February 12, 2004

Guide to the Worst Refuges on the Camino

You come across everything on the Camino. And in terms of refuges, you will find all kinds. You will find postmodern refuges, luxurious ones, others that are sparse. Some have impeccable facilities and others…not quite so. There are those that are churchlike, private, government-run, or association-run. Some are simple and nice while others are a “bit” like barracks. But all provide a benefit for pilgrims. They are all respectable and should be respected. If you do not like one, you can leave or put up with it. Tomorrow will be another day.

But among all the refuges there are some that are the worst. Yes, the worst:

They have no microwaves or washers. There is no telephone, no Coke machines or cigarette vending machines, no internet! Just imagine! Many of them do not even have beds and you have to sleep on the floor on thin little mattresses. I mean, these refuges are the ones that you should avoid at all cost because they are the most miserable ones on the Camino. The Consumer Guide gives them two thumbs down.

But these refuges do have something special. They are run by people who are devoted to pilgrims and who dinner and breakfast all together like a family. Careful! They do not feed you, but all the pilgrims eat together. If you are not careful, you will end up cooking spaghetti, peeling onions, or running to buy bread. And if you do not get one of those jobs, there is no way you will get out of doing the dishes! There are not usually scheduled hours for arriving or leaving, and cyclists have the same rights as those who walk, which is to say…none. Oh, I almost forgot! In all of them you are invited to pray, if you want to, of course, and God is thanked before eating. And, if you need to, there is usually someone who will listen if you need to talk.

These refuges are:
  • Arres. Pilgrim hostel
  • Eunate. The house next to the hermitage
  • Viana. Parish hall
  • Grañón. Pilgrim hostel
  • Tosantos. Parish house
  • Bercianos del Real Camino. Parish refuge
  • Foncebadón. Next to the church

If you are a normal and decent person, you will avoid these refuges by any means necessary. But if you are a little crazy and you are looking for something out of the ordinary, stop at these refuges and you will not be sorry.

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