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LIVE from the Camino —Nájera

Past OR future Camino
July 2021 (SJPP to Burgos)
I am in Najera today, having started in SJPdP last Monday. I met my traveling companion at Orisson. It’s been lovely to do the journey with someone else. We’ve met pilgrims from the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and just a few from the US where I’m from (Maine).

We’ve seen groups of Pilgrims and a few going solo—perhaps a total of 40 with 10 new faces here in Nájera.

The route has been well resourced—no problems getting beds by reserving one day in advance. Bars are open, backpack forwarding services are working.

I tripped on a curb and fell in Nájera today and thought I’d share some info about accessing healthcare. The police were on the spot in seconds and helped me to my feet. They were kind and encouraged me to walk a bit to the medical center. At the door a doctor told me that to get care I needed to pay them 100 euro and if they didn’t spend it all treating me they’d give a refund. They don’t take cash or credit cards and said I’d need to go to a bank and get a check from them and bring it to the hospital. This seemed like a lot of work given that I wasn’t too beat up. I thanked them and went in my way. I wonder what the process would have been if I’d been unconscious? Adventures abound here.

Buen Camino.
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Awunderli,
Thank you for your update.
I am sorry to learn of your tumble.
Do take care when you leave Najera for the path is long and hot going west. Stock up on water for there are few places with supplies along the way; after Azofra there is a barren stretch of close to 10km.
Carpe diem and Buen camino.
 
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kay lee

Member
Past OR future Camino
St Jean to Santiago (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019)
Via Francigena (2018); Via Podiensis (4-6, 2020)
Glad you're okay. That's scary.
The clinic experience you had sounds unusual.
I took one pilgrim who needed treatment for her knees and feet to a country clinic.
After a whole hour of very nice care, when the doctor realized that the pilgrim didn't have the Spanish medical id (of course not), she waived off the fees. She also volunteered to drive the pilgrim to a larger clinic in the city, which we declined. I've heard similar good stories from others. Occasionally, you hear of someone paying what seemed excessive but in cash.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I had a similar experience in Spain some years ago, when going to a clinic for treatment. I was given a paper in legal Spanish that I was to submit to a particular bank to open an account there, then I could come back later in the day for treatment. I had some medication with me which I thought would treat my problem, so I ended up reluctantly, but successfully, self-medicating. It is a challenge to be willing, and able, to pay for treatment when needed, only to discover that the system is set up to make it extremely challenging to do so. There could be unfortunate results. However, I am confident (hopeful?) that serious injuries would be treated at once and payment deferred until later.
 

VeronicaF1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Walked from Pamplona to Los Arcos, Planning to continue from Los Arcos
I am in Najera today, having started in SJPdP last Monday. I met my traveling companion at Orisson. It’s been lovely to do the journey with someone else. We’ve met pilgrims from the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and just a few from the US where I’m from (Maine).

We’ve seen groups of Pilgrims and a few going solo—perhaps a total of 40 with 10 new faces here in Nájera.

The route has been well resourced—no problems getting beds by reserving one day in advance. Bars are open, backpack forwarding services are working.

I tripped on a curb and fell in Nájera today and thought I’d share some info about accessing healthcare. The police were on the spot in seconds and helped me to my feet. They were kind and encouraged me to walk a bit to the medical center. At the door a doctor told me that to get care I needed to pay them 100 euro and if they didn’t spend it all treating me they’d give a refund. They don’t take cash or credit cards and said I’d need to go to a bank and get a check from them and bring it to the hospital. This seemed like a lot of work given that I wasn’t too beat up. I thanked them and went in my way. I wonder what the process would have been if I’d been unconscious? Adventures abound here.

Buen Camino.
When I went to the medical centre at Astorga (April 2019) there was no charge (probably because I said I had a European Health Insurance Card) I was billed for the ambulance to Leon but my EHIC covered that too.
The EHIC allowed UK citizens to the same free treatment a Spanish citizen. Apparently it is being replaced with an equivalent.
 
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Darleen Taylor

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
In 2016, we were in Sahagún when my husband got something in his eye. There had been quite a windstorm, and we assumed it was a piece of sand. We tried flushing ourselves, but could not get it out. We had passed an emergency clinic, and dropped in. The staff there were incredible. They did manage to get the dirt out of his eye, but it did take some time. When it came time to pay (and we presented our insurance information, upon finding out that we were pilgrims, they sent us on our way, and refused payment. The camino indeed does provide!!
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
When I was a hospitalera in the municipal albergue in Nájera I got an eye infection and went to the same Centro de Salud. I was very impressed with the level of care and time the doctor took. He made sure that I came back within a week to check on me but...I have a European Health Card so no payment was required. IMHO the reason you needed to pay was because you are not a member of the EU. Americans usually do need to pay upfront unless of course they decide to wave the fee which I wouldn't expect anyone to do.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
The issue being discussed here is not whether American or Canadian pilgrims are unwilling to pay upfront, it is that we have been sent away to a bank to do some incomprehensible procedure before the treatment. This is a type of refusal of treatment, regardless of the pilgrim having already offered to pay upfront. It certainly discouraged both myself and @awunderli from getting treatment, and it would discourage me in future in the same situation, regardless of the money or credit cards that I was carrying and the amount of medical insurance which I had. Thanks to this experience, I no longer rely on Spanish clinics for treatment for minor ailments or injury. Instead, I carry antibiotics, for example, and will take them if I think I need them. My current supply of antibiotics was purchase in Mexico without a prescription and will be consumed without medical advice, thanks to this experience. Not casually, but as I think necessary.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
it is that we have been sent away to a bank to do some incomprehensible procedure before the treatment
I sympathise. The procedure is called payment by bank transfer. My guess is that residents of Spain, if they didn't have a tarjeta sanitaria anyway, would pay for the treatment after they receive a bill from the clinic or doctor. For non-residents from abroad, this constitutes an additional hurdle for the clinic's administration so they prefer payment upfront. And since they are not equipped to accept cash or credit card, you have to go to the bank, hand over money to them in the form of cash, and the bank will then execute the bank transfer on your behalf.

Other clinics or doctors, my guess again, prefer to not get paid at all for small amounts instead of going through the whole rigmarole. It is not so much the Camino who provides as the Administration who prohibits.

Others again have more faith and send a bill to the former pilgrim some time in the future when she or he is abroad somewhere far away.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
In my experience, one reason that you don’t get charged in some of the small towns where doctors visit on a schedule is because the office has no no mechanism for charging anyone. I’ve been to a couple of them (one was a room about 8 x 10 feet in a falling down house) and was always brushed away when I asked about payment. I thought at first that it was because they were being nice (which they were), but really it’s probably just because there is no money that ever gets paid in these offices. If you are in a big town or city with a regular clinic or a hospital, it’s different.

Health care is provided on a regional basis, so it’s also possible that different comunidades autónomas have different procedures and policies. And private clinics of course do their own thing completely.

But back to you @awunderli — I am glad you are ok and have carried on. Hoping your injury is short-lived.
 
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Felipe

Veteran Member
I had an odontological problem (a broken teeth) and went to a private specialized clinic in León, apparently belonging to chain. Looking now at the map, I believe it was a Dentomedic, but I am not sure.
The doctor told me that the problem was not grave, but could not be treated on the go, So he applied some sealing substance to avoid contamination and that was all; I could finish my walk without inconveniences (besides having a handsome Therry-Thomas look). The doctor refused a payment, saying it was a minor thing.
I wonder if there are in Spain other private clinics more comercially oriented, where you can receive medical attention for minor (but annoying) problems, and pay cash or with a credit card without so many bureaucratic hurdles. I would not object to that...
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
To change the subject slightly, I also, like @awunderli , tripped on a curb in Spain, in Finesterre, at the end of my first camino. Fortunately, I was not hurt and did not require medical care. But I only then became fully aware that Spanish curbs are not like the curbs on Canadian and American streets. They are irregular in height, sometimes composed of decorative stone, often in poor repair, and not predictable for the safety of pilgrims. Only by paying attention to each curb climbed can a new pilgrim stay safe from this cause of injury.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
The issue being discussed here is not whether American or Canadian pilgrims are unwilling to pay upfront, it is that we have been sent away to a bank to do some incomprehensible procedure before the treatment. This is a type of refusal of treatment, regardless of the pilgrim having already offered to pay upfront. It certainly discouraged both myself and @awunderli from getting treatment, and it would discourage me in future in the same situation, regardless of the money or credit cards that I was carrying and the amount of medical insurance which I had. Thanks to this experience, I no longer rely on Spanish clinics for treatment for minor ailments or injury. Instead, I carry antibiotics, for example, and will take them if I think I need them. My current supply of antibiotics was purchase in Mexico without a prescription and will be consumed without medical advice, thanks to this experience. Not casually, but as I think necessary.
Unfortunate that it discouraged you (and others) from getting treatment. This cumbersome Spanish payment system, although especially unpleasant if one is sick or injured, is not uncommon. I remember being at the Foreign office in Pamplona to apply for my NIE or foreign resident card and having to pay for the administrative costs in the same manner. I thought how inefficient can you be.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
My wife occasionally gets a nasal infection, so she always brings a prescription to treat in case this flares up. I spent my career with a Fortune 500 pharma company. One of my early career assignments was in pharma sales. Our company developed several successful oral antibiotics that were used to treat upper and lower respiratory infections, skin and soft tissue infections, etc. So each camino, I have my GP write a script for generic Keflex. During our second camino, I got a nasty cough so self medicated with Keflex. During our third camino, I developed severe blisters on both large toes. I though I would lose both nails within days and possibly might develop infections. Keflex to the rescue! Will bring along next camino. Bob
 
Past OR future Camino
July 2021 (SJPP to Burgos)
Awunderli,
Thank you for your update.
I am sorry to learn of your tumble.
Do take care when you leave Najera for the path is long and hot going west. Stock up on water for there are few places with supplies along the way; after Azofra there is a barren stretch of close to 10km.
Carpe diem and Buen camino.
Thanks so much for this heads up on leaving Nájera. Very much appreciated.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2021
I am in Najera today, having started in SJPdP last Monday. I met my traveling companion at Orisson. It’s been lovely to do the journey with someone else. We’ve met pilgrims from the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and just a few from the US where I’m from (Maine).

We’ve seen groups of Pilgrims and a few going solo—perhaps a total of 40 with 10 new faces here in Nájera.

The route has been well resourced—no problems getting beds by reserving one day in advance. Bars are open, backpack forwarding services are working.

I tripped on a curb and fell in Nájera today and thought I’d share some info about accessing healthcare. The police were on the spot in seconds and helped me to my feet. They were kind and encouraged me to walk a bit to the medical center. At the door a doctor told me that to get care I needed to pay them 100 euro and if they didn’t spend it all treating me they’d give a refund. They don’t take cash or credit cards and said I’d need to go to a bank and get a check from them and bring it to the hospital. This seemed like a lot of work given that I wasn’t too beat up. I thanked them and went in my way. I wonder what the process would have been if I’d been unconscious? Adventures abound here.

Buen Camino.
Wow! Sorry to hear of your problem. I was unaware of medical process. My insurance is suppose to cover international travel but now I am concerned. Appreciate your information. Buen Camino
 

Tony Bobcat

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
May 2017
I am in Najera today, having started in SJPdP last Monday. I met my traveling companion at Orisson. It’s been lovely to do the journey with someone else. We’ve met pilgrims from the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and just a few from the US where I’m from (Maine).

We’ve seen groups of Pilgrims and a few going solo—perhaps a total of 40 with 10 new faces here in Nájera.

The route has been well resourced—no problems getting beds by reserving one day in advance. Bars are open, backpack forwarding services are working.

I tripped on a curb and fell in Nájera today and thought I’d share some info about accessing healthcare. The police were on the spot in seconds and helped me to my feet. They were kind and encouraged me to walk a bit to the medical center. At the door a doctor told me that to get care I needed to pay them 100 euro and if they didn’t spend it all treating me they’d give a refund. They don’t take cash or credit cards and said I’d need to go to a bank and get a check from them and bring it to the hospital. This seemed like a lot of work given that I wasn’t too beat up. I thanked them and went in my way. I wonder what the process would have been if I’d been unconscious? Adventures abound here.

Buen Camino.
Hello awunderli, sorry to hear about your fall. My wife was sick a few years ago is Santiago, we went to their public hospital were she had fantastic service with no charge at all. Thanks for the update, unfortunately it will be a while until we are aloud to travel overseas. Buen Camino.
 
I am in Najera today, having started in SJPdP last Monday. I met my traveling companion at Orisson. It’s been lovely to do the journey with someone else. We’ve met pilgrims from the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and just a few from the US where I’m from (Maine).

We’ve seen groups of Pilgrims and a few going solo—perhaps a total of 40 with 10 new faces here in Nájera.

The route has been well resourced—no problems getting beds by reserving one day in advance. Bars are open, backpack forwarding services are working.

I tripped on a curb and fell in Nájera today and thought I’d share some info about accessing healthcare. The police were on the spot in seconds and helped me to my feet. They were kind and encouraged me to walk a bit to the medical center. At the door a doctor told me that to get care I needed to pay them 100 euro and if they didn’t spend it all treating me they’d give a refund. They don’t take cash or credit cards and said I’d need to go to a bank and get a check from them and bring it to the hospital. This seemed like a lot of work given that I wasn’t too beat up. I thanked them and went in my way. I wonder what the process would have been if I’d been unconscious? Adventures abound here.

Buen Camino.
Hi, sorry to hear about your fall but glad you are well. I had such terrible foot problems on the Camino a few years ago near Sahagun, bleeding and infected toes especially the small toe on my left foot, that I went to the clinic there and saw the doctor. He was friendly and professional and as I had travel insurance from South Africa I only had to pay for the medication which I got on his prescription from the pharmacy. I had to pay for the meds, roughly E15, and was all fixed up by the time I reached Santiago. Great clinic facilities and staff.
 

MikeyC

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
CF - 2019
It's worth checking whether the clinic is private or public before receiving treatment.

UK /EU citizens should use their GHIC/EHIC to access public health services. You may still have to pay some costs but no more than a Spanish user would.

Private services are of course all chargeable so it is best, if possible, to understand how your travel insurance works before you travel.

Note for GHIC holders that it is not an alternative to travel insurance.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
When I was a hospitalera in the municipal albergue in Nájera I got an eye infection and went to the same Centro de Salud. I was very impressed with the level of care and time the doctor took. He made sure that I came back within a week to check on me but...I have a European Health Card so no payment was required. IMHO the reason you needed to pay was because you are not a member of the EU. Americans usually do need to pay upfront unless of course they decide to wave the fee which I wouldn't expect anyone to do.
When we had to obtain care--in Bilbao in 2017--we explained that our insurance was a reimbursement plan. The receptionist took down our particulars and a couple of months later the factura arrived in the email address I had given them. I promptly wired them their funds. (Cost more to pay the wire fee and conversion than to pay the bill.) It's not universally true that they're set up to require a local check up front. (We were willing to pay cash but they weren't set up for that.) They are able to send out the bill in a while.

We had trip insurance which pays reimbursement of medical and trip interruption and everything went as we expected except for the "we'll bill you later" part.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
It's worth checking whether the clinic is private or public before receiving treatment.

UK /EU citizens should use their GHIC/EHIC to access public health services. You may still have to pay some costs but no more than a Spanish user would.

Private services are of course all chargeable so it is best, if possible, to understand how your travel insurance works before you travel.

Note for GHIC holders that it is not an alternative to travel insurance.

Good that you point this out for Europeans. When I was a hospitalera in Zamora a German pilgrim staying with us was ill. As she didn't speak any Spanish I offered to accompany her to the nearest Centro de Salud (Health Center). When we got there we were told that that the pilgrim in question had to go to a private clinic as her German insurance was private. This is not something you was to encounter when you are not well. Luckily they told us where to go and the Spanish doctor who assisted her spoke perfect English!
I subsequently learned that the Spanish can choose to pay more and get a private insurance in addition to their national public health service.
 

emmanuel

Member
Past OR future Camino
2011_2014_2016_2017_2018_2019_2021
I sympathise. The procedure is called payment by bank transfer. My guess is that residents of Spain, if they didn't have a tarjeta sanitaria anyway, would pay for the treatment after they receive a bill from the clinic or doctor. For non-residents from abroad, this constitutes an additional hurdle for the clinic's administration so they prefer payment upfront. And since they are not equipped to accept cash or credit card, you have to go to the bank, hand over money to them in the form of cash, and the bank will then execute the bank transfer on your behalf.

Other clinics or doctors, my guess again, prefer to not get paid at all for small amounts instead of going through the whole rigmarole. It is not so much the Camino who provides as the Administration who prohibits.

Others again have more faith and send a bill to the former pilgrim some time in the future when she or he is abroad somewhere far away.
A few years ago I slipped and fell just outside the Oviedo Cathedral. In great pain I took a taxi to the nearest hospital. I had an X-Ray taken to determine the damage, and it turned out I broke a bone in my upper arm and needed an operation. For the hospital to be able to operate on me I needed an address in town, but I live in Mexico. So they gave me horse-size doses of pain-killers and immobilized my arm so I could fly home to get treatment. It is a harrowing experience to take cars, trains and airplanes across the world with a broken bone, leaving my backpack behind (impossible to carry). Upon landing I was taken to hospital and operated right away. In the Oviedo hospital no payment was asked for, but a few months later I got a bill for consultation and an X-Ray from the hospital. About 100 euros, which I duly paid by wire transfer. I will never forget the lesson: crocs are slippery on old stone pavement when wet! (BTW, the albergue in Oviedo was very helpful and later shipped my bag to a friend in Madrid.)
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I developed a blister under my big toenail just before Pamplona. Tried without luck to find benzoin in pharmacies (to self treat). One pharmacist was aghast when I explained what I wanted and why and directed me to an afternoon clinic at the medical center. They wouldn’t take credit card or my travel medical insurance but signed me in (probably because they figured the medics would be seeing me anyway—I think this sometimes influences their decision, how much $ it will cost to treat you). Two paramedics looked at my foot as I explained in bad Spanish I was a military physician, and how this sort of problem was fixed on our road marches. They shook their head and brought in a nurse—she spoke broken English while I spoke broken Spanish, thumbing through my dictionary and pantomiming injecting benzoin under the nail. debajo de la uña del pie…with expectant pilgrim smile. I believe the nurse told the medics I was crazy or American medicine was bad. I didn’t get the treatment I wanted but they wished me a Buen Camino, told me no charge and showed me the door.
 

emmanuel

Member
Past OR future Camino
2011_2014_2016_2017_2018_2019_2021
Same thing happened to me not far from Najera in June. In Spain it is fairly easy to buy Betadine, which is an iodine-based antiseptic, and very effective. I just put a few drops every night on top of the falling nail and the liquid by itself went under it. No injection needed. Also it was important to cover it to avoid chafing inside the boot. In time the nail fell off and a new one is growing in its place.
 
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Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Same thing happened to me not far from Najera in June. In Spain it is fairly easy to buy Betadine, which is an iodine-based antiseptic, and very effective. I just put a few drops every night on top of the falling nail and the liquid by itself went under it. No injection needed. Also it was important to cover it to avoid chafing inside the boot. In time the nail fell off and a new one is growing in its place.
The benzoin in theory glues down the blister so it doesn’t keep reforming so doesn’t lift the nail off. The MD in me thinks it’s voodoo, but an Army medic did it to me my first night of Nijmegen March (wearing steel toed boots 🙄) and I didn’t feel it the next three days. Maybe it’s just the macho of getting that injected in a blister. Maybe Army medics are sadistic. This particular cause was inability to keep feet dry: Napoleon in a snow storm then two days of freezing rain mixed with snow. Note to self: always take more socks.

I found the Spanish version of NuSkin after several more pharmacies after leaving the medical center and used that and athletic tape. Not quite as good but it worked. My blog entry for the hospital visit was “I understand you, crazy pilgrim, I just don’t agree with you”🙂
 

linkster

¡Nunca dejes de creer!
Past OR future Camino
2022
May 2017, I tripped and broke my right wrist within sight of Portomarin. I took a taxi to the hospital in Lugo. I received X-rays, and they set my wrist. I they took a copy of my passport when I checked into the ER. I never received a bill. A week later in SDC, I went to the hospital because the cast was very tight. I received x-rays, and had an interpreter escort me around. I was presented a bill for ~$500 when I left which I paid for by credit card. I did need an open reduction with a plate when I returned home 3+ weeks later.

October 2017, I had a sinus infection when I got to Ponferrada. I went to the ER early on a Saturday morning. I went into the exam room and explained I needed a script for an antibiotic. The doctor wrote the script. On the way out, the desk wanted me to give them a copy of my passport. I handed my passport to them, but they wanted me to go down the block and return with a photo copy. I just thought I did not understand enough Spanish. The guy walked me out to the parking lot, gave me some complicated directions to a tienda where I could get a copy made, and said IF YOU WANT. I still did not understand, and asked him to repeat it again this time into Google Translate. He did, I reread what he said twice, he just looked at me and smiled (not a wink wink, but just a smile). I left and did not return.

I now have an extended array of meds in my kit including antibiotics. I feel like Jost from The Way.
 

emmanuel

Member
Past OR future Camino
2011_2014_2016_2017_2018_2019_2021
May 2017, I tripped and broke my right wrist within sight of Portomarin. I took a taxi to the hospital in Lugo. I received X-rays, and they set my wrist. I they took a copy of my passport when I checked into the ER. I never received a bill. A week later in SDC, I went to the hospital because the cast was very tight. I received x-rays, and had an interpreter escort me around. I was presented a bill for ~$500 when I left which I paid for by credit card. I did need an open reduction with a plate when I returned home 3+ weeks later.

October 2017, I had a sinus infection when I got to Ponferrada. I went to the ER early on a Saturday morning. I went into the exam room and explained I needed a script for an antibiotic. The doctor wrote the script. On the way out, the desk wanted me to give them a copy of my passport. I handed my passport to them, but they wanted me to go down the block and return with a photo copy. I just thought I did not understand enough Spanish. The guy walked me out to the parking lot, gave me some complicated directions to a tienda where I could get a copy made, and said IF YOU WANT. I still did not understand, and asked him to repeat it again this time into Google Translate. He did, I reread what he said twice, he just looked at me and smiled (not a wink wink, but just a smile). I left and did not return.

I now have an extended array of meds in my kit including antibiotics. I feel like Jost from The Way.
I always carry more meds than necessary, including antibiotics. Cheaper, faster if you know what ails you.
 

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