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.
Last week was filled with excitement, the highlight of which was definitely our overnight trip to Granada! On Friday we arrived at the beautiful Hotel Andalucia Center and met our tour guide who took us on a walking tour of the Albayzin district, a neighborhood traversed by a maze of narrow pedestrian streets that is famous not only for its Moorish roots but also for its Gypsy population, which inspired some of Granada native Federico Garcia Lorca’s most famous poems. After the tour of the Albayzin, they enjoyed some free time to eat lunch, walk around to soak up the culture, or take a swim in the pool back at the hotel.
At night after dinner in the hotel, we went to a Flamenco show and were amazed at the skill required for the complicated dance steps. The music was captivating, and for those of us taking Spanish guitar lessons, it was especially interesting to see professional musicians performing up close. The following day we visited the Alhambra, a sprawling walled city which in medieval times functioned as a self-supporting royal palace. The Alhambra is a wonderfully preserved example of Arab architecture in Spain, with ornate wall carvings, Arab baths, and interior plazas with fountains that would have served as highly efficient medieval air conditioning. Washington Irving was amazed to discover the Alhambra in the nineteenth century overtaken by wanderers and bohemians, and he himself lived there for several months, producing the classic book Tales of the Alhambra, rich with stories of sultans, knights, and princesses. The students really enjoyed the guided tour through this spectacular palace.
Today we had classes as usual and on Wednesday we are looking forward to our trip to Malaga, a city which combines Moorish architecture with more modern styles. It’s also the birthplace of Picasso, and we’ll be seeing some famous works in the Picasso museum as well. We’ll keep you posted!
On Saturday we crossed international borders and headed to Gibraltar, a British colony on the very tip of the Iberian Peninsula that has played a key strategic role in various military engagements over the past several centuries. Today Gibraltar functions as an international banking center and a duty-free haven for shoppers. More importantly for us, however, was the famous colony of Barbary Apes, which we visited after a steep cable car ride up to the very top of the Rock of Gibraltar. While not dangerous, the monkeys are definitely fun and mischievous, and we had a great time getting just close enough to take some photos.
Classes are going great as we are challenged to use our Spanish skills, whether through activities at the local farmers market or practicing conversation with authentic Spanish phrases. We’re making some big leaps and bounds and continue to improve!
Another highlight of the week was our beach volleyball tournament.
There still lots of exciting adventures ahead of this. This weekend we embark on an overnight journey to Granada where we will visit the Alhambra, a Moorish palace with incredible Arab architecture and design dating back to medieval times. We will also visit the Albaicín, a labyrinthine neighborhood where travellers sought out authentic Gypsy dances as far back as the nineteenth century. Photos to come….
We´re finishing our first full week in Tarifa and it has been a fun (and busy) seven days! Classes are going great. Windsurfing and kitesurfing are in full swing and learning the ropes on Tarifa’s beautiful beaches has been amazing. The wind is truly something else…which is why Tarifa is the windsurfing capital of the world! For the 4th of July the students shared some American holiday traditions with the Tarifa staff at a barbecue celebration, and a funtime was had by all. Saturday we have an excursion to the British colony of Gibraltar, so stay tuned for more about our exploits with the famous Barbary apes at the top of the rock!
Summerfuel in Conil, Cadiz, Tarifa, and Nerja is officially in session! After a day of orientation with ASA staff, the students met their host families, took a tour of the town, and began to get situated in their home for the next month. Activities beginning soon include cooking, Spanish guitar, and soccer. We’ll be having a tapas night as well and get to sample some Andalusian specialties. By the time our classes start on Monday, we’ll be well on our way to feeling like locals. Watch this space for updates!
We´re ready to welcome the students to Southern Spain! The main office number for Cadiz, Conil, Tarifa, and Nerja is 011 34 667 228 314. The local time zone is EST + 6 and our office hours are 10AM-2PM and 6PM-10PM Spanish time. You can e-mail us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After orientation in Jerez, the students will arrive at their homestay locations to meet their families and take a local tour on Thursday. If you want to send students mail, you can use their homestay family´s address.
Remember, the quickest way to get answers to any question or solve any problem is for students to ask local staff members for assistance. That´s what we´re here for…and we can´t wait to meet everyone!
Summerfuel Spanish in España Staff