Do you want me to post the random things I have written during my time here? (most are simply my thoughts and reflections on Spain, life, love, and not so much the story of my time here)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ribadesella (Part 1) After much ado

I know, I know.... and I apologize to all it took so long. Part Two will be up tomorrow. I am going to try to put one up every day this week, Wednesday might not happen though since I am going to Bilbao. I also have a couple things I have written here that are less stories and more thoughts on my trip. If you guys want I can post those too, and since they are already written it would make sure that there would be posts more often. As always let me know what you think, I will be more apt to write more if I see people are reading it. I need to get some sleep. Much love.

Quick note... I have been trying to write this particular post for too long and now I need to push past it. Three weekends ago (including this one ) a few friends and I went to Ribadesella. Ribadesella is a small town in the region Asturias which is immediately west of Santander. Ribadesella is famous for the expansive cave system, Tito Bustillo, located there that houses some of the oldest cave drawings known to man-kind. Trevor had read about Ribadesella in a traveling guide and really wanted to see the caves. I was all for it: Tito Bustillo sounded interesting enough, the hostel and bus weren't too expensive, and Ribadesella is right on the ocean. It should have been a perfect weekend, it wasn't. The word Ribadesella has become kind of an inside joke to those of us who went there. I think that's why I have been stuck on this blog for so long. Inside jokes usually lose something in translation to the larger world, but (as promised) I plan on letting all of you in on all of my endeavors. So forgive me for a second as I lay this all out plainly for you, stripped of any flourish of pen or keyboard, and let you decide whether you find it funny or not. I promise I won't be offended if you don't. Phil, Elizabeth, Antonio, Katharine, Chelsea, Trevor, and I find it funny enough for everybody.

If I remember correctly, and it's probably safe to assume that I don't, it wasn't raining when we got on the bus to Ribadesella. On the other hand, when we got to Ribadesella, it was raining... hard. That was okay though, because we only a had a short walk to our awesome youth hostel on the beach. So we walked, in the rain, across the river to the beach only to discover that Ribadesella is the only place in the world with a brown ocean. Who knew? I can only explain this well to the people from or people who are familiar with Owosso. The entire ocean was the color of the Shiawassee River immediately following a torrential downpour. Disgusting... While walking along the beach (also kind of dirty) we managed to walk way past our hostel. Once we found a map, it was fairly evident that we had, and we turned around and arrived 20 minutes later soaking wet at our youth hostel.

I have heard several views on aging. There is a group of people that believe age is only a number and that youth is more a state of mind than a state of body. Whoever named our hostel a "youth" hostel, must have belonged to that group. The entire hostel was full of "youthful" 60, 70, and 80 somethings. My friends and I were easily the youngest seven people in the place. At first we thought it was funny. Then at night Trevor and I were trying to watch Robocop in Spanish when suddenly, a swarming mob of elderly Spaniards burst frantically through the lounge doors behind us. We tried to ignore the incomprehensible babble and screams. We tried to outlast them. It didn't work, the elderly partied too hard for the youthful. I ended up going to bed early and tried to sleep. This didn't work either. The distant thunder of los viejos playing cards floated up from the ground floor sending me tossing and turning on my mattress much as the tempestuous ocean did with the small fishing boats harbored in the bay. Throughout the night the wind and waves grew ever stronger, battering the hulls of the boats with driftwood and pieces of debris while the constant explosions of conversation battered my mental aptitude and my temper.

I didn't sleep,

and in the morning

I didn't eat.

The old people had finished all the breakfast.

Luckily there was more in Ribadesella than our hostel. In the morning we walked back across the river (which we would later realize seperated the enjoyable, interesting side and the insert synonym of boring here side of Ribadesella) and headed to the caves. It was still raining. If I forget to remind you at any point in this blog that it was raining you could be assured that it still was. It had reached the point where I was heartened by the rain, I hadn't been in a lot of caves but I did know they usually had a ceiling, and I commended our choice of activity for the weather. After a short jaunt in the rain we made it to Tito Bustillo.

It's hard for me to describe Tito Bustillo. Physically and geographically it is an amazing place to visit. Like I said, I had never been to a cave system before but I imagine most are awe inspiring, Tito Bustillo definitely was. As we walked deeper and deeper into the mountain we encountered cavern after cavern that my house easily could have fit in, stalagmites and stalactites and whatever they are called when they meet in the middle, and even an underground river.

****I wish I could post pictures of all of this but photography is not allowed in the caves. Google it. If you're lucky I will remember to find and post a link when I actually get internet access. ****

I would be amazed to find, on some random slate of Owosso sidewalk, a chalk drawing I had done in my youth over a decade ago. Admittedly the artwork itself would probably not have been that life changing, although my Grandma Wanda and Grandpa John do have a pretty impressive piece of finger-painting I did hanging in one of their guest bedrooms, but the sheer fact that it lasted the test of times would have been enough. Even more it would have given me a literal glimpse of the simpler times of my youth when Paul and I tore up the local streets. I cannot imagine what I would have drawn. I cannot imagine trying to figure out why I had drawn it. I hope it would have been something grand, evidence of a mind already capable of deeper thought and a heart already possessing greater love. I hope that in each graceful curving line you could have found an aching desire to understand the human condition and an even more powerful urge to express my own feeling of helplessness at being young in an apathetic world. I hope people would have been brought to their knees weeping as the waves of emotion and comprehension washed over them. I hope it would have been something more than words, more than me. It probably would have been a soccer ball and stick figures. It probably would have been insignificant, but it would have existed. After over a decade it would have existed.

In Tito Bustillo there are drawings created by the scraping of rocks on the cool, hard cave wall. Most of them are animals: mainly deer and horses and a couple of them are now abstract collections of symbols. The art itself was not that impressive, but it exists. After an unfathomable passage of time and against all odds these cave drawings have lasted. I know throughout our lifetimes we are all bound to the questions, "Why am I here?" and "What is the point?" These cave drawings, done by a "primitive" human countless lifetimes ago exist. Something that was originally done probably more out of a practical purpose of planning an attack than a pensive one is still serving to challenge and captivate minds today. This gives me hope and a sense of purpose. I have always been a firm believer in the idea of a legacy, that what we do here, the people we affect, the artifacts that we leave on this earth is what matters most. We only have one lifetime to build our legacy, but (as the cave drawings can attest to) that legacy can last forever. It's both a beautiful and a horrifying thought. It's beautiful because it gives us purpose and horrifying because it places an importance on every single action. Imagine people looking back on a single piece of your life tens of thousands of years from now: a letter, a picture, a song, a drawing... What would they think? What purpose would it serve? It makes me want to press every key with intent, strum every chord with care, and express only the most beautiful, the saddest, or the most powerful of emotions. I want to leave a legacy that matters.


  1. Keep having fun in Spain but come home soon. I need my best friend back!

  2. MIKE!!
    I love your blog. i love your thoughts on everything that you have experienced. i cant wait to hear about the running of the bulls. i saw pictures. i hope that you had fun the night spain one the CUP!!!! im sooo stoked to hear all about that!! im sure it was one hell of a party. i miss you bunches and i cant wait to see you when you get home!!!!

    Missing you

  3. I could seriously read your blogs allll day, I absolutely love them! I can't wait to read more, and actually hear them in person when you get home! Have fun and be safe :)

  4. great post mike.

    I check it every day when I can, good to hear that you are alive.

    Imagine that things are wild over there since the World Cup win....although I'm sure that you didn't realize they won and thought everybody was cheering for Contador in the Tour de France...........

    BTW, what is that on the top of the mountain you appear to be looking at?

    In New York for the FAC meet. Louann says HI!