Spain Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything


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Spain is a very beautiful country, where there is such a diversity of climatic areas over the country that you can swim in the Mediterranean ocean in the morning, then drive for three hours and be in a ski resort called Sierra Nevada1.

The culture of Spain is also incredibly interesting. Spanish people, although laid back, are very loyal to religion - most Spaniards are Roman Catholics, about 90% in fact. Holy days appear about every week or two, and are also a pretty good way to get out of doing work. Spanish people have made a new law which states that if there is a holiday on the Thursday or Friday, you have to make it into a puente ('bridge'), so you have to include Saturday, Sunday and Monday - yet another insight into the Spanish mentality. These holy festivals usually last a week or two, and involve lots of Sevillana dancing and Flamenco (in the south), drinking lots of sangria, and eating paella. The parties are very loud and lively, and mean that no-one will sleep for days2.

Another ritual which is also misunderstood is bullfighting. Bullfighting is seen as a blood sport where the bull is slaughtered for everyone else's enjoyment. This is partly true, but people don't know the background to it. Traditional bullfights are now quite scarce, because of the Spaniards' maƱana attitude, and they now inject the bull with drugs before it enters the bullring making it a lot less work for the toreador (bullfighter) to tire it out and eventually kill it. In the places where they practice the original art of bullfighting, the toreador enters the ring with a bull that has just come in from the training grounds, and hasn't been injected, poked, cut or enraged, so it's less than an equal fight. The bullfighter has to kill the bull with a cape, and a sword thrust to the heart, which he can only achieve by positioning himself right next to the side of the bull, and get above a point between its shoulder blades. This sport is actually very dangerous, and has resulted in some nasty injuries.

Another great thing to see in Spain is the landscape, and the views from the high mountain villages. Most of Spain's mountain villages are perched atop the most unstable looking points on mountain overhangs, so the houses look as though they are going to fall over the edge if someone so much as sneezes. The houses are nearly always white, because they need to reflect the great amount of heat they receive in the summer. These villages are also paradise for artists because of the nostalgic views and the very interesting sun-aged faces of the inhabitants.

Spain is also renowned for its wildlife. The incredible variety of species is astounding, and while there are many different species of animals, the birds are particularly interesting, with species like the golden oriole, hoopoe, and many varieties of vultures, eagles, and migrating birds from Morocco, like flamingoes, which prefer the coastal areas of Spain.

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1Literally 'snowy mountain'.2Including anyone not participating, because they can be heard for miles around.

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