Cádiz, Vejer, and Last Day of Cooking!


After recently saying goodbye to three of our students, we welcomed two students from the Barcelona program to spend the last week with us in Conil. After they arrived on Saturday afternoon, we took an excursion to Cádiz.

We began our tour of Cádiz at the Torre Tavira, an old watchtower. Since Cádiz has one of the most important ports of trade in Spain, the watchtowers were used to protect the city. At the time, Torre Tavira was the main watchtower since it is located in the center and at the highest point in the city.

After learning about Torre Tavira’s importance and enjoying the views from the terrace level, we took a brief walking tour of the old part of the city. After that, students had free time for shopping, exploring, and finding an afternoon snack!

On Sunday, we visited a nearby town called Vejer, where Cucu (our local assistant) and her grandfather showed us around. Cucu’s grandfather was the mayor of Vejer for many years so he was especially knowledgable in the history of the town. He told our students about a local tradition that is quite unique. Every four years, the town hall raffles off plots of land. Whichever families win these plots of land, have four years to do whatever they want with them. This tradition began centuries ago when Vejer was being constantly conquered by the Moors and then reconquered by the Christians. Since many people considered it dangerous to live in Vejer, the town began this tradition of raffling off lands to attract people to stay! Up to this day, the tradition continues.

Last night (Monday night) was our last night of cooking class. We made delicious homemade pizza. The chef also surprised the students with a cookbook of the recipes we have made together. Each student will be bringing one home!

Today is our last day of classes and also the last day of surf. We are soaking up every moment of our last week in Conil.

¡Hasta pronto!

Week Three


We are at the end of week three and a lot has happened. Summerfuel’s “Points” competition came to an end on Wednesday. The competition Started on day 1 and students in each team received points based on their performance in Spanish classes, workshops, excursions and the video project “docu-Conil”. To say that students got a bit competitive would be the understatement of the year.  The prize was dinner and a later curfew and everyone fought for it! In the end there was a tie between the “Supermercado” and “Cool O’s” teams. Well done!

On Wednesday we visited Conil’s lonja where fish caught in Conil is auctioned to local restaurants and buyers from Italy and Greece. We watched a video about the different fishing methods used by fishermen in Conil and were there to see the boats come in with their catch after a long night at sea.

On a sadder note, students who signed up for the 3 week option left this morning. We were so sad to see them leave and will miss them very much.

Tomorrow, we are traveling to Cádiz, the capital of the province and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere. This is the place where when they dug the foundation for a new building they found a Roman circus!

We also have a treat on Sunday. We will be going to the beautiful whitewashed town of Vejer where we will be toured by Cucu’s grandfather who was the Mayor of Vejer for many years. Cucu (Summerfuel’s local assistant) will dress in the traditional costume of the cobijada woman of Vejer. The cobijada women dressed in black from head to toe and only showed one eye. We asked students to invite their Spanish friends who will also come with us. We will return to Conil after dinner.

¡Hasta pronto!




Times flies!

We can’t believe we’re already in our final week here in Cádiz. Time sure flies when you’re having fun. In our academic classes we went to the market. Local farmers and fisherman go to the market in the morning to sell either fish freshly caught or freshly picked fruit. The students had to fill out a worksheet and interview the people who work there. ¡Qué interesante!

In photography the students are learning how to edit their pictures and take scenic shots.
Today in class the students are participating in a scavenger hunt through Cádiz! They have to use their Spanish skills to decipher clues and speak with various people. On Friday we have our final party in which the Summerfuel staff, the Spanish families and the students all gather to celebrate their time here in Spain. The following day its off to Madrid to start our journey back to the States. Stay tuned for more pictures and details.

“The most beautiful city ever”

As promised, here is a picture from Córdoba. This is one of its most famous patios.

We were not allowed to take pictures of the spectacular noctural visit of the Mezquita, therefore you will have to get the details from your sons and daughters, or come back to see it for yourself!
On Saturday morning the group headed to charming city of Seville. Several students said that it was the most beautiful city they had ever seen! We first visited the Alcázar, the oldest palace in Europe still used as an occasional royal residence. Though it was built by Christian kings, the Alcázar preserved the Arab architecture popular in Spain throughout the Middle Ages, which is characterized by a beautiful succession of fountains, arches, intricate wall carvings and bordered by lush gardens. More recently the Alcázar has been used as the palace of Dorne in the famous HBO series Game of Thrones (Juego de tronos).
Then we walked right next door and visited the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, famous for its unique architecture. It is also believed that Christopher Colombus is buried here. His tomb is carried by four larger than life statues.

The attached tower, called the Giralda, has ramps instead of stairs leading up to its bell tower so that it could be climbed on horseback. Everyone climbed to the top to take aerial pictures of Seville and to get a bird’s eye view of the Patio de narajas (Patio of Oranges) in the center of the cathedral.
Afterwards we had lunch at a delicious Italian restaurant. Then the students had free time to shop, soak up the culture, or go back to the hotel to relax in the pool. After dinner we went on a boat ride down the Guadalquivir River. We saw the Torre del Oro (the Tower of Gold that held the treasures Columbus brought back from the New World), the Cathedral and all the buildings from the World’s Fair. Needless to say, we had a blast!

Today after breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we went on walking tour of the Barrio de Santa Cruz, a district of narrow and winding pedestrian streets and quiet, hidden plazas dating back hundreds of years to Middle Ages, when Arabs, Jews, and Christians coexisted harmoniously in Spain. Our tour guide explained important sites, streets, statues and monuments. After lunch we took the bus and headed back home. Yes, we now call our homestay locations “home!” It’s hard to believe that we are already entering our last week here!

On our way to Córdoba!

Today we woke up early and headed to Córdoba. Córdoba has gone through many rulers from an Iberian city, to a Roman city, and then the capital of the Islamic civilazation in Spain. During the 10th and 11th century it was the most populous city in the world and became the intellectual center of Europe. This period was characterized by remarkable success in trade and culture. The city was captured by King Ferdinand III during the Spanish Reconquest, however, the Islamic and Roman influences are still very apparent today. Our first stop was a tour around the old Jewish neighborhoods characterized by narrow cobblestone streets adorned with flower pots and small entrances leading way to beautful patios. ¡Qué interesante!
After some free time to soak up the culture and grab a bite to eat, your sons and daughters will visit The Great Mosque of Córdoba / La Mezquita at night! The entire room will be dark and then an arch or important artifact will be lit up with a voice giving an explanation of its importance. All of this while traditional Arabic music is heard in the background. The Mezquita held a place of great importance amongst the Islamic community of al-Andalus (the former name of Andalucia) for three centuries – that’s 300 years! It was the heart and central focus of the city. This catedral/ mosque, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is quite impressive. The students are sure in for a treat tonight! Stay tuned for photos and more details.

Yesterday in Cádiz the photography class met up at an art exhibit to take pictures.

Then we met up with the rest of the group to take a walk around Cádiz and grab something to eat.

Lights, camera, action!

In Cádiz, the students have been working on their very own plays! Your sons and daughters worked in groups and had the opportunity to write their very own guión (script) and then act it out with props on a stage! ¡Qué divertido! How fun!

This was indeed a special week because we also got the chance to celebrate a cumpleaños! Happy Birthday Eve!
Evening activities are also going very well. In surfing, everyone is standing up on the boards. Manuel brought his guitar for some musical accompaniment while we took breaks on the shore.
In cooking class we made pollo empanado (a breaded chicken dish) and for dessert we each got a chance to decorate our own mini cakes.
Today in class the students learned about the history of Seville and Córdoba. Tomorrow we embark on our overnight journey to these two fascinating cities that are both so important in the development and history of Spain. Stay tuned for updates and photos from the trip!

Meatballs, Conil and bullfighting!

What a combo & what a weekend so far! Evening activities are booming! Everyone in surfing is now standing up consitently on the boards and in cooking class we made the most delicious meatballs ever! They were almost all gone before I was even able to get a picture. We also learned how to make rosquillas – a Spanish doughnut covered in sugar and cinnamon for dessert. Yum!

Today we took a trip to Conil, a nearby beach town and also home to a Summerfuel program. The students in Conil gave us a tour of their town – including the famous arco (arc/portal of the old wall surrounding the town) and the paseo marítimo (walkway along the beach). Our tour ended with everyone climbing to the top of the Torre Guzman (a tower by the beach) to take beautiful pictures of the town and beach below. Afterwards everyone had some free time to either explore the town or go to the beach – and it was perfect beach weather today!
In the evening both the Cádiz and the Conil group participated in a “Capea” at a nearby ranch. During a capea people get to practice bullfighting with a baby bull. First we all sat down together and had a little snack. Then it was time to bullfight. It was very exciting and we have many brave students that took a cape and gave it try!
Right now your sons and daughters are enjoying a night in Cádiz and tomorrow will be a free day for them to rest up, spend time with their families and get ready for another exciting week!

A new view of Cádiz

Cádiz is known for its many towers that rise above the buildings. torreThese towers were used as look out points in the olden days to protect the city from pirates and other invaders. Yesterday we visited the most famous one, the “Torre Tavira.” The Torre Tavira has been turned into a museum that tells the history of Cádiz and its towers. It also has a special lens on the top called the Camera Oscura. This lens when reflected with mirrors projects onto a screen inside showing the entire city. camera oscuraThe students were fascinated! Afterwards they climbed to the top of tower and took pictures with each other. It was also a great opportunity to get some aerial shots of the city!

After visiting the tower, students went to the beach to either spend time with their friends or participate in surfing class. They’re really having a lot of fun in surfing and are excited that they are having such success with the sport!

Tomorrow your sons and daughters are headed on a trip to Conil and then they are going to practice bull fighting at night (with a baby bull of course)! Stay tuned for more photos.