Life in the villages
The English economist and agronomist, Arthur Young traveled around the world to study the economic status of some countries. He was in Spain in the Valley of Aran between 1787-1789.
He saw flocks of sheep in Benasque, with four pastors and several dogs of the so-called Pyrenees, which had wide heads and two metal spiky collars. The pastors explained to him that these animals are necessary due to the abundance of wolves and bears. In the evening, when the dogs bark, the pastors come out with fire lit torches, because even if the dogs are protected by their spiky collars and are not afraid of the wolves, they would not dare to mess with the bear, invulnerable if it can lean against a rock.
The first pastor wins one hundred and twenty pounds and the bread; the others, eighty pounds and the bread. Mr. Young continued along through the mountains towards Puebla de Segur, in the river Noguera Pallaresa. He found plentiful cattle everywhere, and well-cultivated soil with little wheat, much rye, potatoes, beans, and some hemp.
The village people gave him a bad impression. The houses without glass were very rare; many did not have a fireplace and the smoke came out from small openings. In some of the villages, he had to rely on the hospitality of the priest, due to not finding another place where to stay or to flee from the parasites and mice of the lodges. The lighting came from torches. Women did not wear socks or shoes; instead they used pieces of cloth. In porches of the towns he would see a lot of people mutually picking on each others’ lice.
The bread was excellent, but the wine very thick. The bread cost four pounds for twelve ounces, and the red wine, two pounds for the bottle. His view can be summed up as follows: much kindness and appalling filth.
Collected by A. Ballarín Cornel. "El valle de Benasque". Zaragoza. 1974
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