These small towns up on the Meseta are almost ghost towns, with very small populations. Without the influx of business from pilgrims, some of them probably would be ghost towns. This was the day of Angel the Truffle Hunter and the white butterflies. The butterflies fluttered all around us, and sometimes I shortened my step to avoid running into one. I’ve seen them elsewhere, but not in such numbers as here.
We walked from Hornillos to Hontanas. A nice, cool day, but a very rocky road. My left pinkie toe was really complaining. In Hontanas, we had lunch, then I asked the barkeep to phone for a taxi for me. A guy sitting at the bar offered to drive me. When he saw James, he said, “Oh, there are two of you.” Clearly he had been thinking he was offering a ride to a single woman traveling alone.
I am not sure if I would have accepted his offer if I had been alone. The Camino is by and large safe, but still….Once in his car, he introduced himself as Angel. He rapidly said that he was a truffle hunter. He offered to show us his truffles and his house. I probably would have declined, but James had heard of the high value and rarity of truffles and wanted to take a look. With James along, I didn’t say anything, and we stopped at Angel’s house. He showed us a plastic container with truffles, and indicated more containers in his refrigerator. He estimated that he had 2000€ worth of truffles there. Since truffles have a very short shelf life, he needed to get his truffles to market quickly.
I asked him how he found the truffles, since I had read that pigs were outstanding truffle hunters. Angel said that he used a dog, who was a top truffle hunter, and such a dog was highly valuable.
His house abuts a beautiful ruined church, which he said is his now. Angel had a dog with him in his car, not the truffle hunter, he said, but Cherie, “his wife.” I think in offering to take me to Castrojeriz he was scouting out a potential foreign wife. Anyway, he offered us a ride, and an interesting story, so we were content. I wish I had taken a photo of Angel, but I didn’t.
Steps Today: 20,750
For photos, see June 19: Hornillos to Hostanas