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Pilgrims to Santiago battle "lice" hazard


Staff member
Link to article:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international ... 71,00.html

The article itself:

Pilgrims to Santiago battle lice hazard

Giles Tremlett in Madrid
Tuesday October 10, 2006
The Guardian

It has survived storms, famines and droughts over the past 12 centuries, but now the Road to Santiago, one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in Europe, is buckling under the weight of a new threat - the common louse.

Convents and hostels along the route to the north-western Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela are closing their doors as the tiny beasts bury themselves deep inside mattresses, sheets and pillows. Carried by the 100,000 sweating and not always well-washed pilgrims who travel to the shrine of St James in the city's cathedral every year, the lice have found a perfect environment in which to live and reproduce.

Article continues
"They say that many pilgrims are turning up with lice and that some are falling ill because they can cause very high temperatures," a spokeswoman at the Federation of Friends of the Road to Santiago told Spain's ABC newspaper.

The tiny creatures inhabit the seams of sleeping bags, rucksacks and clothes, and survive the journey from one warm, comfortable guesthouse to the next. Pilgrims complain that some hostels along the route will now only give a bed to those who can prove their clothes are louse-free.

The Convent of the Benedictine Mothers in León, northern Spain, is one of the latest to close its doors while it fumigates the premises. "But that is no use unless everyone does it," said Fernando Imaz, of the friends' federation.

Lice have reintroduced an element of genuine mortification into a once arduous pilgrimage that has increasingly become cosseted by modern luxuries. Whereas pilgrims once carried little more than a staff, a cloak and a gourd, today's pilgrims are equipped with navigation systems and water-resistant jackets.

To gain admittance to the hostels along the road to Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims must present a credential to prove that they are hiking or biking the road. Each day, as pilgrims pass through towns, they receive one, sometimes two, stamps in the credential. At the end of the journey in Santiago, pilgrims present the stamped credential to confirm that they have hiked at least the last 100km (62miles), or cycled the last 200km of the road), and receive a Compostela, proof of having made the pilgrimage.


Staff member
The article above has now been updated with the following text:

The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Wednesday October 11 2006

In the article below we identified the wrong culprit. The creatures concerned are bedbugs (clinches in Spanish, family Cimicidae) - not lice (piojos in Spanish, family Pediculidae).

See link above for the update and the full article.



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