One thing I’m known for is having a great deal to say , so when I saw an advertisement for English speaking folk were wanted to share their language, knowledge & traditions with a group of Spanish teachers wanting to improve their English for their students, I thought, this is me, this is my turn to give a little back .
I applied to DIVERBO , a company based in Madrid that organises immersion language courses and thought no more of it. A couple of weeks later I was ‘IN’ and planning for my trip commenced. Now those with family, animals and businesses will know that taking a week out, calls for some military operation tactics, extreme organisational skills and then at the 11th hour a ‘oh what the hell’ approach. So timetables and to do lists were prepared for the family, bags packed with plenty of warm clothes, I was swapping one mountain view for another albeit much higher up and much colder.
I was quite anxious, not knowing really what to expect, but prior to departure the comradery started with emails to and from volunteers, this eased my nerves. I was to meet up with another lady on her travels to share our journey up Cazorla Jaen. Our journey flew by, I’m not sure we even drew breathe, I was in good company 😉
Stopping en-route for the must have Spanish breakfast ‘Pitufu Catalana’ and Cafe con leche, I was approached by an elderly gentleman, with map in hand, speaking in English ‘I don’t suppose you’re on your way to Pueblo Ingles ?’ and here we met the wonderful Henry, who too was on his inaugural adventure with Diverbo and at the tender age of 81, hats off to him !
The most beautiful journey was enjoyed with spectacular scenery of vast planes, snow capped mountains and forest clad hills. Driving through the National park, Coto de Valle our lodgings came into view. A comfy, warm hotel, peacefully situated in stunning grounds, fountains with icicles, persimmons and madrona berries, hanging like baubles and our home for the next week.
We went straight to lunch, where a plentiful array of tapas and welcoming red wine awaited and for me the biggest surprise. I was greeted by a lady who said ‘Lynsey ?’ me ‘Yes’, ‘ What was your maiden name ?’ , a tad direct I thought ‘ Spencer’ I replied ‘ Well I’m Wendy Warner’ …Speechless already and I’d only just arrived.
Wendy & I were great friends growing up in our rural village in England going to Nursery, Infant & Juniors together , spending long summer holidays on our bikes, roller-blades and hanging out. Here we were, 30 years later, in the middle of nowhere and sharing a room !!! The fun started here 😉
Our first evening we were all introduced to each other, the brave Spanish teachers as nervous as us, the other volunteers from all corners of the globe and after a few ice breaker games , the friendships started.
The week progressed FULL ON, this is not for the introvert ! One to one discussions, group activities, theatre, games, quizzes but always TALKING non-stop talking 14-16 hours a day. We walked and talked, climbed and talked, visited and talked, danced and talked, dined and talked !
Half-way through the week, voice faltering rapidly, exceptionally tired, I do like to burn the candle at both ends, and to my delight so did many of the others, I thought NO no more, I just need to go home. My name’s Lynsey get me outta here ! But then a second wind, the end was in site, and visit to the local town of Cazorla, gave a little respite and the progress of us all was outstanding.
I am still amazed at the level of English our teachers had, their passion to learn, share and get involved. The desire to return to their classes from Nursery schools to university level with an advanced knowledge and enthusiasm to include English language into their classes as much as possible.
During the week I was often questioning my own ability of language, I was aware of my pronunciation, my explanations and the complexity of English.
Meal times and social time were a joy, each time changing places and meeting and creating friendships with new people. Sharing traditions, colloquialisms and all totally in English. Singing, dancing, guitar playing, some talented folks out there ! Those learning or speaking a foreign language will know that senses of humours are very difficult to gauge, but they got it !
All in all a rewarding, sole searching, exhausting, friend making, voice losing, laughter filled, undeniable unforgettable experience.
And to all my friends from Cazorla, new and old and from all over the world, Thank-you for getting me through it and as we say Until we meet again !