The economy of risk

It didn’t quite work out today. It often doesn’t. But that is the risk. You have a go and hope for the best, wishing that somehow, things will work out awesome. So I guess that it’s a kind of glass-half-full analogy. Sometimes it just pays off. Like the other night, we aimed for Bercianos del Real Camino.

We arrived to a queue forming outside the door of the donativo at Bercianos with impatient pelegrinos (pilgrims like us) hoping for a bed and free meal for the night. Pedro from Germany, a hospitelaro (a volunteer who provides hospitality for the pilgrims on their journey) said to us “don’t worry, we never run out of beds.” True to his word, they pulled out a heap of mattresses and filled up the halls and prayer space to provide a sleeping space for the many pilgrims that were to follow.

A meal was served out on the street with about 40 people enjoying the company of the camino (the way) – conversation flowed easily. A huge pot requiring a paddle to stir the lentils and chorizo was cooked alongside a salad with wine and bread to boot. Most people helped out and in either serving proving true the maxim that “many hands make light work.” The sleep that followed wasn’t as golden as expected. For one, the man snoring next to me sounded more like a bear than human. Despite being a good cook, it deprived me of sleep. The creaking floorboards with the 2-5am rush to the toilet didn’t help the sleeping prospects.

Despite this, the economy of risk paid off. We had hoped and aimed for making this particular hostel. We had hoped that we were able to contribute to this meal with our own skills and help but were pleasantly surprised by the hospitality provided, the warmth of the company and the memories created on a night that proved the hospitality of the camino.

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We finished our bike leg at Leon, cycling 180km over three days. Continuing on foot we were sad to have left the cohort of friends that we had met along the way. From here, it is a week to go to Santiago. The summit of O’Cerbreiro awaits us tomorrow but the philosophy of risk is used often to decide whereabouts we will stay for the night. Do we hope for the communal and donativo? Do we risk the extra kilometres and hope that things will work out? I often joke that my wife often “lands on her feet.” Like a cat. I don’t. I have to plan things and hope against hope that I am able to work things out with my hard working attitude and focused mind. It doesn’t always work.

Instead, the economy of risk teaches us that putting faith and hope in the greater ideal of humanity often pays off. Today, it didn’t quite work out. I miss though the company of the Italians who cooked us an amazing carbonara and the friends that we met at Bercianos.  Today, I wine and dine at the Municipal because the guide book didn’t quite have the correct information and we should have hiked another 5km to the next town. When it does work out however, it’s awesome and restores hope in this concept called humanity.

Buen camino,



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