There’s one tiny thing that worries many pilgrims even before they start their journey: chinches (bedbugs). The bad news is that chinches are not attracted to dirt, so they can be found anywhere, even in 5-star hotels.
Should you worry about them?
It’s mainly a matter of luck whether you come across chinches or not. Some people have done several Caminos and never had an issue; other are not as lucky.
Their picaduras (bites) usually happen on exposed skin, such as cara, cuello, manos and brazos. Keep yourself covered!
They don’t transmit any diseases but they can cause itchy red bumps on your skin and some people can experience a reaction. Picaduras can become infected if scratched. Try to resist the temptation! You can visit the next farmacia and buy something to alleviate the itchiness.
What can you do about them?
Some people spray permethrin on their stuff. If you choose this option, you should do it 2-3 days before you travel. But be careful! Permethrin is toxic while wet (and very toxic to cats in particular). It’s safe once it dries, though. You can also use natural remedies such as peppermint oil.
But no matter what you use, keep in mind that, if you stay in albergues, you’ll be sharing your space with many other people. So, think of them too and make sure you don’t use anything with a very strong scent or that can cause an allergic reaction to others.
Once you are on the Camino, there are some precautions you can take too:
- Chinches can be easily transported in your mochila or clothes. So, don’t put your mochila on your bed.
- Check the bunk frame and colchón (mattress) for signs of chinches such as tiny black spots. If you find any, notify your hospitalero immediately and move on to a new place.
If you’ve been bitten:
- You should tell your hospitalero, so they can act on it and prevent future pilgrims being affected too. Picaduras by chinches are usually in a line. If you don’t notice them until after you’ve left the albergue, please inform your next hospitalero. They will make the call for you.
- Before you settle in your next albergue, you need to debug. The easiest way is to wash all your belongings in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer. If you can’t do this at once, put all your stuff in a big plastic bag and close it tightly until you get to a lavadora (washing machine).
Then examine all the seams and pockets to make sure there are no chinches left. If you fail to act promptly and thoroughly you could be spreading chinches along the Camino and even taking them home. Not a nice souvenir, is it?
Any other creatures you should worry about?
Unless you have some serious allergy, not really. There are several types of arañas (spiders) but none is particularly dangerous. And in the warmer months, you’ll probably come across moscas (flies), mosquitos, abejas (bees) or avispas (wasps).
Moscas are basically annoying but harmless. The others could potentially bite you. If they do and the picadura is bothering you, visit the next farmacia and ask for some antihistamínico cream/gel.
All this writing about chinches and other creepy crawlies is making me feel itchy. So, that’s it for today! I hope you have an insect-free Camino.
For the pronunciation of cara and cuello, check I’m not feeling well.
For the pronunciation of brazo and mano, check Your body.
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