I’d sipped my daypack ahead to Albergue Espiritu Santu in Carrion, so after “second Breakfast,” I went off to find it. I was thinking of treating myself to a night at the 4 star hotel San Zoillo, in a former monastery at the edge of town. But when I found the Albergue, I decided to stay.
It’s in a former parochial school, and run by nuns. They’re a different order than the singing nuns that run Albergue Santa Maria.
I rang the buzzer and Sr. Maria Antonia let me in. She was dressed in street clothes, and like many Spanish people over 65 she was less than 5 ft tall. She had a warm, authoritative way. “Yes, they had my mochilla pequena. Did I want to stay?” I was a little skittish about Albergue life after my Fromista experience, but Sr. put me at ease and the price was right: 5€!
She took my passport and credential as usual, but asked first if I was de Alemania, or German, like everyone does. I asked her about the convent and if there were many sisters in residence. She said there were just s few, in their 80’s and 90’s. There was not a shared vesper service as far as I could tell. Then she gave me a thorough tour of the campus and was very clear that the door was Cerrado! at 10:00. Yes! Comprendo! She showed me all the statues of Mary and then the Pilgrims’ meditation room/chapel and sleeping rooms upstairs.
Camas, not bunk beds! Best of all, there was excellent wi-fi everywhere! I thanked her and settled in. It turned out that Tsmmi had already checked in and had the bed next to me.
Pilgrims were sunning themselves while their laundry dried in the warm corner of the former playground. There was a nicely equipped kitchen, and I decided to go buy some groceries and have salad for dinner. When I came back a young guy from Ashland, Oregon was organizing a dinner party so I added my salad to the mix.
There were many cooks in the kitchen: French, Swiss, German, and a young woman from Seattle. They were all the age of my kids. Vino Tinto was poured as we cooked, and multiple languages ricocheted around the tight kitchen.
Sr. Maria-Antonia came in and reminded everyone that they needed to be quiet and in bed at 10:00. Everyone nodded politely and thanked her. These young pilgrims were walking 30k a day, and they were tired by 10:00. The Oregon State student was walking the Camino in flip-flops. I guess you can do that when you’re 18!
I had arranged to walk around Carrion at 7:00 with Tammi, so I broke bread with the young-uns and then let them continue, which was fine because I felt slightly old.
Later, at 10:00, we were getting ready for lights out and Sr. Maria-Antonia came in with another Sister and said “Buenas Noches” to each one of us. I got a hug.