Some days ago, while staying at Balaguer, I saw that there was a cave with prehistoric paintings nearby, which I wanted to visit. It was the perfect place to make a work stop: the albergue was the former house of writer Teresa Pàmies and it would be an inspiring place to stay. The town was also petite and attractive.
Instead of leaving at my usual 7:00am I bummed around until 10:00am so that I could plead my case at the city hall. Pilgrims are supposed to stay one night at most, and this particular albergue was way too attractive for its price. It would be a tough sell.
While having breakfast at a nearby café, the TV blared news about an upcoming heatwave, and it would hit particularly hard in this region of Catalonia. “Perfect”, I thought, I’ll say I’m concerned about the heatwave and that I wish to remain until it passes.
When the offices opened and I made my case, the lady almost laughed me off. “Oh, they’re always saying the same thing, it’ll get to 36 degrees tops. I’ll tell my superior, but don’t expect anything”. As it was already beginning to get hot, I pleaded with her to at least allow me an extra night because a late start would put me through grueling heat. “The last person who stayed two nights broke her leg” she responded.
The answer came through a phone call, it was brief: “There’s a pilgrim here who wants to stay some additional nights because of the heatwave… no? He’s telling me one night… Yeah yeah, I know. Just to confirm with you, bye”. I half expected it to happen this way, the heat was a threat in the horizon so it was a tough sell.
Today I repeated more or less the same story in Monzón. It’s a building designed for housing athletes, but the city allows pilgrims to stay (if you put through with their bureaucratic hurdles). Its college style dorms with small private rooms and spacious common areas, and a fully equipped kitchen. A luxury by camino standards. Since the heatwave was in full force, reaching 44 degrees today, I decided to try my luck.
This time I got to speak with a higher-up who understood my plight, but his excuse was that, since the city government was changing, there wasn’t a councilman available to take that decision. Staying more than one night was not explicitly prohibited in the rules, but it was implicit.
I didn’t want to press too hard for my case and let him off the hook, reassuring him that I’d just walk very early in the morning to avoid the worst of the heat. He was clearly uncomfortable turning me down given the hysteria about the heatwave in these lands. But, in the end, he did grant me an extra night so today I didn’t walk.
I can persuade people, but need to be in a tight spot to override my tendency to reduce tension through concession. When you see a pattern repeating it means there is inner work to be done. I’ll face the need to stay longer than what is usual up in the future, and I won’t have a heatwave playing to my advantage, so it’s better to begin practicing now.
And synchronicity happened: I saw a Tweet by the great Naval Ravikant recommending Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which is exactly the kind of book I’d never read. And the things you tend to avoid are those which you happen to need the most—precisely because you’ve avoided it your entire life. So I downloaded the ebook and plan to put into practice some concepts along the way.
What was done today? I slept for as long as I could. I meditated a lot. I worked a bit on write.now (a tool for creative writing I’m doing along with René Galindo), and emptied my backpack to send to Madrid whatever wasn’t seeing enough use.
I guess writing down the list would be interesting:
Bialetti Moka Pot: not enough albergues have kitchens, and you must carry coffee. More useful than it sounds, but still not worth carrying.
A camping mat: I thought during August I might find albergues at full capacity and I didn’t want to sleep in the rough. But it’s too bulky. By the time it’s August I’ll be walking along the beach and I can sleep there if needed. Last resort can be a nest of leaves. I enjoy constraints.
Sleeping bag: I’m carrying a large sarong which I use for an incredible range of things: it’s a towel, a sheet, protection from the sun, a table cloth, a curtain on bunk beads and perhaps it still has undiscovered uses. With this heat I’m finding it’s all I need to cover myself up at night.
Business clothes: I was carrying a shirt, pants and a belt from my last meeting at Barcelona. It proved useful on a pair of occasions (getting paperwork done at a city hall, and going to a dinner) and I’m sure I’d find excuses to use them again, but it’s not worth carrying.
Assorted metal stuff: keys, a small knife, bottle opener, utensils for cleaning nails. I already regret sending back the bottle opener, I’ll surely need it up ahead. But it’s not an expensive item if I need to buy it again.
One set of clothes: I was carrying four changes. I’ve walked with just two and I could manage. Three is perhaps ideal.
In total, my backpack weight perhaps 4.5Kg less than yesterday. It’s a big win. I was topping 13Kg, way more than the 10% of your weight that is recommended, and it has manifested in blisters. I’ve never gotten blisters before and the additional weight is sure to blame.
There is no video today because it’s a work log, not a camino log. I’ve decided to do it this way so that I can focus more on work while staying put.