the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 500 miles.
Post 35; July 6, 2016, Wednesday.
Day 22: Villaviciosa to Pola de Siero. Switch day to the Camino Primitivo from the Camino del Norte. Technically, STAGE 1 of The Camino Primitivo as in the Perazzoli/Whitson guide book.
Thinking, Fast and Slow.
I wake up in Villaviciosa in my little room at the Carlos I Hotel (really nice; pilgrim price, 25 Euro). Definitely had rare but good sleep, which on the Camino is so critical to get, but so hard at times. I had every intention of leaving at a decent hour with Carlos, Leo and Willi, and others, but I got into a great discussion with another pilgrim, Marie from Sweden, and we stayed in the breakfast room of the Carlos I Hotel for two and a half more hours. Well, what can I say, we covered everything: why she’s on the Camino (maybe one of the few that didn’t care if anyone knows), what we are going to do with the entire, complete, rest of our lives, where to live, why to live there, and then books, authors, and politics . . . and, a little about the Camino. Oh, yes, we’re on the Camino. Camino de Life. And I really needed some Camino coffee.
Marie and I really hashed out two books in particular, Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, and Nudge, by Thaler and Sunstein, then that got us into, for some reason, two of my favorites, The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, and Any Human Heart, by William Boyd. Thinking, Fast and Slow, can hog the whole conversation, and I want to go back and read the book again. Remember, System 1 of thinking is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Basically, Kahneman eventually got the Nobel Prize in Economics, by really explaining the mind and the two systems that drive the way we think. The bottom line is that Kahneman does the best job of explaining why all the intense thinking I do as a lawyer—takes up so much energy, energy that is therefore not available for anything else. System 2 thinking is expensive, it sucks up a lot of energy.
So, even that discussion ends up being about what and where we want to spend our energy on . . . in the future. Especially, the “expensive” energy. But, then, like life, the Camino splits. Marie heads north, to stay on the Camino del Norte, and I head southwest to The Camino Primitivo, and we hope to meet up in Arzua and Santiago . . . in about 14 days, give or take.
. . .
The next stop in this stage is San Salvador de Valdediós, and the small Oratory of San Salvador (dating back to 893), and the Cisterian Monastery, and the Basilica of Santa María. A worthy stop where I take a tour and learn that, basically, the monks that had been there forever, left about 3 weeks ago. Gone. No monks. Really? Why? Where’d they go? Geesh, is nothing permanent anymore? And the place is huge, and supposedly the left over monks numbered: four. That’s it, and I guess they had had enough of the lonely life of a monk. So, yes, there’s all this great history of these historic buildings, but I’m more interested in talking to the newcomers: the Carmelite nuns. The nuns have taken over, and they’ve been there about . . . hmmm, two weeks. And you can see all of them scurrying about cleaning mostly. Cleaning cleaning cleaning, and airing out anything and everything. And, they’ve already started a little albergue in the monastery, set up tours (I took one), and two girls that I keep seeing on the path have . . . checked in to the albergue. Let’s see, and their names are, I forget, but they both promise to email me, take my information and swear we will all meet up in . . . Santiago. There’s a theme going here. I have been calling these girls, when I see them, “the girls of the albergues less traveled.” They seem to like the title I gave them. Indeed, they are always staying in the albergues that everyone else seems to want to pass up, go around, avoid. Hmmm. They like the “albergues less traveled.” So they give me a tour of the nuns new Monastery albergue (that was not on the nuns tour), and we all agree on roughly the following: they may be the first, or very very close to the first two people/pilgrims that have ever stayed there; the place is stark—but clean; the place smells, like its been closed up for a very long time— but ALL the windows are open wide because everyone knows the place smells with that dank abandoned smell; the place is—spacious, there are lots of places to roam; there’s a “kitchen” if you’re flexible with the definition; and, you are standing, walking, roaming, sleeping, in . . . history, if that’s what you want.
And so I do it again. The two girls and I walk to the bar/café/abandoned building across the street from the monastery/albergue, and see that it is locked, but, a farmer drives up on a tractor, and is so excited to see us, that he parks, hops off, opens the bar, and suddenly dons this waiter-cook theme, and proceeds to open the bar, and serve us. But, the place is a dump, set in a very old building, that would be quite interesting and nice if it wasn’t so abandoned and dirty, stinky, and looking unwanted. And so, the two girls are teachers born in the Madrid area, one teaches art, and one teaches math, and they both speak English, thank You God!, and we proceed to talk for at least two hours and learn about all the monastery gossip, the abandoned bar, the two teachers, life life life, and, the complete randomness and hopelessness of really trying to somehow understand much of it, maybe just a little, and now, . . . with such a great bunch of human stories going on, I’m supposed to just, trek on.
At that point I really didn’t have much more desire to go on to Pola de Siero, I mean, I know I’m going to worry about the nuns, the bar keeper/slash new proprietor farmer guy, the bar kitty (looking abandoned), and all the current drama going on at the little “Oratory of San Salvador.”
But, I eventually make it to the so-so-so-so “okay,” but boring Pola de Siero Albergue de Peregrinos, where the albergue keeper checking me in is smoking cigarettes like he’s really hoping to die today, lets just get this over with, . . . and I then run into all my friends, all of them, and I proceed to just park myself in the bar next to it, sip coffee, talk some more, go to sleep in a bunk bed, not sleep too well, hear snoring through my ear plugs, get up a few times, wake up early, am very grateful to connect again with whomever, . . . and begin to trek to,
the real start to the Camino Primitivo.
. . .