been wonderful and the guests each night of our three nights have been great - interesting, fun, and a wide range of ages and nationalities. Lots of Italians and Spaniards and French, but also eastern Europeans, a Mexican, and an Egyptian last night.

  3. Mary Lynn glad to hear that things are going well for you in Estella.