Bedbugs and other creatures

Bedbugs and other creatures

Bedbugs and other creatures |

There’s one tiny thing that worries many pilgrims even before they start their journey: chinches (bedbugs). Other tiny, little creatures too, but bedbugs are the main concern. 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 bedbugs on the Camino de Santiago?

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 bedbugs?

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.


What to do if you’ve been bitten by bedbugs

  • 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.


Today’s Spanish words



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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¡Buen Camino!

Necesito un médico

Necesito un médico

Necesito un médico (I need a doctor) is probably something you don’t want to say while on the Camino, right? And hopefully you won’t need it but… you never know.

If you’ve been following my weekly lessons then you will know that I’ve been doing a series on health related issues. Apart from body parts, we’ve also learnt other things. Let’s recap before we go on:

  • You are an EU citizen and you got your  Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea (European Health Insurance Card). And if you are from outside the EU, you got seguro.


  • Farmacias and parafarmacias can help with many of the most common problems. But you need to let them know of any relevant alergias (allergies) or conditions you may have, so they can give you the right remedy.


If you are allergic to something, you can just say Tengo alergia a… and complete the sentence with whatever causes your allergy: Tengo alergia a la penicilina or la aspirina, to name a couple.

*Note that you can use this expression in bars and restaurants too when ordering food, if you have any food allergies. Here’s a little test for you:

How would you say “I’m allergic to eggs” in Spanish?

(leave a comment with your answer!)


Sometimes the pharmacist can’t help or you already know you need medical attention. Then you may say… Necesito un médico (I need a doctor). As I explained a couple of weeks ago, you can go to the local centro de salud.


The médico will ask ¿Qué le pasa? (What is wrong?) and you can then explain. You can check last week’s lesson to revise how to talk about pains and other common ailments. Let’s add está hinchado (it’s swollen) and diarrea (diarrhea) to the list.


As with the pharmacist, you need to inform the médico of any medical history that may be relevant. I’ll give you a couple of examples: soy diabético (I’m a diabetic; replace the final -o in diabético with an -a if you are female) or tengo la tensión alta (I have high blood pressure).


Today’s Spanish words & phrases

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For new vocabulary that has become common during the pandemic, check Camino in times of pandemic.


¡Buen Camino!

I’m not feeling well

I’m not feeling well

I’m not feeling well |

As I promised last week, here is the second part of the body series. In today’s lesson you can learn a few more body parts and a couple of expressions you can use if you are not feeling well.

For the parts of the body, I’ll leave you again with an image (check the pronunciation below).

For the expressions, scroll down a bit.

I'm not feeling well

I’m not feeling well

OK. So you’ve learned a few new parts of the body. But they are not enough. Keep reading if you want to learn how you can use them to let someone else know that you are not well. We just need to add a couple more words.


  • Tos (cough) and fiebre (fever, temperature) are two common ailments you can suffer while doing the Camino de Santiago. If you want to say that you have a cough or a fever, all you have to say is Tengo (I have) tos or tengo fiebre.

  • Another common problem you can have is a pain somewhere in your body. If that is the case, you can say Me duele + body part; e.g. me duele la cabeza (I have a headache).


So how do you say “I have blisters” in Spanish? And “my shoulder hurts”?

Leave your answers in a comment.


And remember that a pharmacy is always a good starting point is you’re not feeling well. Pharmacists are quite knowledgeable and they might be able to help. If they can’t, they will tell you where to find help.


Today’s Spanish words

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¡Buen Camino!


Your body

Your body

I guess we all agree that your pies (feet) are the most important part of your body while doing the Camino de Santiago. After all, you’ll be walking for days or weeks.

In El botiquín I mentioned the most common problem your pies can have, ampollas, and I recommended some basic items you should carry in your mochila in order to look after your pies.

But what about the rest of your body?

  • Going up and down hills can put a lot of pressure on your rodillas (knees). Bastones (hiking poles) can help, although not everybody likes to use them.


  • A heavy or inadequately fitted mochila can also have a negative impact on your back and hombros (shoulders).


And, of course, as I mentioned in my previous post, some things are beyond our control. You never know if or when you will need to explain where it hurts.

Since there are many parts in our bodies (and that means many Spanish words, too!) I decided to split this topic into two posts. I’ll let a picture speak for me on this occasion (you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words…).

Next week, a few more body parts AND phrases to say you are not feeling well.

your body

* Dedo in Spanish means finger but also toe. We don’t have two different words for those. So, if you are talking about your toe and want to avoid misunderstandings, you can refer to it as dedo del pie.

Have you had any issues with your body during your Camino? Please, share your experiences!



Today’s Spanish words

For the pronunciation of pies, check El botiquín.


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¡Buen Camino!

Your health on the Camino

Your health on the Camino

Since I started this blog I’ve discussed different topics such as accommodation or food, but I only briefly touched on a very important one: your health during the Camino. So let me correct that.


Do you need any vaccines to walk the Camino de Santiago?

First, I’d like to clarify something: every now and then people ask on forums what vacunas (vaccinations) they need in order to enter Spain. The answer is NONE! You don’t need any vacunas to enter Spain or any other European country.

You can find that information, as well as other practical travel info in the following link:

* May 2021 edit: as a result of the covid pandemic, there are plans to introduce a European ‘vaccination passport’. It’s still not clear how it will work, but it doesn’t look like it will be a travel requirement.


In case of emergency…

Secondly, the number to contact emergency services in Spain and the rest of Europe is 112. It’s a free number. And they speak English. Make sure you know this number or keep it handy at all times. It would be a good idea to store it in your phone.


A few weeks ago I wrote a short post, El botiquín, about first-aid items to carry in your mochila. Hopefully, that’s all you will need: a couple of tiritas and an ibuprofeno or two.

But some things are beyond our control: You could get sick or even have an accident. That’s why it’s a good idea to be prepared.


  • If you are an EU citizen, don’t forget your Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea (European Health Insurance Card). The Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea entitles you to state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country.

The following link has contact information for every country where you can apply:


Where should you go?

If you need medical attention while in Spain, you can go to the local centro de salud with your Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea. 

On the other hand, when the centro de salud is closed (or your problem can’t wait) you can go to urgencias (A&E or ER, depending where you are from) to be seen by a doctor.

If you can’t get yourself to the centro de salud or urgencias, call 112 for assistance. Don’t worry if your Spanish is limited. As I mentioned, they have English-speaking operators to help you. They will assess the situation and dispatch an ambulancia or any other emergency services they deem necessary.


  • If you are coming from outside the European Union, then you should consider getting seguro (insurance).

And even if you are coming from within the EU, getting some seguro is not something you should dismiss, since the Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country.


If you are not convinced, read Nidarosa’s story:

My Scouse Spouse and I have walked together several times – Astorga to Santiago for our honeymoon, Hadrian’s Wall, then Astorga to Santiago again earlier this year. I knew he enjoyed it and he sometimes mentioned wanting to walk the Francés from St Jean Pied de Port to Astorga to see what I have seen, […]

via Accidents and Emergencies — Somewhere Slowly


You can find more health-related info and Spanish in Necesito un médico. Ideally, you won’t need any of this, but you know what they say: Better safe than sorry or Más vale prevenir que curar, if you would like to say it in Spanish!


Today’s Spanish words & phrases

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¡Buen Camino!