Pueblo inglés

Trip Start May 30, 2008
Trip End Nov 02, 2008

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Castile-León,
Saturday, July 12, 2008

Headed to the Pueblo inglés meeting point without any clue of what lay ahead of me for the week. I knew there would be a lot of talking but beyond that, I wasnīt sure how the experience would turn out. I caught a taxi with Eric and Helen, anglos who I had met the day before. There were a few dramas (Helenīs alarm didnīt work so they slept in; I was waiting with my luggage next to a garden when the high powered sprinklers decided to turn on). We made it to the bus stop and checked out the other people standing around. I decided to bite the bullet and have a chat, so spoke to a group of three girls, Alicia, Patricia and Ana. Sat next to Alicia on the bus, and, while we were supposed to chat the whole way in english,our respective hangovers made it slightly difficult.

After 4 hours on the bus, we arrived at an old abandoned villiage in the North of Spain in Soria, that has been recently turned into a hotel - Valdelavilla. Itīs an amazing place, views across the mountains, old cobbled streets and cute little houses built with yellow bricks. After a massive 3 course lunch with vino (eating and drinking featured heavily throughout the week), we did a bit of a meet and greet, then checked out our rooms. God, to have my own room was such heaven. I could leave my ipod on charge without worrying it was going to get stolen and I didnīt get woken up by a chorus of snoring or rustling plastic bags in the night. I donīt know how Iīm going to cope returning to the real world.

Over the next few days, we had a fairly structured schedule - breakfast (sitting 2 anglos with 2 spaniards), then an hour one on one with a different spaniard discussing whatever we wanted to talk about, then a massive lunch, siesta, group activity and more one to ones. Then a massive dinner and drinks in the bar. Sounds difficult, huh? For the Spaniards , speaking in English nonstop all day must have been unbelievably tiring. But for me, it was fantastic, like a holiday but more talking.

It was also great to have time to myself. I got up early a few mornings and went for a run in the beautiful countryside. Thereīs a special magic in the mornings, a sparkle in the trees, a quiet in the fields, that the sun burns off later in the day. Even though it was a struggle some mornings, I found getting up and running was so peaceful and calming - it was definitely worth it. Plus, I had to work off all that food and wine somehow.!

Anglos were encouraged to perform or speak to the group before dinner if they had something to share. There were wine tastings, seviana dancing, drumming sessions, and, of course, a hooping demo by me. Everyone was really into it, and about 6 people have told me they want to start hooping after having a go with mine.

The one-to-one sessions were a great opportunity for me to pick the brains of the Spaniards for travel advice. Theyīve planned out my whole next two weeks, and given me heaps of tips for places to see in Seville, Granada, Valencia, Ibiza and Barcelona. Loving the local knowledge.

The sessions were also a bit of an eye opener for me. It sounds so obvious, but I couldnīt believe how much I had in common with the spanish. By the end of the week, I really felt like Iīd made some good friends, and hopefully, if I ever return to Madrid Iīve got some mates to stay with. Also picked up a few spanish words (mostly rude ones) and now understand much better how to pronounce the language.

Yesterday I had a bit of a tear in my eye when we had to leave. To get so close to so many people in such a short time is amazing, but the time flew by so quickly for me. Iīd definitely do the program again, if I got the chance.
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