My stay in Hospital de Orbigo provided me with some interesting experiences. There were eight Pilgrims staying there last night , including two Italian guys who were both suffering tendonitis and had holed up there for 4 days in attempts to get better ( at least that’s what they said anyway ). There was also a young Aussie girl who had stayed an extra day as she had bites that she was convinced were caused by bed bugs so had hot washed all her kit. Later on two Pilgrims arrived carrying guitars , Neno and Hugo , the former Italian and the latter Portuguese.
We sat down to a meal of vegetarian pasta , cooked by one of the Italian guys , followed by Miso and Seaweed soup cooked by a Spanish lady. There was a salad to finish off with. I left the soup but gobbled up everything else. After dinner Mincho ( who seemed to be the guru of this albergue ) encouraged us to move to a corner where there were cushions and blankets lying around , overseen by a statue of the Buddha. I started to get worried then. There was some Eastern music playing and Mincho did some meditating for a spell . Then he started playing the bongo drums. At this point I was wishing I was back with the Nuns in Leon. Thankfully Neno and Hugo came to the rescue by pulling out their guitars and starting a sing song. Not to be outdone , Mincho then pulled out his guitar and joined in. Then various other percussion instruments appeared and I found a pair of maracas in my hands. I then proceeded to shake the maracas in all the wrong places and got some funny looks from Mincho. All this carried on until Midnight. We all trooped off to bed and Mincho reminded us there would be a Yoga class before breakfast.
I slept very well , rising at 8.00am to find the Yoga class about to begin. Mincho handed me a mat and a blanket so it seemed I had no choice but to join in. First of all we all lay on our mats will the blankets over us whilst Mincho sat in the lotus position and moved a wooden implement around the rim of a gold coloured metallic bowl. This produced a low pitched , reverberating noise. Then Mincho started to chant “ Om Shanti “. The chanting went on for a long time and I was acutely aware that my stomach was gurgling very loudly . We were told to focus on our breathing when all I wanted to focus on was breakfast. After that we did a lot of stretching exercises that had to co-incide with your breathing. I quickly discovered I’ve no sense of balance as I kept falling over when he asked us to stand on one leg. Mincho could see me struggling and said it was ok if I just sat on my mat in silence whilst the others continued. This proved exceedingly difficult when one of them let out a fart when attempting a particularly difficult position that involved stretching out a leg behind you whilst arching your back and stretching out an arm at the same time. I kept catching the eyes of Neno and Hugo and I could see that they , like me , were finding it all very funny.
After an hour and a half of the Yoga we then ate breakfast and managed to get out on the road at 11.15am. It was overcast and drizzly first thing and I needed my waterproof for the first time in a couple of weeks. I walked with Neno and Hugo until Astorga and they told me they were trying to build a career as musicians , having travelled around Europe this Summer playing in various countries. Right out in the middle of nowhere we came upon a chap named David , from Barcelona , who has been living in a little shack he built up against the wall of a derelict building . He has lived here full time for the last 3 and half years , sleeping on a makeshift couch , and has a little stall from which he supplies food and drink to the passing Pilgrims. He doesn’t charge anything as , once again , it’s a Donativo situation.
We reached Astorga around 4.00pm and I took a look at the Cathedral and the Gaudi palace . My priority however was to get to the chemist. I’d mentioned my tendonitis to Mincho’s wife and she’d said ” listen to your body “. So I listened to my body and went straight to the chemist and bought some drugs. For 7 euros I was able to buy 40 Diofenac 50mg , 60 g of Diclofenac gel and 30 x 5mg Prednisolone , no questions asked. For the first time today I began having some concerns that I might not make it to Santiago as the tendonitis was really giving me problems on part of the walk. I’ve still got 161 miles to go so I’m praying the tablets and gel will help me nurse it along for the 10 or 11 days it will take to complete the journey.