My previous night’s albergue was in León, where I slept in a monastery with roughly 80 beds in one room (all men). It was fascinating to hear so many males breathing, snoring, coughing, wheezing, letting off gas and steam and creating disturbing sounds when turning over in squeaking beds. Two pilgrims sleeping close to me had a snoring contest, but I was tired enough and in my state the noise just faded away. In fact it almost created an accompaniment similar to a lullaby.
As so often, the ablution facilities were limited. There were only two toilets and two basins for our large bedroom as well as for all male pilgrims sleeping in the mixed-sex and even larger dormitory next door. Consequently I performed my ablutions early the next morning, and went back to bed for a further snooze. I then awoke with a rather unpleasant surprise. My bed had obviously not been monastically clean: I had bites on my legs, arms, face, neck and back – the wish “Good night, good night, don’t let the bedbugs bite” did not help.
I washed my bed linen, which is a 4.5 m long and 1.2 m wide sheet with a cushion tunnel sewn in at one end. I left it to drip until I had to leave the albergue and as businesses were closed on Sundays, I had no access to a pharmacy in Leon and the villages were too small during the next few days. If the bites persisted, I would have to disinfect all my clothes and bedding and wash everything in hot water – a challenging task on the Camino!
To explain the structure of my unusual bed linen: on arrival, I spread the bed linen over the mattress, tucking in the sides as best possible. This takes up two and a bit meters of the cloth, leaving the remaining part to be folded back to the pillow and returned over a blanket (if used). My reason for this elaborate system is that I feel claustrophobic in a sleeping bag and have the habit to regulate my body temperature by exposing bare legs and feet through the open sides of the envelope. I am generally feeling rather too warm and with this arrangement I have some control over heat build-up.
However, when handling a bug-invaded cloth of this size, especially when still wet, it becomes a challenge and adds weight to the backpack.