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Sharing Needles, Hygiene and other Camino Advice!!


New Member
I just completed the Camino France on Sept 30 after starting in St Jean Pied de Port on August 29, 2008. I had exactly the experience I was looking for and am profoundly altered as a result of this, however......
A couple of observations from my experience that I would like to share.
1. the needle and thread technique for treating blisters works well, however I was alarmed at the practices that I saw ( I am a nurse!). One was that pilgrims generously shared their needles with each other and in a few cases, there were people with actual needles and syringes that they used and offered to share to drain the blisters on other people!!. Any idea how dangerous this is you guys? this is how to spread all kinds of things including infection, HIV and hepatitis. No amount of iodine or alcohol will sterilize those sewing needles and just for your info - there is very little re use of such items in hospitals these days. as well remember to use white thread! - less toxic
2. the bathrooms along the way are not well stocked with soap and toilet paper. you can ask the partons for toilet paper as many will go and get it if asked. However, hand washing is the best protection to the spread of anything, so take your own hand sanitizer and tp. I really thought that the GI illness that I saw between Burgos and Leon was related to people being exhausted and run down and then having poor hygiene along the way. a lot of people drank bottled water and then got sick anyway! Lots of those dishes in the communal kitchens are just rinsed under the tap as I observed.
3. Once when we were not sure we had taken the right turn - one of my walking companions said - well we can just look for the tiolet paper and then we will know we are on the right track. there is an alarming and revolting abundance of not only toilet paper, but excrement behind bushes and under bridges along the way. In some places, it looked like a public toilet - only in someone's field. PLEASE - pick up your tp, don't use it if you don't need to and be mindful of what is being left behind as it is really not pretty!!
4. I picked up bites (bed bugs??) twice in the last 2 weeks. I think this was from the blankets not the mattresses as the alberques were really great!/ My advice is to be really careful with your own things - place your back pack on the floor and not the mattress, take a pillow case with you, put your sleeping things into a plastic bag each day, wash your stuff as much as possible - would not hurt to enpty everything into a washing machine once a week - cost is 6 euros for wash and dry usually. This, by the way, fixed my problem and got rid of the uninvited guests.
I absolutely am sold on this way of travel for so many reasons but really saw some hazards along the way and this could become a real problem with the number of people increasing their interest in travelling like this. I wondered to myself what kinds of infection control issues would emerge with the pack of hygenic practices that I saw?
I did entries into a blog along my way and it is caminomaggee.blogspot.com if anyone is interested.
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
thanks for listing the topic maggee like you i feel that the issues raised are very important.
i feel that the lack of public conveniences on the camino can only get worse as the numbers increase, and can no longer be ignored or excused by the spanish not having a tradition of such things.
depending on the source between 150,000 and 300,000 people are expected to walk the camino in 2010, thats a lot of people with a lot of needs.
this year 150.000 young people went to the world youth day in sydney australia were the pope was in atendence, 4.000 tempory toilets were placed on site. to my knowledge no plans are in place for the 2010 camino when the pope is also expected to attend.
me and rosie did enjoy your blog maggee and hope all is well.( what next?)
Be part of the Camino Cleanup team! Help us pick up litter from Ponferrada to Sarria.
Well done. I too completed SDPDP to Santiago on 11th Sept and yes the toilet paper was "the primary crop of choice" what a shame. Also the GI flu was seeking casualties at that time, caught me in terradillos. Thank God for a lady called Rebekah who litteraly becmae the good Samaratin . My momento to the family was a feline called Murphy!!! for some reason best not said the lowest point I suffered was in Mansilla de las Mullas. Then it looked up from there on.
Love the quotations on the blog especially

"Many people and events come into your life
This is because you have drawn them to you
What you choose to do with them
Is entirely up to you!"


I'm going to begin something, I don't know what yet, to avoid it as soon as possible. ¡¡Incredible!!

Buen, and as safe as possible, Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.

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