Diverbo Pueblo Inglés – La Alberca, Spain

Or “Forgive Me Reader, For I Have Not Posted!”
It has been more than five weeks since our last post but only one week since we’ve come back from Spain.  And in that time, we’ve had to do all the things everyone does when they return home after an extended absence – shopping, laundry, catch up on the news from the neighbors, etc.  But we also helped plan and implement a surprise birthday party for our dear friend Brenda, went to several musical rehearsals, ate out with friends, attended a concert, blah, blah.  Yeah, we know.  Such a life!
image
What a face! Brenda was really surprised to find 27 people in her apartment, waiting to eat sandwiches and cake. I think it was a memorable birthday for her!

If you are a new reader and are expecting to read all about our life in Ecuador, please read our previous 15 posts.  And stay tuned because we will get back to our life here in Cuenca in a couple more posts.  Our plan is to devote this post to our Diverbo Pueblo Inglés experience.  The next post, which we hope will be within the week, will be about what we did in and around Madrid.  After that, back to the southern hemisphere and life in the jewel of the Andes – Cuenca!

You must be asking yourself:  What is Diverbo and why would you call a town English?  (Pueblo=Town; Inglés=English)  Let us enlighten you.  Diverbo is a language instruction company that teaches English to Spanish speaking children, teens and adults in Spain and to Germans in Germany.   Pueblo Inglés is an eight day English immersion program for Spaniards who wish to improve their English.  The students pay many, many Euros in order to spend many, many hours in English conversation with native English speakers like us.  We received free room and board in a lovely rural resort for more than a week as compensation for our “expertise” and ability to converse in English.  We paid for our airfare to Spain and for lodging and food before and after the program.  For more information about Pueblo Inglés and their volunteer program, go to http://www.diverbo.com.Diverbo

image
We didn’t always eat in such a cavernous dining room – this was our final evening meal in a special restaurant in the village of La Alberca. But we always did eat great food and enjoyed each other’s company.

We originally heard about this program five years ago while listening to a Rick Steve’s travel podcast.  The caller described an intense week of conversation and getting to know a couple dozen Spanish people, their culture, and making life long friends – for free!  Even back then, with retirement still a faint glimmer in the future, we really thought we’d like to have this experience.

Fast forward to the rather quiet week between last Christmas and New Year’s, at which time we explored the idea further, applied for a spaces, were accepted, bought airline tickets to Madrid, and wondered whether a) Glenn would be able to spend that much time talking with people and b) Mara would be able to eat dinner at 9 pm.  You’ll be glad to know that we were successful on both counts!

Diverbo holds Pueblo Inglés events at various venues throughout Spain all year long.  Our week took place in the Hotel Abadia de los Templarios, which is a four-star modern rural complex at the edge of a little village called La Alberca.  We stayed in two story chalets (Spaniard upstairs, Anglos downstairs) that circle around the main dining and meeting room.  Even though it was February and Spain’s version of winter, we thought it was a very beautiful spot.

image
La Alberca is nestled between four mountain ranges in the Salamanca region of Spain. Most days it was pretty windy and cold but it was winter, after all!
We were called "La Alberca 951" because we were the 951st Pueblo Ingles group at La Alberca.  We had just arrived and had no idea what we would be experiencing.
We were called “La Alberca 951” because we were the 951st Pueblo Inglés group. We had just arrived and had no idea what  to expect.

Okay, Glenn and Mara, you went to La Alberca, it’s in Spain, it’s pretty, but what did you DO?  What is Pueblo Inglés really about?  Well, our day began with mandatory buffet breakfast at 9 am.  I know, sounds rough, right?  We made sure that we always had two English speakers and two Spaniards at our tables of four.  We were instructed to always speak English and to make sure the Spaniards always spoke English.  The morning and early afternoon were mostly spent in one to one conversations with each other.  Every hour we were assigned a different Spaniard.  By the end of the week, we had met individually with 22 different people, each with unique stories, backgrounds, and language skills.  But also by the end of the week, we had 22 new Spanish friends, as well as 22 new native English speaking friends.

In addition to one on one time, we had diverse discussions in our “two on two” time, had telephone conversations, and were a part of several staged conference calls.  Each Spanish participant had to give two five minute presentations (in English of course) during the week.  Sometimes our schedule allowed us to be a part of that audience.  Lunch was at two and like all the meals, was a mandatory event.  Conversing with each other at meal time was especially challenging because of all the ambient noise.  After lunch (around 3:30), we were rewarded for our hard work with a 90 minute siesta.  If we were smart, we took naps.  But as it was our only free time, we had to make choices.  A couple of times we just hung out chatting with the other participants and Mara took a little hike into La Alberca.

image
Google Translate says an “alberca” is a pool. It is, but one of the Spaniards told me that it is the kind of pool that an animal drinks out of. Like this one.
image
This is a map of all the historical areas around La Alberca.
image
The pigs are famous around here because some of the best jamón (ham) in Spain is cured here.

image image image image

Okay, siesta over!  Back to work.  Our evenings were a combination of small group community building or problem solving activities, entertainment (and boy was there some good entertainment – can’t post most of those pictures, though!), and more one on one conversations.  Everything was extremely well planned and implemented by our program director, Sergio. No time was wasted and every activity had a specific purpose.  Our master of ceremonies, Allan, was not only dynamic and fun, but an amazing motivator and encourager to the Spaniards and Anglos alike.

image
One night each country group represented at La Alberca 951 had to sing something that was representative of their area. This was the only time the Spaniards could speak (or sing) in Spanish the entire week. They blew us away with their enthusiasm.
image
One of our group activities was a photo scavenger hunt.

Dinner was at 9 pm, usually followed by social time that for the Spaniards continued way into the wee hours.  The middle-aged expats from Ecuador tried to make it to midnight!  There were a couple of “party nights” and Mara made it to 1 am but rumor has it many didn’t make it to bed until three or four.  We don’t know how they do it!

image
The first night of Spaniard/Anglo entertainment, Mara was part of a play with another Anglo and two Spaniards.

So who goes to Pueblo Inglés?  As we mentioned earlier, the Spaniards that do the program are mainly there to make themselves more employable or to advance in their careers.  Some of their employers actually foot the bill.  There were IT and logistics professionals, executives from multinational corporations, managers, personal assistants, architects, a brand new flight attendant, a pilot, a dentist, etc. and a few were looking for jobs.  Their ages ranged from mid 20s to mid 50s.

The native English speakers came from the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, and the Netherlands.  Quite a few were expats living in Spain, Italy and Ecuador (us!)  Some were traveling through Europe for extended periods of time.  The youngest Anglo was just 19 and the oldest was “somewhat older”!  Most of us were middle aged.  Quite a few participants had been part of previous Pueblos Inglés programs.

image
This was almost the entire group of La Alberca 951 (in the main plaza of La Alberca). We were just about ready to have a lunch of suckling pig!

Of course, this post has been just a tiny snapshot of the our Pueblo Inglés experience.  Meeting and becoming friends with 44 people in a week that was dedicated to communication was an extremely significant event in our lives.  Would we do it again?  YOU BET!  Is it something you might consider?  If so, be sure to go to http://www.diverbo.com and read more about it and check out their schedule of Pueblo Inglés and Englischhausen (Germany) events.  Maybe a trip to Spain or Germany is in your future.

What have we learned:  How to say “Grathiath”, “Adioth”, and “Ethpaña”.

What do we need to learn:  How to say “Gracias, Adios, and España!

Next post:  Pictures and experiences from the rest of our time in Spain – more from La Alberca, Madrid, Toledo and CUENCA, Spain!

Thanks for reading to the end.  Here are your bonus pictures for being tenacious!

image
I haven’t dressed like this since our last winter in Alaska. It was above freezing but there was a biting wind most of the days.
image
The jamón from the La Alberca pigs was incredible. Spanish jamón is NOTHING like American ham. It’s cured for a really long time, isn’t refrigerated, is sliced very thinly, and is now my favorite type of pork!

 

 
 
image
Paula was just recently hired as a flight attendant. She couldn’t be more thrilled. Her newly improved English is going to help her so much.
image
Chris (US) and Sylvia (New Zealand) unaware they are being photo bombed by Glenn and Mara (those are my fingers!)
image
Mara learning the fine art of slicing jamón. No fingers were lost in this endeavor.

 

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Diverbo Pueblo Inglés – La Alberca, Spain

  1. Nice descrption of the Diverbo experience Mara! It was a big experience indeed and I’m glad to have shared it with wonderful people like you and Glen. ❤

    Like

    1. Hi Sara – thanks so much for reading the blog and your feedback. It was difficult describing our experience at Pueblo Ingles because there was so much that was significant to us that might just be boring to others. But hopefully, I got the idea across! Hope all is well in Italy.

      Like

  2. Thanks for reading, Joel. Life in America is not so boring but it sure is more expensive! We couldn’t do these things if we had to pay American prices to live.

    Like

  3. Very interesting, will have to make sure Bette checks this out. We have talked about Spain and or Germany. Might be fun.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s