National Geographic : 1925 Mar
LOOKING pOWN ON ECROPE 281 black wedge of the storm lifted above us into the golden, sunlit country beyond. Through some momentary, drifting cloud the low-lying sun sends forth long bars of alternate light and shade, like giant chariot spokes, as if to guide us in our eastward flight; and the whole coun- tryside lie floating under a rising mist that covers the land with a transparent lavender veil. Such a glorious moment's careless rapture is worth "an age without a name." ACROSS SPAIN ON A SACK OF ~1AIL The \yaIled city of Carcassonne slips by, sharply etched in light and shadow (see page 282), and the glistening waters of the :i\Iediterranean appear ahead. As \\'e s\ying by the eastern slopes of the Pyrenees. the clouds that had seemed so black and ominous overhead now appear snow-white, soft, vaporous, streaming south. Perpignan lies in a fertile valley at the eastern foot of the Pyrenees, and here we make our first landing, one hour from Toulouse, to pick up the mail from ~ Tar- seille. The connecting plane has arriYed before us \yith another passenger. a young Frenchman \yith military clothing sam- ples for his clients among the fonction- naires at Rabat. :;\1 y com fortable chair is removed and replaced by a huge sack of mail; «n('u! !?ilos cxccdcJlt)) of baggage is wedged in alongside; 1\ Tonsieur, my new tra\'eling companion, takes hi place before me. \yhile I mount solemnly on top of the mail sack, head and shoulders exposed to the wind. From such a vantage point, ('n plein air) I tour the length of the Spanish coast! It is noon and we are approaching :\li- cante, 6,000 feet above a tangle of rocky slopes bordering the sea. Sun-baked white huts cling precariously to the ridges. Terraces, burnt dry, struggle up the hill- side:>. On our right the mountains rise sharply pointed, precipitous, guIlies and pockets in their bare sides, patches of rough culti\'ation on their lower slopes. Dried riYer beds lie parched in the heat of the summer sun. On our left the great bowl of the 1\f ed- iterranean. green to deep indigo-blue along the rocky shore line, silver-gray on the shimmering horizon; a few toy fish- ing boats motionless on its placid surface. The drowsy, friendly, comfortable purr of the engine which reaches us muffled by the cotton in our ears, and the deep drafts of cool fresh air have induced my companion to doze in the corner of the cockpit, his feet dra\yn up under him on top of packages of machine parts, the scarf about his neck waving languidly. like an ancient altar flame, in the eddies of \\,ind above his bent head. Barcelona, \\,ith its beautiful park its monumental bulI ring, its uncompleted Cathedral, is three hours behind us. Pefiiscola, that extraordinary cluster of gray waIls and white fishermen's huts clinging to a tiny rock thrown out like a hutton into the sea (see page 286). has faded into the distant haze. This is Spain. dry, sunburnt Spain, whose brown hills and relentless heat have hurned them- seh'es 0 indelihly into Spanish character. Valencia and its fertile vaIley lie forgotten to the rea r (see page 289). \VE TRANSFER :'of .\IT, TO A PLANE BOUND FOR ALGERIA Alicante at our feet, choking under a dense blanket of dust stirred up by the unbidden sirocco. The sirocco is as un- welcome in Spain as is the mistral in southern France. V/e leave our cool height and glide dO\\'t1 slo\\'ly, skim over a fence of rough piled stones. and settle to the earth, kick- ing up a great cloud of yellow dust be- hind us, as \\'e taxi to the hangar. v\ hat a contrast with the cool green field at Toulouse a few hours earlier! Here the barren. sandy ground seems to seethe in heat and the air is thick \yith suspended dust. =" 0 time for lunch. A cup of black Spanish coffee \yhile the mail is being transferred to a waiting plane, a few pesetas to the sandaled, slatternly femme de blf~'ette} and \\'e are off, happy to rise quickly aboye the mantle of dust and breathe the clean air again. The hot \\'ind off the bare hilIs clutches at the plane and tosses it angrily about, until we pass suddenly into the cool stratum above and make smoothly for the distant peaks of the Sierra Xeyada (see page 292), far to the south.