Sheila and I have been good friends for many years and often plan to meet in interesting places. Two years ago we decided to meet in Spain where we participated in a program called Pueblo Ingles. We spent eight days at a luxury resort in a remote little visited region and had the opportunity to experience the real Spain. All we had to do to enjoy this marvellous place, at no cost, was speak English all day to Spanish speaking professionals who wished to improve their communication English. It was a wonderful experience.
We woke up each morning to fresh mountain air, dew glistening on terracotta-tiled roofs and the melody of songbirds. We had access to well-kept, lush grounds, with shady trees, sunny meadows and a peaceful pond. Each day began with a fabulous buffet breakfast with chocolate filled croissants piled high, wedges of Spanish Tortillas, exquisite hams and cheeses from the local farmers, fresh fruit, creamy yogurts, fresh baked bread, with the finest olive oil drizzled over or, for the brave, spicy Spanish tomato sauce, and the smoothest coffee I have ever tasted.
The “work” of communicating in English began at the breakfast table where two English and two Spanish participants were seated together. The first breakfast was awkward as the Spanish tried to keep up with the various English accents — Canadian, American, Australian, British and Welsh.
Lunch and dinner comprised of two equally delicious homemade three-course meals, served by an accommodating staff, complimented with a carafe of local red wine. We shared stories, experiences, idioms and culture with the Spanish-speaking participants as we ate. In between meals, we conducted one-hour one to one lessons while going for walks, making phone calls, relaxing by the pool, or discussing business practices; all in English of course. The only rule was no speaking Spanish. By the end of the 8 days, the Spanish were able to follow our conversations quite easily. One gentleman said he had started to dream in English.
A short walk from the resort took us to the 15th century village of La Alberca. We followed the narrow cobblestone streets that wound their way past wine cellars, stone watering fountains, huge wooden doors, houses built the year Columbus sailed and shops with expensive hams hanging in the windows. Our visit included a medieval feast and a chance to try drinking wine from a wine skin without spilling it down our front. The Spanish proved to be much better at it but Sheila did a pretty good job.
Every night at the resort there was entertainment that made us laugh so our sides hurt and dancing until the wee hours for those who were able to keep up with the fun loving Spanish. Thank heaven for the tradition of siesta.
Amazing friendships were formed, much laughter shared and wonderful memories created to keep for years to come. Some people enjoy the experience so much they return repeatedly. I am sure I will be one of them. Pueblo Ingles has two other locations in Spain. To learn more about this program visit http://www.puebloingles.com/