Our group started our long journey from JFK airport to to Malaga in high spirits. We dined on a scrumptious airport meal before boarding the plane and heading for our new Spanish home. Upon arriving in Barcelona the group passed the time until our next flight by connecting with new friends and bonding over games. After 24 hours of travel we arrived alas; greeted at the Malaga airport by the headmaster of El Alhambra Instituto, Lorenzo, and quickly whisked off to our new home: two roomy Spanish apartments with a rooftop, courtyard with beautiful flowers abound, a pool, and two spacious kitchens!
Upon settling into our new abode we were suddenly invigorated with a newfound sense of energy and promptly set off to explore our surroundings. It was not long before we found ourselves sitting on the patio of a family-run Spanish restaurant peering out over the shore as our waiter piled on plate after plate of fresh caught fish, squid, and other local fare. A special shout out goes to two adventurous souls who ordered and tried an interesting fish and squid dish. Olivia was in awe when our waiter brought out two freshly slain raw fish on a plate in order to answer her question of, “what type of fish is this?” Within 12 minutes the same two fish were cooked and back on the table in front of Olivia. She wasted no time in trying the new dish and although I doubt she will be asking for it when she gets back home it was an enriching experience nonetheless. Our other adventurous eater was Emily who ordered “calamari a la plancha” or grilled squid for the non Spanish speakers out there. Emily relished her calamari exclaiming, “I’ve never tasted a steak seasoned so well!” After dinner and the obligatory ice cream stop it was off to bed to rest up for our first day of school!
The next morning, the school bell rang sharply at 8:30 am and we were ready to greet it! After a short placement test to ascertain each student’s level of Spanish ability, it was time for the first class. All of our students were placed in the same level of classes and continue to take classes as a small group. There are also students from all over the world in the same classes which gives the group a chance to use their Spanish skills to meet people from all over the world including Croatia, Austria, and England. At the end of our first day of classes we walked back to our hostel buying local fruit, vegetables and bread at small corner stores en route. After a delectable “gourmet grilled cheese”, we later fled to the sand to play games and take in the comings and goings of local beach life in Malaga. We relied on our resident Wilderness Ventures guru, Ashley, to help conquer the tasks of meal planning and shopping before heading off to our paella cooking class with headmaster Lorenzo.
Day two of school got our group out of our seats and into a Spanish supermarket sweep led by the boisterous Professora Sandra. Courtney struck up a conversation with a local in an urgent search for the ever elusive luffa. This real world exercise gave the group and opportunity to practice their speaking skills and learn vocabulary while learning to live like a local. We returned home to refuel with homemade chicken caesar salad before embarking on an exploration of the city center of Malaga ending with a tour almighty Alcazaba, an 11th century palatial citadel, and the best preserved in Spain. Helena tactfully used her Spanish to get directions to posh European shops and to purchase souvenirs for family and friends. By the time we reached the top we were greeted by a gorgeous view of the city of Malaga and La Costa del Sol. On the way home we stumbled upon an open air concert; a local musical ensemble performing their greatest hits (in costume no less!). Enlightened by the serendipitous encounter, we skipped happily home to last minute homework and a giddy evening circle on the rooftop terrace.