This morning I departed from Hospital de Órbigo at 6:30am thinking to find breakfast in one of the next cities. There were after all two each within 2,5 km from the other so I felt to be safe. Unlike other mornings I was not carrying my usual banana or other supplies. Unfortunately it turned out that in both cities the bar was still closed. I could have known, only the Panderias open early and the bars in the big cities do, but in the countryside the Panderia is often not there and the bar opens later in the morning.
This basically meant another 11 km before the next city and before breakfast. Somehow this thought keeps one busy. Normally I can easily walk 16 km without food, but having had no breakfast makes you ponder on it while you walk. So I realized I had some cola left which would at least give me some sugar and you start to think like that.
How pleasantly surprised I was to climb a hill in the middle of nowhere and suddenly there was a shaft with a table with food. “The Camino will provide” is a saying often around on the Camino. This time it certainly was true. The table was filled with all organic food, bread, jam, muesli, bananas, coffee, etc. and it all was available on “donativo” basis. This means that you basically pay for what you feel it was worth.
The whole scene was set-up and run by David who actually lives there in the middle of nowhere. David is a Peregrino from Barcelona and he told me that he once walked the Camino and it made him realize the big difference between the “haves” and the “have nots”. He belonged to the “haves” and decided to change his life after his Camino and share all he has. Since four years now his table is 24 hours a day, year round available. He lives in a shelter next to the table made by himself and warmed by a stove. He calls his house “La Casa de Los Dioses” or the “House of God”.
Upon approaching the House of God you are welcomed by David with a big “Hello, where are you from? take what you want, this is your house”. You can imagine after having walked approximately 12 km thinking about breakfast this was a welcome oasis to me. The organic bread with organic marmalade tasted as the best piece of bread I have ever had.
David dedicates his life to the Camino and make it good for the Peregrinos (pilgrims) in his area. He has a clear view on people and told me to look at the eyes of people. He said the eyes show you the filter people have on the world. Your filter is open, hence you are here and we are talking, but he said, many people have a closed filter. They view “donativo” as not good, it is not commercial and can’t be good. They walk by without greeting and look the other way. Indeed a view minutes later surly looking pilgrim walked by and refused to reply to my ¡Holla! greeting, the common Spanish way Pilgrims greet each other.
When a Pilgrim leaves David’s house of God he will be hugged by David and he will ring the bell as a goodbye! David meets new people every day and told me that he has the best living room view anyone can have.
The encounter with David colored my day and made me ponder on his lifestyle and realize a lot. Also the first Albergue I stayed was based on a basis of “enough is enough”, Arno and Huberta already run their Albergue “L’Esprit du Chemin” for 10 years on the same basis. For 10 years their price for a dinner, bed and breakfast is 20 euro. Many other places along the Camino are based on the “donativo” principle, in fact the whole Camino is focussed on helping others.