National Geographic : 1978 Mar
I ask a journalist to characterize some non Castilians. "Catalans," he says, "are sentimental, prag matic, good traders. Open to discussion and compromise." Basques: "A very close society, inflexible, good at sports. Hard workers. They feel they're an ancient super-race." Andalu sians? "Exuberant, clever with words, philo sophical. Good at getting the most with the least strain." And what of Gallegos, the people of Galicia? "Nostalgia-prone, soft spoken, don't like to commit themselves. Good politicians." He says these are all stereotypes, of course, but there's truth in them. "If you want to meet some really curious people, go southeast...." No, I'm off to the Bay of Biscay, to the land of those inflexible Basques. N BILBAO after midnight, in the drizzle the Basques call sirimiri,teenagers dance in the street to the tunes of a txistu, a little Basque flute. Playing it in public could have led to arrest only a few months ago, they say. Never has it been played as much as now. A young artist tells me that for years the Basque language was suppressed too. Many city people in their 20's and 30's can't speak it, but they're learning, and their parents are pleased. "Among kids, if you don't speak euskara you're out." I take the superhighway east-past high tension lines and factories, along rain-washed hillsides with sturdy cattle and farmhouses built of stone from the Cantabrian cordillera -to San Sebastian, the pearl of the Canta brian coast, a traditional summer resort.