The whole concept of donativo remains a pleasant mystery to me.
Tonight we are staying in a Refugio associated with CRU. One, it is cool that CRU are working here in Spain, but Two, it is the second refugio we’ve stayed at during our stay. The difference is remarkable.
Most albergues are government run (Municipals). They are modern , efficient and generally clean , but a bit sterile – sometimes in purpose built buildings. Other Albergues are “association” run. These are private, for profit albergues and vary widely in service and efficiency (the German ones are clean, cheap and efficient for example).
But these Refugio’s are unique. They are typically run by individuals or sometimes religious groups. They have the most character (typically in restored abandoned houses). But it is the people that make them unique. Right off the bat, you are treated differently. Their care for the pilgrims seem so much more genuine. Today, for example, once “checked in” we weren’t allowed to carry our packs. They were graciously toted up the steps an hung by our bunks by the volunteers.
Tonight at this one there is a movie and a communal dinner. I’m looking forward to it.
We walked 24+km today at are very fast pace such that we checked in by 1pm. So we have the afternoon to kick back and relax. We are only 3-½ days from Santiago. It is so hard to believe we are this close. Time is now flying by. We have yet to decide what to do with out “extra” days but – believe it or not – we will likely walk another 100km from Santiago to Finesterra (the end of the earth) – a fitting end to our Camino
The crowds have definitely grown. We walked about 3hrs in relative solitude until Portamarine where we ran into the famed bus loads of pilgrims replete with taxis driving slowly along like buzzards waiting to feed off of unprepared or overly ambitious newbies. It was quite a site.
More a bit later as we absorb this wonderful spot.