National Geographic : 1992 Apr
ended for the year and other toreros were off on vacation. "Spain without bullfighting would be like paella without salt. You could eat it, but it would have no flavor." "Outsiders seldom grasp the essence of bull fighting," one longtime aficionado explained to me. "They think of it as a sport, but it's not a sport at all. It's an art." (If you wish to read about the latest corridasin the newspapers, you turn not to the sports pages but to a special section.) "It's not like going to a soccer match," my friend went on. "It's more like going to the bal let. You go to appreciate a performance, to watch the subtlety and skills of the toreros." THE GREATEST THREAT to Spain's unity is found in the dark mountains and steep, drizzly factory towns of the Basque country. For centuries the mountains of northern Spain have acted as forbidding barriers-parts of the Picos de Europa in Asturias were not explored until the 1930s-and nowhere is this more true than in the three small, hilly, and excep tionally beautiful Basque provinces of north central Spain. Great strides have been taken within the past dec ade in Spain's garment industry; Madrid hopes soon to rival Milan as a fashion capital. The Sal6n Cibeles show (left), held each spring andfall, attracts buyers from all over the world. Though not about to change their habits, nuns give bridal wear a glance as they pass a Seville boutique.