Leaving the palace of Aranjuez, I took the reins of my saddle and headed slowly but steadily southward, heading towards the famous and historic city of Toledo. Once it passed, and following the course towards noon, the landscape and cultivation changes began to be remarkable because after the slope they call “of the snows” some oak forests are left behind, and the horizon begins to flatten, with just a few hills and hills isolated the plain becomes protagonist gradually.
I leave one of my Almonacid margins, and continue to decide by guiding me through the map they lent me before I left the palace. The color of the earth has also changed, the variety of brown, reddish and ocher colors is fascinating. These plains seem of great productivity, immense vineyards and centuries-old olive trees take over the countryside. A lot of activity is perceived, gangs of men and women speck the plots, we are in mid-October and the people of the region are finishing the harvest, picking the fruit that has cost them so much work to produce. The atmosphere smells like grapes, before I arrived in Spain many had told me about the wine from this region that already appears in the comic novel Don Quijote de La Mancha, and I'm dying to try.
Passing a small strait between what looks like a short mountain chain very close to the town of Mora, another change in the landscape is detected. After crossing these hills that dot the area begins to glimpse the profile of a more remarkable fortress on the horizon. Here the steppe is almost infinite, kilometers and kilometers of land bathed with vines, olive trees and cereal. As if it were a guiding lighthouse, I head towards the fortress that is seen in the distance, nestled in these hills so common here, in its skirts they begin to see some bell tower and low houses. I think I'm coming to the town of Consuegra, the sun begins to fall and the colors it leaves in the sky are an orange that I had never seen before. My docile horse begins to suffer from a certain exhaustion, with which I will rest in this historic village.
Upon arriving at the entrance of the villa, I found a inn to leave my saddle, a friendly innkeeper, of thick complexion and calm expression attended me and offered a room that was in excellent condition. From my appearance, he realized that I was a foreigner and took the opportunity to register to ask
- How should I address the Lord ...?
-My name is Löfling, Pedro Löfling, I'm traveling south, in a few months I embark for America on a scientific mission commissioned by His Majesty Fernando VI.
"Excellent Mr. Löfling," replied the innkeeper who, with a restless smile, said:
-He has told me where he is going, but he has not told me where you are coming from
Löfling, accustomed to the direct style of the Spaniards, did not bother and with a smile replied to the innkeeper
-I come from Sweden and I am a botanist, I am dedicated to the study of plants and flowers and I am making a catalog of the species following the guidelines of my master Linnaeus.
-Ah! What plants and flowers do you say? Here we have one of great singularity, it leaves just three weeks now in October, it gives a highly valued spice. It's about saffron, here many families grow small plots of this flower.
After the brief conversation, and somewhat curious about the innkeeper's comment regarding saffron, I went to sleep with my thoughts busy in that enigmatic flower.
The next day and with great courage I told the innkeeper if he could introduce me to someone who had saffron, to see him and learn more about this curious crop. The friendly innkeeper gave me several addresses and contacts and offered to accompany me so that they would not miss the arrival of a foreigner who knocks at the doors of their houses.
We toured the square, and passed near the Hermitage called Santísimo Cristo, of very recent and striking construction, near this was our goal. A local producer named José who, with a wide smile, was delighted to show us his saffron. When we went there I was impressed.
To be continued in the next blog post...