Dreaming in Spanish

The gardens of the Alcazar in Sevilla

A few years ago, an acquaintance who had recently returned from a holiday in Spain assured me that I didn’t need to see that country until I had exhausted my travel bucket list. “Nothing there,” she said, “that you can’t see elsewhere in Europe.”

I went anyway as a volunteer English speaker.

A bus load of us, roughly half Anglos and half Spaniards, were brought together to inhabit Pueblo Ingles for eight days of English-only conversation in a mountain resort outside La Alberca. We came from all walks of life. Among us there was a doctor, a college professor, a meteorologist, a travel writer, a few teachers working and retired, and a host of business professionals. We were mothers, fathers, single, newly married, facing divorce. We ranged from young global wanderers to a spunky eighty-something Irish woman, also a global wanderer. Two of us were British ex-pats who had years before chosen to live in Spain.

We Anglos were all looking for the opportunity to give back something while experiencing the vibrance of Spain and its people. The Spaniards were earnest in their determination to improve their English speaking skills, and we Anglos were charged with that responsibility.

Monument to La Alberca’s pig

During those eight days we ate every meal together. We partied together. We watched futbol, Madrid vs. Barcelona. We planned and delivered presentations, we acted in skits, and played games. We talked about everything from the mundane, the weather (Please don’t take that personally, Sebastian), to the vital: raising children, helping ailing parents, working too hard, maintaining and ending relationships, making career decisions. We laughed every day. Ostensibly we Anglos had come to volunteer, but truthfully, like our Spanish counterparts, we too had come to learn.

I learned that Spaniards are justifiably proud of their towns, cities and regions; and since that time at Pueblo Ingles with the big hearted Spaniards who came together there, I have had a dream. I dream of returning to Spain and renting a small villa for one or two months in Valencia or Jerez. I want to see the dancing horses and the white-washed cities. I want to see more Flamenco and hear the guitar. I want to visit every cathedral, I want to go to Basque Country and San Sebastian. I want to go to Cordoba, Toledo, Cuenca, Malaga, Avila; and

The walled city of Avila seen from the highway.

I want to see everything in each of those places. I want to see a bull fight and a football match. I want to drink the wine, eat the ham, sip the sherry, enjoy the tapas, and drizzle good Spanish olive oil on everything possible. I want to walk the Camino de Santiago. I want to go to Gibraltar and see a huge ship pass through the straits. I want to return to the Alhambra, and take in the sweet scent of Seville’s gardens. I want to seek out every crazy Spanish festival and so much more.

Because there is so much more to Spain. From its history and culture to its stunning architecture and natural features to its beautiful language and its generous people; there are so many things not to be found anywhere else in the world or Europe for that matter.