The Happy Camper

After a soft launch yesterday, we are open for Pilgrims. Turns out it only takes 24 hours to go from reading a news story about No room at the inn for Peregrinos, groggy and tired, to opening a campground on the Camino Frances. No kidding.

I informed Jeff of the desperate situation and lack of beds on the Camino yesterday when he awoke. We were at Decathalon (like REI in the US) in Lugo 10 minutes before they opened. Twenty minutes later we walked out with ten tents and ten sleeping pads. On the way home Jeff imparted his game plan to me.

My first task was to send him the svg file for my cafe logo so he could 3D print me a stamp for their pilgrim’s passports upon check in. I laughed.

Jeff rendered me a Pilgrim Stamp in about an hour

‘Well, if we’re gonna do this thing. We should do it right.’ Was his rationale.

We got home and Jeff went out to the barn and started rummaging. Soon we had a tarp strung up over a metal structure that had just sat there since we moved in.

‘They’ll need a place to gather to eat. And two tables will fit under here. So we can comply with the Covid measures. Like all the other places.’

But where was he getting these tables? Turns out there is a ton of stuff in that barn and the multiple sheds on the property. Some of which we have never opened the doors. Then we needed chairs. The sheds didn’t disappoint. It seems a bird has been nesting in one of the chairs.

Is it elegant? No. I am not a fan of the big blue tarp. Will it keep pilgrims dry so they don’t have to huddle in their tents in the rain? Yes, it will. Jeff created a windbreak on the west side. As I wiped down the table and chairs, he tied it down with 100 meters of rope. The Barnim Bailey Circus had a less secure big top.

We made a trip into town for supplies. The spare fridge in the barn is full of drinks. I can keep our customers happy with snacks and beverages. Almost like a real cafe.

Everyone gets water upon check in

We have a station by the door to ‘check them in’. I figure we need to have all the stuff real Albergue’s have. The book to record their details: Name, passport, telephone. Especially for contact tracing – should it become necessary. I have my newly printed stamp 😉 and a thermometer to take temperatures (like they do in better hotels these Covid days). And the requisite litre of hand sanitizer.

Socially distanced Pilgrim Covid pods. aka ⛺️😉

I am pretty sure we are good to go. We were not considering doing anything like this 48 hours ago. But I do have plans for my own food truck next March. And an Eco-Albergue (fully sustainable) was in our longer term plans. I guess tents can’t be any more ‘Eco’.

‘Think of it in start-up terms.’ Jeff told me. ‘This is your MVP (minimum viable product). We’ll learn a ton from this experience. And help people in the process. It’s kind of amazing we can do this and stand it up this quickly. We can ask Pilgrims for suggestions, and record their feedback. It will save us on making costly mistakes later. It’s gonna be awesome. And it’s taken minimal effort.’

He is right. An invaluable experience. I’m excited about all the possibilities. Gotta go – Pilgrims are at the gate!

4 thoughts on “The Happy Camper

  • I am utterly amazed and impressed. As a 73 yr old potential pilgrim in September (Yikes! that’s really soon) I was reading with dismay the plight of pilgrims who can’t find a place for the night. You….to the rescue. The sensible side of me says things should be quieter in Sept/Oct when Spanish kids are back in school. Still it’s so heartening to see folks like you step up and get things organized so quickly. Hugs to you and Jeff and, who knows, maybe I’ll drop in later this year. Love Isobel in montreal

    Liked by 1 person

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