There are avenues of trees like the background of Velasquez canvases, and on May 30th you can drive out there, if you have money, or get a special- rate third-class round-trip railway ticket or go on a bus if you haven't (there will be a special bus leaving from the XXXX opposite the XXXX), and, coming from the hot sun of the bare, desert country, suddenly, under the shade of the trees, see brown-armed girls with baskets of fresh strawberries piled on the smooth, bare, cool ground, strawberries you cannot reach around with thumb and forefinger, damp and cool, packed on green leaves in wicker baskets. The girls and the old women sell them and bunches of wonderful asparagus, each stalk as thick as your thumb, to the crowd that comes off the special train from XXXX and XXXX and the people who drive into the town in motor cars and ride in on buses. You can eat at booths where they grill steaks and roast chickens over a charcoal fire and drink all the XXXX wine you can hold for five XXXX. You can lie in the shade or walk and see the sights until time for the XXXX. You can find the sights in Baedeker. The XXXX is at the end of a hot, wide, dusty street that runs into the heat from the cool forest shade of the town and the professional cripples and horror and pity inspirers that follow the fairs of XXXX line this road, wagging stumps, exposing sores, waving monstrosities and holding out their caps, in their mouths when they have nothing left to hold them with, so that you walk a dusty gauntlet between two rows of horrors to the ring. The town is Velasquez to the edge and then straight Goya to the XXXX. The ring itself dates from before Goya. It is a lovely building in the style of the old ring at XXXX and you can sit in a barrera seat and drink wine and eat strawberries in the shade with your back to the sand and watch the boxes fill and see the girls from XXXX and all the surrounding country of XXXX come in and drape their shawls over the front of the boxes, sitting, with much fan waving, to smile and talk with the pleasant, conscious confusion of amateur beauties under inspection. This girl inspection is a big part of XXXX for the spectator. If you are near- sighted you can carry a pair of opera or field glasses. They are taken as an additional compliment. It is best not to neglect a single box. The use of a good pair of glasses is an advantage. They will destroy for you some of the greatest and most startling beauties who will come in with cloudy white lace mantillas, high combs and complexions and wonderful shawls and who in the glasses will show the gold teeth and flour-covered swartness of some one you saw last night perhaps somewhere else and who is attending the fight to advertise the house; but in some box you might not have noticed without the glasses you may see a beautiful girl. It is very easy for the traveller in XXXX seeing the flour-faced fatness of the XXXX dancers and the hardy ladies of the brothels to write that all talk of beautiful XXXX women is nonsense. Whoring is not a highly paid profession in XXXX and the XXXX whore works too hard to keep her looks. Do not look for beautiful women on the stage, in the brothels or the canta honda places. You look for them in the evening at the time of the paseo when you can sit in a chair at a cafe or on the street and have all the girls of the town walk by you for an hour, passing not once but many times as they walk up the block, make the turn and come back, walking three or four abreast; or you look for them carefully, with glasses on boxes at the XXXX. It is not polite to focus the glasses on any one not in a box, nor is it polite to use them from the ring itself in those rings where the admirers of girls are allowed to stay in the ring to circle about before the fight and congregate before any special beauties.
This excerpt has been taken from a work of travel literature. Readers are invited to tell us: a) where is the action taking place? b) who is the author? Blackwell's Bookshops will award pounds 30-worth of book tokens to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by this Thursday. Literally lost 89: The book was Journey Into Cyprus by Colin Thubron. The action took place in Cyprus. There is no winner, so the book tokens will be added to next week's prize.