National Geographic : 1965 Mar
Awaiting a verdict, petitioners at Valencia's Tribunal of the Waters attend open-air court in the provincial capital. Strict rules govern the flow of water from the Rio Turia through a network of canals, and farmers who violate them receive fines or lose their water rights. The Moors established the court in 960. the Spanish birth rate will show no appreci able gain. Meanwhile, longer lives add nearly 1 percent a year to the population. Martha volunteered to drive through Cata lonia "so you can relax and absorb the scen ery." I absorbed a countryside of green hills and vineyards, but I could not relax. Not that Martha is a bad driver; alarmingly, she was the best driver on the road that day. Prosper ous workers from all over Europe are learn ing to drive their first cars during Spanish holidays. Blinded by towering camping gear, whipped about uncertainly by their trailers, they give Spanish roads a baleful zest. And Spanish trucks-their freight more than trip led since 1950-offer other bulky challenges. Roman Road Leads to Valencia South of Barcelona, the seaside scenery began to resemble "California with castles," as Martha put it. Angular, craggy fortresses seemed a natural part of these hills. Tarragona, with its Roman walls and am phitheater, is a history book with hotels. Its statue of Caesar Augustus seems at home, as was the emperor himself when he sojourned 304 here. Rome unified and governed Spain dur ing six centuries and exerted a profound influ ence. Modern highways still follow the routes of Roman conquest and the 10,000 miles of imperial road-as we did now. At the fishing village of Ampolla, we eased toward the broad flood plain of the Ebro. Lush coastal fields showed what work and water could do. It also revealed a cross section of Spanish agriculture: In the marshes by the sea stood soggy fields of irrigated rice. From drier roots grew long-staple cotton. Next came groves of glossy orange trees, as neatly rowed as a formal garden. Vineyards clung to steep er slopes. On the nearly perpendicular hills above, shepherds tended grazing herds. With all its industrial growth, Spain re mains an agricultural country. And here sta tistics seem to lie: Agriculture accounts for only 26 percent of the national product, and 60 percent of the workers labor elsewhere than on the land. Yet most Spanish factories still produce for the domestic market-and farmers are the largest group of customers. In the banks, farmers deposit the savings that manufacturers borrow.