from St. Jean Pied de Port
Reynolds - San Francisco CA
Pilgrims Hospitalero News - Dec.2009)
the end of my third full day at the pilgrim's office
in Saint Jean Pied de Port, and the end of my 44th
birthday. I am the happiest person around.
few months ago I was thinking of what I wanted to
do to celebrate my birthday this year. I knew I
wanted it to
involve Europe and the Camino, but I couldn't picture
myself wandering around Spain alone for that day.
Then I remembered the offer I received in April
2007 to go back to France to volunteer at the pilgrim's
here I am. The pilgrim's office provides credentials
and stamps for people who are on or beginning their
pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. My job is
to issue credentials, stamp them, collect euros,
sell beds in the pilgrim's hostel, and dispense
information about the town and the hike over the
hill into Spain. I am one of five people volunteering
here this week. Three of us speak English, four
speak French, one speaks Spanish (me !!!), and one
speaks both German and Dutch.
train arrives four times a day and each time it
is madness. Twenty to 40 people arrive to become
pilgrims and the queue stretches down the street.
Usually the five of us are serving two to three
people at a time and speaking four different languages
as we do. The craziest time is when the 7:35 p.m.
train arrives - the last one of the day when there
are very few beds left in the town. Most people
have not reserved ahead - because they can't. At
9:30 p.m. we are still finding beds for the last
Monday when I arrived (with a trainload of 30+ people),
neither I nor the train were expected. I immediately
plopped down next to Chantelle from Quebec, went
through the see-it-two-times-and-then-do-it training,
and voila!, I was turning people into pilgrims.
have welcomed more than 200 people each day since
I arrived. That means the towns along the Camino
be bursting at the seams with pilgrims. This far
exceeds the capacity of the accommodations I know
about. I plan to start walking into Spain in just
over a week...I hope things slow down a bit by then.
am having a blast. Every time I point to the spot
on the credential where the stamp in Santiago goes,
I almost start crying. Just to think about what
is to come for these people, I am so happy. They
are about to start the most amazing journey of their
lives, and anything can happen from here.
à Q.Pratique retour
at wanadoo.fr - 23/11/2013