Tapas is the Spanish word for appetizers. Originally, according to legend, King Alfonso "The Wise" ordered all restaurants to serve appetizers, in between drinks, after he himself was "cured" by such a treatment after being ill. However, the likelihood of this scenario might actually be more legend than fact, hyped up over centuries of alcoholics indulging in appetizers so they can drink more. Regardless of that fact, this second installment of my reading list was made on behalf of practicality, not necessarily because it's something I would have normally picked out.
About a month ago my Spanish teacher gave my class a project to read a book that was influenced by some aspect of Spanish culture, and when we reported on it we had to write the report in Spanish. I wasn't quite sure what kind of book I wanted read, but I always like a good biography and and I'd never read one that had the element of travel to it so I thought that this would be a good book for me.
The premise of the book is that Polly Evans, who was working in Hong Kong as a magazine editor, got fed up with her life at and where it was going at that particular point and time, and in a effort to move beyond her regular scope of life and change the direction it was going in she decided to buy a bike and bike across Spain.
Polly's book also weaves the rich Spanish culture into her book by treating the reader to mini history lessons, that you can almost picture her thinking these thoughts as she's biking across the mountains of Andelusia. She informs the readers of the religious background of the country, how most every social group (including the King and Queen for a time) was persecuted for their beliefs. Polly also offers up humorous anecdotes that she experienced along her trip, the experiences of being chased by wild pigs and the odd cast of characters that come into her life on her trip. From Nazi taxi drivers at the airport to spinster hostel owners each one helps to add color to the trip that really helped her to arrive at a peaceful place, amid the frantic nature that plagued her mind at the beginning of the book.
The story brings to light the thought that we really are capable of doing things and pushing ourselves farther than we may have thought, even if our intentions at the beginning of our endeavour may be purely selfish. Polly began her trip simply wanting to get away from the chaos and trappings of the city. She left China wanting to discover a new world and culture and in the process dicovered a little of herself along the way.
Other Books by Polly Evans
Fried Eggs with Chopsticks
Kiwis Might Fly: Around New Zealand on Two Big Wheels
On a Hoof and a Prayer: Around Argentina at a Gallop
Mad Dogs and an English Woman