Camino Highlight: Tosantos
Regular followers of this blog will recall an entry about a unique albergue in the town called Grañon. Just one day’s worth of walking past Grañon on the Camino Francés is the tiny town of Tosantos. There is not much going on in the town itself – as far as I can tell, the only thing other than the albergue "San Francisco de Asís de la Parroquia de Tosantos" is one bar, a couple of houses, and a shrine to Mary about half a mile away from the bar, up the mountain next to the town.
The albergue itself, however, is very special. As in Grañon, there is no charge for staying and eating dinner there (it's donativo, or donations accepted), but the hospitalero, Jose Luís is an excellent host and cook. Those who volunteer to help him in the kitchen in the afternoon will be treated to learning from his cooking expertise, and even those outside the kitchen will hear him singing his favorite hymns and conscripting others to harmonize with him.
After a savory meal, Jose Luís and his helpers will offer the guests a choice – rest and prepare for bed, help clean the kitchen, or join them for a prayer service on the top floor of the building. The prayer service is simple, but is structured in a way I haven’t seen anywhere else. After dinner Jose Luís passes containers labeled with each major language, and participants select a slip of paper from the container that matches their language.
Each slip of paper has a prayer written by someone who stayed in the albergue in the last two weeks. Once everyone has chosen a prayer, pilgrims read them one by one, each in his or her own language, and then the group lifts up all of them. The guests are then invited to write their own prayers, knowing that future pilgrims will pray for them.
One of the most impactful moments of my first stay in Tosantos, however, was part of Jose Luís’ post-supper address to the guests. As the Camino gets more and more crowded, and beds get harder and harder to find without a reservation, it can be tempting to allow fear of losing a spot to drive your experience of walking. Jose Luís’ words are a helpful corrective to this worry and attitude:
“In the morning, we will serve breakfast at 6:00, and we will not open our doors until then. We encourage you to stay and eat with us, because this is a place of rest. We keep the doors closed, because on the Camino rest is very important, physically and spiritually. If we care only about leaving early we will view other pilgrims only as competition and not as brothers and sisters. We will get up earlier and earlier just to get a bed because we expect someone else to take it from us, but if we truly rest, we will have fellowship with our fellow pilgrims.”
Watch this short video featuring Jose Luís and the albergue at Tosantos.
Watch this short video portrait of Jose Luís, hospitalero at Albergue San Francisco de Asís in Tosantos, Spain.
Hunter Van Wagenen’s Camino experiences began in 2007, and he enjoys sharing the humorous and the miraculous stories, in addition to practical advice he has lived and collected. His dream is to live in Spain helping pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. He currently lives in Greensboro, NC with his wife Stephie, who will walk her first Camino this summer with Hunter. Hunter@CaminoProvisions.com