National Geographic : 1965 Mar
the steps very carefully. That's good training for business." In a Barcelona-built SEAT sedan (preced ing page) Martha and I drove northward to the steep Pyrenees-that 10,000-foot wall that keeps Spain Spanish-and then dipped down to the Costa Brava. Some call this touristic magnet the Spanish Riviera, and it has the cliffs, cypresses, and crowded hotels to prove it. The Costa Brava is a major attraction for the 13,000,000 tourists who came to Spain last year-making tourism the nation's great est earner of foreign exchange, nearly a billion dollars a year. By day we watched the beaches disappear beneath beach towels and bathers from Eng land, Germany, and France. We saw scarcely a grain of sand and heard no word of Spanish until late afternoon, when the crowds went indoors to anoint their sunburns. Then a sec ond population emerged: short, strong old men wearing black berets and sashes. They 300 came out of their whitewashed houses to tink er with the gasoline lamps of beached boats and haul wheelbarrows full of rocks. "Sinkers," an old fellow said, "to weight our nets. We are going out to catch sardines." This man was but one of 105,000 Spaniards who engage in fishing and earn 1 percent of the national product. With government loans, deep-sea fishermen are today modernizing fleets that already harvest the open seas from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Guinea. Yet the small-scale local fisherman continues to follow "the work of St. Peter," as one of them remarked. Civil War Still Affects Birth Rate We turned inland from the beach, skirting the Pyrenees foothills, and wound westward through the verdant wine country of Catalon ia. Our purpose was to follow a loose schedule on a great looping route-to skim the Medi terranean coast to the Strait of Gibraltar, then head inland and north. Near a village we saw a rural school that plasterers and painters were refurbishing. We stopped to meet Sefior Imat, the stocky school master, and his wife. "Are you adding more space?" I asked. "No," said the schoolmaster. "We have fewer children now than last year." In an era of world population explosions, this condition seems strange. Yet we had stumbled upon an important population fact for the whole country: For seven decades the birth rate has declined, and during the Civil War of 1936-39 even fewer children were born. Now the number of young adults from 25 to 30-productive child-bearing ages-is limited. Demographers believe that until 1980 Crosses of carnations carpet a street in Sitges during the Feast of Corpus Christi. Villagers painstakingly place the petals in original designs to glorify the Holy Eucharist, borne aloft in an evening procession. After ward, the fiesta's first celebrants swirl over the crushed blossoms. Round and round go the rings in the grace ful sardana, an age-old dance that some scholars believe derives from sun-worship ing rites of ancient Greek colonists in Cata lonia. "Young men and women linked by their hands," as Homer wrote of such danc ers, celebrate the daily triumph of the sun over darkness. They dance beneath the stars in Barcelona's Plaza de San Jaime. Coats and shoes pile up in the centers.