Sadernes // #51
Nothing but a diary entry
The Curious Cat is a journey where I aim to reconnect with my inner-child and explore my curiosity. I pinpoint themes & topics I’ve been interested in recently, ask myself questions about them and then write about them. I hope you find value within this issue and have a fantastic day doing what you love.
I’ve been thinking about what I want The Curious Cat to be.
Since its inception, the core purpose of this newsletter has been to incentivise me to follow my curiosity and learn more. And while that still holds, I want to take it a step further. A book I’m reading called ‘Building a Second Brain’ has further convinced me that content creation is an incredibly rewarding habit.
I’ve yet to pull the trigger and formalise this evolution, but things are going to be changing around here. I’ll let you know when I’ve clarified my thoughts and am happy to share my intentions. But the TLDR is: Lots more content incoming. Varied content.
Content: A journal about a magical weekend I recently enjoyed and now aim to cherish
Location: Parc Volcanica La Garrotxa, Girona
Date: 16th & 17th July 2022
I write this high-on-life.
I just spent the weekend hiking around the Spanish-French border. I stayed in a rural village called Sadernes; home to just 19 people. Sadernes has become a rural tourism site, where hikers and rock-climbers travel to experience the many rivers and cliffs of La Garrotxa National Park.
I find settlements near nation borders uniquely interesting as they are a blend of two cultures. The people there aren't really from either nation. They're their own thing. And I'm kinda like that. I'm neither English nor Spanish, I'm Spanglish. Plus, people who live near a border always have stories to tell.
For example, I have a 75-year-old Swiss friend who was born in the tri-border area between France, Switzerland and Italy. His name is Edmund and til’ today he still goes on crazy +10hr treks with alpine skis. While staying at his house, he shared stories of how in WW2, smugglers journeyed the highest peaks of the alps (like the Weisshorn & Mt Blanc) at night, in winter, to sell goods like coffee and tobacco. My privileged millennial ass can’t fathom how they normalised such harsh conditions (-30°C + hefty luggage + high altitude), with such dire consequences (death).
Visiting Sadernes reminded me that learning about the history of a place is key to understanding, and eventually enjoying the place. History lays context to your environment and makes it a story. And that story personifies the area by giving it a lifespan.
So while Edmund’s stories helped me understand how at 75 years old, he thinks it’s normal to trek vast distances in the Swiss alps, my trip to Sadernes taught me more about the history between France & Spain. The trail I took is most famous for hosting the Catalan refugees that were escaping the Fascist takeover of Spain in the 1930s. And you bet taking this route helped me better understand the Spanish civil war and the mindset of its refugees.
I’ve been trying to find an effective string of words to accurately describe what the sunset in Sadernes was like; but I’m struggling. By no means was it the most spectacularly visual sunset where you see it disappear over the sea. Rather, it was the transition from day to night, and watching the changes in the surrounding environment that I found mesmerizing. From the sunlight beaming on whatever patches of the hills it could reach, to the sounds of the river and animals, to the weather dropping a few degrees and then the darkness, accompanied by silence. It was perhaps the most enjoyable sunset in the (rough) 9,330 I’ve experienced. The simplicity was key. No noise. No company. No distractions. Just the transition from day to night to indulge in.
I’ve spent a good chunk of my life on mountains & hills, especially in 2022. Now living in a coastal city, it was refreshing to be back at high altitudes and to be humbled. Humbled because I’ve been reminded that there's something infinitely larger, infinitely more powerful and long-lasting than us self centered humans… and that is nature.
While most of this post has been pretty useless for you readers, I do like to close each piece with something to takeaway. So, what have I taken home with me?
(1) Consuming at least one book, documentary or podcast about a place (prior to visiting) boosts the probability of me enjoying it.
(2) I feel pure bliss when sat in nature, indulging in the daily duties of nature, without a thought about the future. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, it is perhaps when I feel most fulfilled; when doing nothing.
Thank you Sadernes for the €2 wine glasses that were more like chalices and thank you to the kind couple that drove me the last 30 minutes of the hike. Very excited to start writing more routinely again.
🔝 Best of the Week
🎵 Song of the Week
This was the first song I added to my queue for the above-described sunset. I scrapped all the other songs and set this on repeat. That’s how perfect the moment was.
🧠 Wisdom of the Week
For investing, there is no formula. Only probabilities. Think in these probabilities.
Sri Lanka has a near-perfect ESG score of 98. Higher than Sweden (96) or the United States (51). And what is the result of this commendable ESG score? Famine, civil unrest and revolution. Not everything that shines is made of gold.
Despite the digital nomadic trend accelerating at great speeds, the infrastructure supporting this lifestyle remains archaic. Accommodation is particularly tricky to secure, given property owners opt for either long or short-term rentals (and then have deposits and other pesky hurdles)
Badi is an app that targets medium-term rentals and minimises the administrative friction that intermediaries add. It’s how I managed to find my brilliant room in Barcelona (a city plagued with a property shortage and crisis). Badi is a hybrid of AirBnB and Wallapop as Badi’s sole job is to connect the two parties that wish to trade. Highly recommend it if you’re looking to stay somewhere in Europe for 2-11 months.
🔥 Also this week
🏫 Arizona Senate just passed a bill to fund students instead of systems - All families will be able to allocate their children's education dollars to the education providers of their choosing. No longer do people have to be directed how and where and with whom to raise their children.
♟️ A chess-playing robot grabbed and broke the finger of its 7yr old opponent - For years I’ve tried to suppress the fears of my technology-hating friends that believe a dark technological future awaits. Today they got a big dub! Don’t know about you guys but I find it INCREDIBLE how we repeatedly jump into the deep end when it comes to artificial intelligence. Not enough policy-makers and entrepreneurs question “is my creation safe?” and “what are the long-term consequences of it?” See Facebook, calculators, tinder and cars.
🤑 The infamous trio of Voyager, 3AC and Celsius all filed for bankruptcy this month, after they kickstarted an unprecedented deleveraging and liquidity crisis for the crypto industry - The demise of 3AC is nothing new. An over-zealous and over-levered hedge fund made a bad trade (arbitraging the Anchor 19% APY opportunity while UST & Luna imploded), and have since filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy. Whereas the fall of Celsius and Voyager, both recognised players within the crypto loan business, can be attributed to handing out impetuous loans to the likes of 3AC; with an evident lack of due diligence from both sides of the trade.
🛢️ Gazprom have further restricted flow through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline into Germany, now operating at just 20% capacity - Although it funnels just half of the what the Nord Stream 2 pipe can, the almost closure of Nord Stream 1 is hugely significant. It is the first, of what I think will be many threats to Europe, ahead of the Russia-Ukraine negotiations. President Zelensky has ruled out any truce deal (public opinion in Ukraine is unamibuously clear that they must continue the fight). Putin understands that his strongest point of leverage is not the battlefield, but Europe’s dependency on his fossil fuels. His goal is arranging a ceasefire and negotiating: (1) autonomy for Russian speakers in Donbas (2) assurance that Ukraine remains out of NATO. (3) Russia officially keeping Crimea. Winter is coming, and it is in the interest of millions of Europeans (including policymakers) that diplomacy brings an end to this war. I expect Putin to squeeze all the juice out that he can, and I don’t doubt his ruthlessness in ensuring he gets what he wants.
📈Amazon hikes cost of Prime by up to 43% in Europe - Yesterday the cost of Prime in France was €49 a year; but today it costs €70. Why? Well, the company claims it is because Prime has expanded its services (eg: same day grocery delivery). They also mention that they’re witnessing “increased inflation and operating costs.” I will be the sceptic and say that this price hike was planned years ago; long before we knew of inflation. Time after time we see tech companies launch their software with penetration pricing methods. Get their audience hooked, and once they’re comfortable and engulfed within the product, there is room for price to be increased (eg: Google Drive, Netflix, Revolut, etc). In other words, they’re luring people in with cheap/free prices and then exploiting their inelasticity of demand.
🚿 Shower Thoughts
After working from home for 3.5yrs, last week I moved into a co-work. It’s done wonders to my productivity and fulfilment. Highly recommend.