We knew the day could come. Bed bugs are everyone’s fear on the Camino. They certainly were ours.
Before we left home, we treated all of our clothes, pack and other items with permethrin hoping to keep the pests away.
On Sunday, September 11 we dragged ourselves into the Albuergue Parroquial de Bercianos de Real Camino after walking the last 10k (of 23k) with again no bathrooms or other luxuries. It was my favorite of the long stretches as this area of Leon provides shade trees along the Camino. It was still a quite a hot day. Upon our arrival, we were told we would be unable to get a bed as they recently had a bed bug infestation and have professionals coming to do a more thorough job tomorrow (actually today). He had floor mattresses on the first floor which never had an issue. We were welcomed to stay there.
We weighed our options since it was past 2 pm. We were beat and no other place had beds in town. We would have to walk another 7k with no guarantee beds would be available. We decided to stay.
The place was a ‘donativo’, meaning you pay what you like. Never means free. You should pay comparable to other Albuergues, but it is at your discretion and ability to pay. After deciding to stay, they explained they were making dinner for us.
Chores came first and after a 10 minute walk we returned to rest as the village didn’t offer any sightseeing options. Soon I could hear singing from the front of the Albuergue. Sure enough Pasquale was on the guitar playing tunes for all us pilgrims to singalong. A wine mixture called clarinete was passed around and another fun evening followed. He hospitaleros did a fabulous job of cooking and delegating different chores to pilgrims who all happily completed. The ‘alubia’ or ‘judias’ were good, but there fresh lettuce, tomatoes and apple salad was the best thus far. They topped it off with arroz con leche for dessert.
While singing along I noticed a fellow pilgrim I met several stages ago with the tell tale signs of bed bugs. I didn’t ask questions as I figured he and his wife had taken care of them. After an itchy night thanks to my overactive imagination, he asks for me to translate. He wanted to see a doctor due to bed bugs. Now we learned he hadn’t treated the infestation. We can debate if he tried to accuse this Albuergue, but it was an invalid argument because several saw the welts the day before. In the end, they decided to taxi on to Leon so he could see a doctor and everyone told him he should tell the next Albuergue right away so they can help him treat the problem. If you plan to be a pilgrim, please don’t exasperate the problem by keeping quiet. All you will accomplish is to spread the infestation. Luckily, that facility already had professionals coming in that day.
As for today, we walked over 20k to Reliegos which included a 13k stretch with no facilities. It’s another sleepy village featuring many casa cuevas or hobbit like homes outside of Leon, but we did have a tasty lasagna for lunch and lots of time to relax.
Tomorrow we hit Leon! Have I mentioned I loved big cities?