Thursday, February 8, 2007
Click on the photos to enlarge.
What you don't see a lot of in France is bumper stickers. How can one get through the day without being the recipient of vehicular greetings ranging from the lofty "Visualize Whirled Peas" to the mundane "I love my Schnauzer"? It is puzzling. There is such a lack of bumper stickers, in fact, that at one point we thought it illegal to actually engage in affixing one to your bumper.
When we were in France shortly before the 2004 illegal election in the States, we carried numerous Kerry-Edwards buttons and stickers, as well as what we thought was the universally-accepted red circle and slash around the "W". The French are well-versed on US politics, knowing more than probably a high percentage of Americans themselves; but the concept of "W" has not translated well. On this 2007 trip, we have expressed our on-going sentiment that began election day, 2004---Worst. President. Ever.
While the French do not express themselves in loud garish verbal expletives on their car bumpers, some express their passion for their nationalities with small emblems. The Guara Catala, Catalan donkey, is the most common one we've seen in the Ariege, no doubt because of its proximity to Catalonia---the northeastern corner of Spain (with Barcelona as its capital). The "USAP" donkey is wearing Catalan flag stockings, but we are not quite sure what the USAP represents. The donkey is as much a symbol of national identity of north Catalonia as is the French rooster, the Aussie kangaroo, the American bald eagle, and the Spanish bull.
We understand that outside of Catalonia, in the rest of Spain, the Osborne Bull dominates as the unofficial national symbol. The Osborne Bull was widely used on billboards throughout Spain until roadside advertising was outlawed in the 1990's. Clever marketers mounted the massive black iron silhouettes on hillsides to loom over the roadways, and the bull endures. Over and above the fact that we are close to the Spanish border, there was an influx of Spanish at the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936 +/-) and many have remained. This is evident on names in the phone book and signs on stores. In a forthcoming trip to Spain we will verify this information.
If you know anymore about this, please comment. And if we can find any of these donkey stickers we are going to bring a few home as a statement on our truck.