This year 125 experienced pilgrims will return to Santiago to “put something back” by serving their fellow pilgrims. Some will serve in the Amigos Welcome Service in the Pilgrims’ Office. Others will help out in the Pilgrims’ Office albergue, Fin del Camino and in the Welcome Centre opened by the Dutch Association. We have 5 apartments to accommodate all of these volunteers who pay for their own flights and subsistence. May saw the first volunteers arrive. It is always an anxious time. “Will they all turn up?” “Will they all get on together?” “Will any of them be completely crazy?” are just some of the questions which run through the minds of us organisers.
Of course none of them were crazy. They all turned up and we all got on famously. As the Amigos arrived and began their work welcoming pilgrims to Santiago and congratulating every one of them, volunteers from the amigos association Via Lusitana in Portugal also arrived. They all joined their Dutch colleagues who had started a week before.
I’m not going to single any of them out. Thank you to everybody. During May 25,206 pilgrims were welcomed personally by them. There were many hugs, a few tears, some problems to be solved, many questions to be answered and loads of photographs to be taken of pilgrims with their Compostela. It is great but exhausting work. Like meeting a wave of happiness coming towards you all day long.
Here are some more scenes from this first month: