National Geographic : 1956 Mar
Fashion Stands Still in Ans6, Spain Older residents cling to an cestral garb in this canyon walled Aragon village. Men wear baggy black breeches over white bloomers. Yard-wide sashes drape the hips. Round hats are anchored by kerchief liners, and rope soled sandals are held with cords. Not a nun, the woman wears the regional costume. Her dark cowl conceals the high-waisted pleats of a woolen gown. Ans6's fiesta dress shows on page 329. 4-A French shepherd in the Vallee de Campan uses his knapsack to carry a lamb to market. but has always been shelved because of the expense and the appalling engineering dif ficulties. I was sometimes shocked to dis cover that I had motored 200 miles to reach a place 30 miles away as the crow flies! On the other hand I was astonished by the excel lence of those roads that do exist. Rain in France; Spain Parches Another fundamental difference between the French and the Spanish Pyrenees was ex plained to me as I traveled through the ex quisite valley of the Segre. Suddenly the figure of an excited Spaniard waving a red flag enlivened the lonely road. I pulled up, and he explained that "dina miteros" were at work near by. In a moment there was a loud explosion, and I drove on into an astonishing scene. In this valley, miles from anywhere, men swarmed over a colossal excavation that looked like the dry dock for a dozen battleships. Con crete mixers rumbled, snorting bulldozers ad vanced and retreated from the edge of an abyss, and a light railway rattled through the dust. Yet another hydroelectric dam was rising. Making electricity from harnessed rivers is the one big industry of the Pyre nees. The hydroelectric boom began early in this century with the work of Dr. Fred Stark Pearson, an American engineer who perished in the sinking of the Lusitaniain World War I. He designed the water supply of the river Noguera Pallaresa. Today there are dozens of generating stations in the Spanish Pyrenees, and one-fifth of Spain's electricity comes from these mountains, I was told. A new dam, which I saw in the making, will be able to produce 40,000 horsepower. The engineer who showed me over this im pressive construction concluded our tour with a question. "Do you know the difference between the French and the Spanish side of these moun tains?" he asked. Then, without awaiting my reply, he said: "Rainfall."