Monday, November 2, 2009

Magic Mushrooms

November is wild mushroom month in northern Spain. Our guide in Leon was also a bigwig in the local mycological society, and proudly told us he had designed the large poster plastered widely around town advertising special wild mushroom feasts at participating restaurantes, complete with photographs of more types of wild mushroom than I had known existed. (Too bad we’re not still in Leon, since the mushroom feasts were scheduled for November 2 to November 7.)
Ever since, I’ve been taking pictures of the more exotic mushrooms seen along our way, none of which I’ve ever seen in the United States (but then again, I haven’t walked several hundred miles along country paths and lanes in the United States recently). In general, our guide told us, the more colorful the mushroom, the more likely it is to be poisonous. By that standard, the mushrooms I photographed today must be lethal. I should have put something in to show the scale, but the larger was about eight inches across. Truly formidable mushrooms.
Apart from magic mushrooms, it was a good walking day. Much, much better weather than Sunday, and sunny most of the day. The second picture was taken as we climbed a hill out of ArzĂșa, just as the sun began to melt the morning clouds.
Our destination for the day, barely more than 12 miles away (virtually a holiday stroll) was Arca, also known as Pedrouzo on different maps. Both were once adjoining Spanish hamlets that grew together into a small Spanish town. Apparently the residents have been spatting ever since as to which hamlet’s name should have pride of place. But since there were no hotels in either hamlet/town, we stayed 10 miles off the Camino in a 17th Century manor estate, renovated now with every modern convenience except heat in the bedrooms. Actually, there are hot-water radiators, but they initially weren’t turned on, and after a few hours of heat, the boiler blew up and ended all heat for the night. Luckily, the boiler explosion had no effect on the kitchen, which was excellent..