Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Angela and Kristine left for the convent of Santa Clara at 7h30 with a few of the pilgrims who also wanted to attend mass.  It is still dark and day breaks around 8am. I blew out all the candles in the bathroom and mopped and scrubbed in there first, barricading the door with broom and mop as I walked out.

Then I stripped the beds.  Angela had suggested that there was no need to wash the sheets every day so today would be the first time we didn't 'stew' them in boiling water. 
I went from bed to bed, taking out the blankets and pillows, shaking the sheets on the beds.  There was a little black speck on one of the sheets that didn't move.
 I got my Waka Waka and shone it on the bed.  Eeeek!  Was it a bed bug?  I picked it off the bed with a white tissue and carried it outside.  Is this what a bedbug looked like?  I wasn't sure so I rolled it up in the tissue and put it in a zip-lock bag.  I'd check with Angela when she got back but just in case, I would stew the sheets after all and spray the beds and walls as usual.  It took ages to boil enough water on the stove as only three burners were working but by boiling water in smaller pots I eventually had sufficient water to cover the sheets and pillowcases in large plastic basing.

I sprayed the walls and all the blankets and put them in the plastic containers in the sun.  Then I swept the dormitory and checked the dustpan.  Two more of the critters in the pan!  I rolled them up in toilet paper and added them to the zip-lock bag.

Usually by mid-day our beds are all taken but by lunch time today we only have 7 pilgrims signed in including a young Spanish woman with Tourette Syndrome, who I adopted as my assistant hospitalero.  She helped sign in a couple of pilgrims, showed pilgrims where to do their washing and held the fort while I walked to the tip to get rid of the trash.  She also helped with the chopping of the vegetables for Angela's lentil stew and was thrilled when we rewarded her with an extra piece of chocolate at dinner time!

At about 1:30 Angela and Kristine arrived back with groceries but no candles.  We were now critically low.  I called them aside away from the pilgrims to show them the bugs I had found.  Bed bugs.  Angela told Kristine to burn them whilst she took the Waka Waka to search the back wall where Kevin had said they liked to hang out.  She found two more.  
Although this didn't represent an outbreak, it was obvious that pilgrims were carrying them here from other albergues and we had to be extra vigilant about searching and destroying them.  Kristine thought we should close the albergue.  Angela didn't agree - this wasn't infestation, just a handful of 'passengers' being transferred by pilgrims.  We would continue to inspect the bedding, walls and floors and spray every day.

One of our pilgrims today was an Indian doctor from Mumbai.  We had a long conversation about South Africa and cricket - Finn would have been proud of me!  After dinner I was trying to push down the rubbish in our bin when I sliced my little finger on a tuna tin lid.  It bled like buggery and I called out, "Is there a doctor in the house!"  Our Indian doctor and our nurse Kristine took charge and cleaned the wound then applied pressure and strapped it up tightly.  Still blood was oozing through the dressings.  "You must sleep with the hand raised tonight," he said, "and see a doctor tomorrow in case you need a Tetanus injection." 

I would accompany Angela to the 8h30 mass and then we would walk to the village to find the doctor. 

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