In the April 2011 issue of R&R Travel News®, we wrote of our wonderful experiences with VaughanTown, an English language conversation immersion program where we enjoyed a week at a resort with four-star accommodation, dined on gourmet meals with unlimited top Spanish wines, gazed at magnificent scenery and met delightful Spaniards—all for free! We concluded that article by mentioning that there is another similar program called Pueblo Ingles (now renamed Diverbo), but up to that time, we had not yet tried this program.
We just returned home from another Space-A trip to Spain where, for the first time, we participated in a Diverbo program and can now tell the readers about it. Like the first program, this one also began and ended in Madrid and it is up to the participants to make their way to and from there (including hotel)—once the program begins, it is all “on the house”. After checking into our Madrid hotel, we dashed off to Diverbo’s welcome lunch.
We were impressed! The Diverbo staff showed their appreciation to the Anglo “volunteers” coming from far and wide to help Spaniards learn English by treating us to a lavish meal, followed by an exciting classical Flamenco music and dance show. From this moment, we knew that the week ahead would be fantastic!
Next morning, we boarded Diverbo’s brightly painted private bus for a five-hour journey south to Andalucia’s province of Jaen (“HA-EN”), passing endless olive tree groves (the province provides 30 percent of the world’s olive oil). We turned off the main highway on to a narrow winding road into spectacular craggy mountains and forests, passing through the little town of Cazorla, an important center for sports hunting. Finally, we arrived at our luxury resort of Coto del Valle — our home for the next eight days.
Not only does the resort have a Michelin-starred chef but the program itself introduced us to interesting people from all over the world. In only a few days, we found ourselves making lasting bonds and becoming close friends with wonderful Spaniards who we hope to see again. Unlike our three previous English conversation programs (with VaughanTown), this one lasted an extra two days, affording us some additional pleasurable and relaxing experiences (the English conversation programs are “work”!).
Besides the usual presentations by and individual conversations with Spaniards, both of us participated in outrageously funny skits in the evening. A quiz night (Carole’s team won!) and a delightful excursion to nearby fascinating Cazorla (with its surprising Moroccan heritage), were particularly enjoyable. We found Diverbo’s program to be extremely well-organized and efficiently structured, and we appreciated the professionalism of our two wonderful facilitators. Further, they were creative and energetic which made the Coto del Valle program our favorite to date. Incidentally, while there was a general strike in Spain during our stay, this had no effect on us at all as our hotel staff all cheerfully came to work, taking very good care of us.
Saying goodbye with hugs and kisses, we reluctantly left the beautiful, pristine mountain region of Jaen Province. This off-the-beaten path area of Spain certainly ranks among the most stunning scenery we have seen (and experienced) in the Iberian Peninsula.
If readers have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Col. Marv Feldman, USAF, (Ret.)
and Carole Feldman
Reprint from Jul–Aug 2013 • Volume 43, No. 4