Tales from the Camino: Dreads

When our Camino group arrived in Estelle, we were beat. The walk from Puente la Reina was hot and enervating, as we paralleled Spanish Route N-111 the whole day. We walked past the bull ring, past the Rio Ega, and past several town plazas. As we entered the center of town our steps were getting more and more plodding. It had been a long day. We arrived at our hotel about 20 minutes later.

Settling into our hotel, the concierge mentioned that there are some massage boutiques back in town. We washed our clothes, took showers and met in the lobby. The owner of one massage parlor agreed to pick us up and drive us back into town. That sounded like a winning combination to us. The owners of the massage parlor had some special treats for those brave enough to take the plunge: kissing fish! My sister, Mary, was the first to stick her feet into the aquamarine water. The hoots and hollering she gasped were from shock and joy, as the tiny fish nibbled on the dead skin on Mary’s feet and lower legs.


The husband of the parlor owner was supposed to give me a lower back and legs massage. It soon became apparent that he was not trained in the art of massage or deep tissue anything. Instead, after a cursory back pat, he rubbed the surface of my skin violently in circles. He kept up the rubbing as he  worked on my legs. His rubs were so constant that the hair on my legs started rolling up in knots. The hair balls were tight and clumped but not particularly painful at first. Only the massage oil kept the knots lubricated and me from yowling in pain.

AKA hair spiders

When I got back to the hotel, though, the massage oil was wearing off. My wife, Tracy, said, “Hey, you got dreadlocks in Estelle!” Not amused, I asked her to cut out the hair balls so that I could be dread-free again.

Yikes, that was the first and only massage I had on our Camino. Next time I will go for the kissing fish instead.