Although many of the small Spanish pueblos we pass through seem nearly deserted, we’ve had the pleasure of encountering a few extraordinary folks – both locals and fellow pilgrims from all over the world. A simple “¡Hola!” can initiate an informative conversation, and sometimes, a new friendship.
Since the beginning of our long walk, we’ve passed gardens in their springtime state, usually impressed with the nearly-perfect rows, lush heads of lettuce, and irrigation systems. Occasionally we have the fortune to meet the gardener. On this particular day, walking through Moratinos, we stopped to observe a nice patch of horsetail (equisetum, or “cola de caballo” in Spanish), on the edge of a home garden. We asked the Spanish farmer if he used it, which lead to a 40 minute conversation about his garden, adjacent sunflower field, and the climate of Spain.
While passing through an Oak forest, a friendly bunch of Spaniards saw us crouching over plants, sprawled out on the side of the trail with our guidebooks and cameras. We shared a bit of our story and, enthusiastic about our project, they expressed their interest and support. We continued to cross paths over the next days, and soon learned that one man in particular, José María, is also a plant-fanatic. He taught us about the famous “Cardillo,” the Spanish oyster thistle, scolymus hispanicus.