Meet Santiago Seseña Rodriguez, a longtime hospitalero whose lifetime dream of an albergue of his own finally came true in 2018. 

Santi runs the Albergue de Peregrinos de Izarra, a 20-bed private operation on the Camino del Norte, just east of Comillas. Santi´s a Madrid native who for years worked alongside Jose Luis, the charismatic hospitalero at Albergue San Francisco Asis in Tosantos. Like his mentor, Santi is a talented host and a quietly spiritual guy. 

The Izarra albergue was founded in 2016 by Alex, a former taxi driver turned Camino apostle. He started Albergue Bodenaya, still a landmark of generosity on the Camino Primitivo, as well as a couple of other non-profit pilgrim establishments. If you visit Izarra, you may meet Alex -- he still serves as a volunteer hospitalero there sometimes.     

I met Santi a year ago, when Peaceable Projects installed new picnic benches and tables in the garden outside the Tosantos albergue. When I heard that Santi had taken charge at the Izarra albergue, and that he was freezing this winter in its un-heated garret, I got in touch. 

Canadians know about cold, and about keeping warm. They are fabulously generous, and they know how to move fast. It was a perfect match. 

He´d heard about the pellet stoves at Santa Cruz in Sahagun, he said. He didn´t know a privately owned albergue qualified for Peaceable funds.

Public, private, or parochial – it´s the donativo spirit that makes the difference!  Can a pilgrim stay there if he has no money? Is there a genuine need for the prospective project? If the answer is a proven “yes,” then sure! Peaceable donors are here to help! 

I asked Santi to get some builders´ estimates. And just about then, a friend at Canadian Company of Pilgrims sent an email. “We have money left from last year,” she said. “It´s burning a hole in our pocket! What´s the next project on the Camino?” 

Canadians know about cold, and about keeping warm. They are fabulously generous, and they know how to move fast. It was a perfect match. 

Soon as Santi found the right builder and had a figure in hand, I touched the Canadians for a cool 3,000 euros. The British Colombia branch gave 1500 euros, and the national group gave 1,500 euros. Beauty! 

The money arrived today. The installation works will begin after Holy Week.  

I never even had to pass the hat!  

Big thanks to Canada. And for supporters who are not from there, we´ve used funds from our past fundraisers and our monthly donors this winter to buy a washing machine and vacuum cleaner for a pilgrim shelter in the mountains of Leon, some downspouts for a little place on the San Salvador, and maintenance supplies for the Pilgrim Memorial Grove.  

More projects, big and small, are afoot. Thanks to YOU, the Camino keeps chugging along. 

We Buy the Beds and Make the News!

Peaceable tries to work quietly, behind the scenes. I avoid media attention whenever I can, because that’s not what we’re really about – but I know how powerful a well-placed story can be in getting things moving. 

Our first Project for 2019, the Tabara Beds initiative, hit the local newspaper this morning in Zamora, because Jose Almeida does not share my reticence!  You the donors to PPI funded this – I handed over 2,000 euros in crisp bills to Jose a week ago, and he phoned up the bunkbed builders right then and there.  

So here you go, in black and white!    

New Beds for Pilgrim Heads


Jose Almeida is an ambitious guy, but he happens to live in the middle of a great, wide wilderness north of Zamora with not a whole lot going on. He has to make his own action. 

After 16 years and thousands of pilgrims, the 14 beds and mattresses at Albergue de Tabara are BUSTED! Help Peaceable Projects raise 2,000 euro to replace them all before the season starts!

After 16 years and thousands of pilgrims, the 14 beds and mattresses at Albergue de Tabara are BUSTED! Help Peaceable Projects raise 2,000 euro to replace them all before the season starts!

Happily, there are caminos passing through his town, and the pilgrims and albergues and trail keep his ideas popping and his friends hopping all through the year. 

Sixteen years ago, Jose and his friends opened a humble albergue in Tabara, a town north of Zamora on the Camino Sanabres branch of the Via de la Plata. Jose lives there, very simply, year round.  He's gone on to open more albergues, and write books, and he edits a semi-monthly online magazine that keeps all the Spanish camino people connected-up and current. Peaceable has done some fund-raising and liaison work for a few of these projects in the past: the new Albergue de Almendra is set to open in March, with help from several Peaceable allies!  

.... But whilst slinging concrete and bricks and verbs for everyone else, Jose has let a few things slip at home. 

After 16 years and about 2,000 pilgrims,  a third of the 14 beds at albergue de Tabara are not useable any more. The welds on the aluminum joints are worn out, re-welded, and broken apart yet again.  Wobbly legs are duct-taped together.  The mattresses are also 16 years old. 

Jose's got some money put aside, but not nearly enough to do an entire replacement job. 


If we can raise 2,000 euro, he can open this season with bright new bunkbeds and fresh mattresses!  Anything we raise over that amount can go to put bedbug-proof covers on the mattresses.   

If you want to help out, please make your donation via our Paypal account in the link below.  And thank you for being a part of ongoing good things over in the western end of Castilla y Leon!   

Mid-October news from Peaceable Projects


Dear friends, 

The weather is cooling, but things are warming up at Peaceable Kingdom in Spain. 

The pellet stoves are being installed next week at Monasterio Santa Cruz in Sahagun. Your on-the-spot generosity has the Marist Fathers' project a full six months ahead of schedule, and will endow the Benedictine monastery with a notable infrastructure upgrade. 

Up next: Portugal!  I am traveling to Albergheria a Velha next weekend to give a talk about Camino Hospitality, and while there I hope to sell the Portuguese on Ditch-Pig style cleanup operations!  The Camino Portguese is experiencing a great boom just now, and the people "on the ground" are a bit overwhelmed by it all... no one has ever done a comprehensive cleanup on this camino.

So on Nov. 25, Ditch Pig volunteers will gather in Oporto and set off on the trash trail, armed with shovels and bags and a map of the "black spots" between that city and the Spanish border. We'll clear up the worst of it, and if time allows we'll double back and sweep south to clean up the space between. I hope to have some local volunteers join us!  


Meanwhile, just outside Astorga, PPI has installed two new memorial stones at the Pilgrim Memorial Grove. We're shifting all but the Denise Theim stone to a vertical placement along a wall in the park, so maintenance workers can better care for the trees. (our concrete placements were damaging their roots!)  Sometime in late August or September, another stone appeared in the park, memorializing a Greek-American pilgrim who cleared up trash along The Way. We do not know who put the stone there, and we don't know if the pilgrim died on the Camino, but we're mounting the stone on the wall alongside the others. We obviously need to mark the site and better explain how it functions... a project for 2019? 

Thanks to all of you, it's working!  

Marist Fathers and a Call for Heating at Albergue Santa Cruz in Sahagun

The novice wing at Holy Cross Benedictine monastery in Sahagun is an albergue these days... help us warm the place this winter with two new pellet stoves!

The novice wing at Holy Cross Benedictine monastery in Sahagun is an albergue these days... help us warm the place this winter with two new pellet stoves!

The Benedictine Monastery in Sahagun has been sheltering Santiago pilgrims for a thousand years. In 2017, Marist Fathers stepped in to take on the hosting duties, offering a traditional communal dinner, pilgrim Mass, and low-cost shelter for any pilgrim in need. 

But centuries-old convents are not noted for coziness. In winter, even indoors, you often can see your breath hanging in the air. Not a lot of pilgrims pass by this way in the dead of winter, and the ones who do are usually chilled to the bone on arrival. The welcome is very warm, the food is hot, the pilgrim blessings rich and fine. But the ceilings are high, the walls are stony. It’s cold in there. 

The three missionary priests took over this place last March, and switched on the old gas boiler soon as they moved in. The heating bill for two weeks came to 1,000 Euro!  

And now, with another Castilian winter bearing down, the fathers are getting ready.

And now, with another Castilian winter bearing down, the fathers are getting ready. They’re installing insulation and heavy doors on one small corner of the convent, reducing down the sleeping space to 13 beds, a dining area, and a small chapel for the evening Mass and blessing. They’ve shopped around and consulted with the experts, and plan to install two pellet-burning stoves to warm the novitiate wing through the cold, lonesome days of winter as it comes in and goes out. (they return to the motherhouse mid-December to March.) Or as Fr. Daniel puts it himself: 

“We have thought to keep 14 beds available for pilgrims, in 3 rooms… The municipal albergue is open the whole year, but last March pilgrims complaint that there was no heating... The amount money saved would be huge: the man of the heating said that we would spend in 6 months (with the heating 15 hours/day on) 800€, and we spent in half month last March 1000€. So, we could save up to 4000€ next winter (thinking that we'll be open until end of November or mid December and from beginning of March onwards), which it will be a similar quantity to the intial investment.” 


Father Daniel Fernandez, the priest who heads up this initiative, is an old friend of Peaceable. He served in Carrion de los Condes and Terradillos as part of the Camino Chaplaincy program, and has walked the Camino de Santiago himself.  Sahagun has for years been a less-than spiritual stopping place for pilgrims, and when Daniel saw the opening, the Marists joined with the Madres Benedictinas in Sahagun to fill the gap. We support their efforts, and always recommend Albergue Santa Cruz to pilgrims who plan to stop in Sahagun.   

Peaceable Projects helps to fund just this kind of pilgrim-centered non-profit infrastructure improvement… and Peaceable Projects is YOU. 

The fathers need 2,000 euro to buy the stoves, and at least that much more for the chimneys, installation, and enough pellets to last November through March.  Peaceable has already committed 1,000 euro to this project, and we’d like to at least pay for the stoves… So if you are looking for a way to support the pilgrim path, to “give back” via a certified non-profit, make your donation now via Peaceable Projects Inc. Your donation is tax-deductible in some parts of the world.  

If you live in Europe and would like to make a Euro donation direct to the Marist Fathers, please send a note and I will forward bank deposit information. 

Ancient rhythms


"I am a pioneer. I like to explore things up front and see if they can work. I like waymarking new trails, and getting lost, and getting found again, and telling people “Hey! Check this out!”  

I like busting the sod and building the first cabin in town, but I´m not a settler. Once things get up and running, I tend to lose interest. I find some able hands to keep it going, then I move on to something new. 


Or I find some way to renew the old thing.  The Ditch Pigs Camino Cleanup, for instance. 

This year, if I can raise enough volunteers, I hope to take the Pig Wagon on the road, to clean up a rather considerable mess over west of here. I´m talking a guy named Ze, founder of the Portuguese camino association, (a pioneer), about identifying the worst of the “black spots” along the newly booming Camino Portuguese Interior, rounding up some Portuguese  volunteers, and getting Peaceable´s crack team of litter-pickers over there for our usual five days of labor in late November.  I am told there´s some hair-raising trash to be cleared! Yippee!  

Meantime, in October, I´m invited to speak to the Portuguese Amigos national convention. I am not sure what I will say yet. I don´t know that much about pilgrimage in Portugal. I am about to learn. 

In other Peaceable news, we installed two more memorial plaques in the Pilgrim Memorial Grove in Ecce Homo Park, Valdeiglesias.  Lion Spijkers, a Dutch pilgrim who died last year in Ribadiso de Baixo, and Charles Merrifield, a Californian who died in 2008 in Villafranca Montes de Oca, now have their memories carved in stone along the Way.  We are slowly shifting the memorial stones to a vertical position, as the parks department in Astorga has changed its mind about planting and maintaining our trees!  The Denise Theim memorial, however will remain as-is, with its trademark red maple in a central position.   

Work is in progress to replace the last of the lumpy mattresses at Albergue Monasterio Santa Cruz in Sahagun. The Marist Brothers who took over running the place this year are fighting hard to get the word out about their unique offerings – they missed the deadlines last year and were not listed in pilgrim guides, and this year´s big dip in pilgrim numbers on the Camino Frances didn´t help much. Still, their project is in The Big Hands. 


Like Kim´s new enterprise! Longtime Peaceable supporter Kim Narenkevicius has opened the doors at last at The Stone Boat, a snug and soulful new bed and breakfast in Rabanal del Camino!  She is all over the web, and we are working the networks to let everyone know… including you!  

But the ancient rhythm rolls on here on the Meseta. Summer went fat and green, then burst open, then turned brown. The rye and barley are cut, the straw baled and stacked into great architectural wonders in the fields, casting black  geometric shadows afore and behind as the bright day moves on. 

I have been a bit distracted this summer with finishing two book projects, and dealing with a family crisis down in Malaga province, an 8-hour drive south of here. But the ancient rhythm rolls on here on the Meseta. Summer went fat and green, then burst open, then turned brown. The rye and barley are cut, the straw baled and stacked into great architectural wonders in the fields, casting black  geometric shadows afore and behind as the bright day moves on. 

The Semana Cultural and town fiesta were big successes this year, big crowds and plenty to do, no fireworks, and no fights that I´ve heard about.  Marivalle, the newest Moratinos resident, stepped up into the leadership role in the Cultural Association and did us all proud.  I was a founder of the group, lo those four years ago, and I am Vice President now. I get to throw up lots of ideas, and everyone else can execute them. Or not!    

Do let me know if you´d like to be a Portuguese Pig. Or if you´d like to fund one! 


The 'Ditch Pig Retreat' - Join us in November!

Doing good along the Holy Way

Imagine this:  

  1. Fly into Santiago de Compostela and meet up with some jolly, fit former pilgrims in the final days of November.

  2. Head out onto the trail to Pedrouzo, walking backward up the camino, picking up litter all the way. Meet another cleanup team coming the other way.

  3. Everybody jump into a van loaded with trash bags, picker-upper arms, shovels, rakes, and snacks, and head east along the Way to the next good-size town. Repeat.

  4. Stay overnight at whichever albergue is open when everyone feels tired.

  5. Eat, drink, be merry. Go to sleep.

Then next day, do it all again. Hit the first two or three kilometres west of each large town, places where litter happens most. Do this for five days max. The whole Frances will get a real facelift.   

… Or perhaps do the same, but southward, down the Camino Portuguese?

Trail demographics are shifting this year. Fewer pilgrims are traveling the classic Camino Frances, and relatively more are taking the Camino del Norte and the Portuguese path from Oporto. Ditch Pig volunteers have been picking up trash in Palencia for TEN YEARS now, so it´s time we looked farther afield for more target-rich pickings, places where a litter team may not have fearlessly tread! We will do our usual maintenance on wayside memorials.  

Taking the Pigs on the road will require more planning, and probably more money, too – we shall have to raise more funds, drive farther, sleep somewhere, and eat our dinners away from home. We all know how to travel light and cook pilgrim meals, but we´ll still have to buy ingredients.

So, if you are a veteran Ditch Pig, or a wannabe, share your opinions and reserve your place. Unless we rent a bigger van, space is at a premium!  And if you´d like to support this effort, you know what to do – hit one of the “donate” buttons and you´re on your way!