Quiet things are happening, under the ground and behind the scenes. Angels are being born.
Important people are meeting up and hatching plans. Accountants and lawyers and concrete-mixers are being consulted. Prayers are being prayed, and decisions are being made.
I don't think any of us likes to wait, but that's where we are right now, here in the bowels of February. I do things besides the Peaceable Projects Inc., in the long, quiet spaces between the mad rushes.
Today, Alma Hospitalera, the little team of volunteers that keeps things running at Albergue Villa de Grado, gathered together and drove down over the mountain to visit Peaceable Kingdom. We discussed business, we argued the wisdom of dispensing souvenirs, we went to St. Nicolas and ate a huge paella. A good time was had by all.
I am supposedly in charge of this gang, but they truly do just about everything up there without any kind of oversight from me. (All I do is recruit volunteers to keep it open, March through October, and tell the FICS board what they´re up to.) Anyway, these guys live and work in Asturias, three hours from here. Milio, Elidio, and Helena are longtime, hard-core volunteer hospitaleros, known all over Spain and Portugal. One, Elena, is kinda new, but she has already more than earned her stripes in the past year, stepping in when the needs are great. (She´s a pharmacist, experienced at organizing. She´s going to rationalize our daily bookkeeping, hallelujah!)
These people don't just fill in when they´re needed. They count the money and deposit it in the bank. They liaise with the Guardia Civil, the town council, the guy repairing the tiles in the bathroom. They are called-in to cope when the drunken pilgrim falls down the stairs, or the toilet won't flush, or somebody´s wallet goes missing. They make sure the volunteer hospitaleros know how to use the de-humidifier, the color-coded cleaning rags, how to make sure the bossy sheep don´t get all the vegetable scraps before the lambs arrive.
November through February, when the albergue is closed, they get a municipal crew in to do repairs. They fill the downstairs with boxes and barrels of donations for a charity in sub-Saharan Africa. They team up to visit the old peoples' home down the street, and take the grandparents on a “virtual camino” with credentials, videos, songs, and snacks.
They go together to visit other Primitivo albergues, places like Bodenaya, Tineo, Grandas de Salime, to see the hospitaleros there, to have cakes and chupitos, to keep the lines open and wheels greased.
Alma Hospitalera is not a Peaceable Project. It's not even a formal non-profit, or community association. But it is the kind of group PPI was created to love to support. They are just one of many little nests of goodwill and positive energy that sparkle and shine along the Caminos de Santiago, even when there aren´t any pilgrims around.