Friday, September 11, 2009

Los Diabolitos de las Camas!

[Mostly, our posts stick strictly to actual events. This one may be exaggerated, just a smidge. The reader may decide...]

We arrived in Burgos, the big city before we skip to the final section of the camino to finish our pilgrimage. We'd phoned ahead for una reservacion, and were glad we had when we saw a dejected pair of pilgrims walk out of our hotel, saying "completo." [Full.] We planned a half day of rest, then to hop a train in the afternoon. We went to see Burgos Cathedral, had dinner with a wonderful camino-companion, then returned to our quiet hotel room.

I lay in bed not sleeping. Was it the very tasty chocolate we'd had after dinner? Or was it the itching? I scratched idly, thinking I'd perhaps encountered a hungry mosquito on the road. Then I noticed that I was itching in new places, which seemed unlikely if mosquitoes were the culprit. Then I heard...was it the sound of tiny drums? Then...a kind of festive chant, very soft and high-pitched, almost nasal. The drums increased in rhythm and urgency. It was eerie in the dark. I scratched again, and finally decided to turn on a light.

They were everywhere. Hundreds of them. Bedbugs, celebrating something very much like a luau, and the occasion of the feast was me. Some were dancing in little circles wearing ceremonial masks, doubtless thanking whoever their gods are for this more than generous feast. Others carried little torches as they scurried around accompanying the elderly or the lame to the party. (At least some looked elderly, being gray-haired and slightly hunched, if bedbugs can be described as hunched. The crutches identified the lame--even with 6 legs, sometimes life leaves one down a few legs, needing some help.) Others carried tiny bowls of...coleslaw? Potato salad? Jello? What are the side dishes of a bedbug luau? Sturdy bugs were setting up long tables, and it looked like they were trying to actually tie me down, tossing thin threads over one foot to try to hold me still.

I realized we were in trouble. Already a scouting party had discovered that another BBQ was in the offing over in Marty's bed. (I heard the little cheers.) "Marty! We're under attack!" We sprang out of bed, (upsetting scores of little picnic tables.)Marty reached into our medical kit, and lit a phosphorous flare to dazzle their multiple nocturnal eyes. I showered quickly, and we threw our belongings into our packs and fled the scene. We caught a taxi for the train station--we knew there was a 2 a.m. train for Ponferrada, and we could catch it easily. As we hopped into the cab, I heard tiny angry shouts behind us, and the sound of hundreds of hexapeds trying to regain their main course. As the door of the taxi slammed shut, scores of little arrows dinged off the windows.

The rest was routine. The 2 a.m. train delivered us safely, and without delay we have hastened to another hotel, where we are laundering everything we're not actually wearing, just to be safe. Sometimes, there is high drama on the camino. And the lingering itch assures me that it was not all just a dream.


  1. I enjoyed your post but I am so sorry you had this experience. As I said in reference to your story (see link provided above), sometimes humor is the only way to get through something like this.

  2. Oops -- I think I provided the wrong link. This post has the correct one.