If you’re reading this review, you’re probably reading the others here, too. From our personal experiences, every glowing comment about El Cuélebre is absolutely true!
We are a retired couple from Arizona, USA, and have just ended 2 incredible weeks studying... read moreIf you’re reading this review, you’re probably reading the others here, too. From our personal experiences, every glowing comment about El Cuélebre is absolutely true!
We are a retired couple from Arizona, USA, and have just ended 2 incredible weeks studying Spanish, and at the same time experiencing Asturias, with Alfredo and Jimena — El Cuélebre’s owners, teachers, hiking guides, and so much more — at their quaint little pueblo of La Peral in the Somiedo Natural Park. It was an astounding time, one of the best of our lives.
First, the teaching and language immersion. We had Spanish classes with Alfredo twice a day. These were entertaining and culturally informative lessons tailored to our individual needs. Learning continued outside of class during hikes, trips, and meals, with both Alfredo and Jimena gently correcting our mistakes and elaborating on grammatical points when we didn’t fully understand. There were lively discussions about Spanish history and culture, current events in Spain, and the natural and human history of Asturias.
Alfredo and Jimena are both exceptional Spanish teachers, not only because they know so well how to teach it, but also because they have worked hard themselves to learn English (and other languages). They understand what students struggle with, and why, and how problems are best addressed. They know what’s needed to continue progressing toward fluency in a new language. They advised us on the best ways we can be permanent students at home (websites, periodicals, music, radio, TV, etc.). After two intense weeks, we thought that our Spanish had improved significantly, especially listening comprehension and speaking. It’s important to say, though, that they are flexible teachers, and they can/will tailor the intensity to the interests and desires of their students.
The main “extracurricular” activity was hiking. We’ve hiked in many stunning parts of the U.S. and Mexico. Honestly, though, the most breathtakingly beautiful spot we’ve experienced is Asturias! Jimena and/or Alfredo took us hiking everyday, except for two one-day driving excursions (see below). Each hike was unique, and special in some way. Several passed through traditional, centuries-old brañas, still worked today and populated by congenial Asturian cattle. (The hills are, indeed, alive with the sound of music from the multi-toned bells the cows wear.) Because Jimena has worked for an NGO that is dedicated to the conservation of the Asturian brown bear, she really knows both the trails in the Somiedo Natural Park and the natural history of the park.
On the two days we didn’t hike, Jimena and Alfredo took us on car excursions. The first included a visit to a cave with prehistoric paintings, a “comida” at a traditional Asturian restaurant in a small town, a walk down to a beautiful beach on the coast, and a stroll into a charming fishing village. The second excursion was to the impressive city of Oviedo and environs, and then to some spectacular sites in an adjacent natural park and in a remote part of Castile y León.
The food! Jimena is a fantastic cook (Alfredo cooks a pretty mean Spanish tortilla, himself). Each mid-afternoon “comida” was different and delicious, with Spanish wine and great conversation, often in their pergola outdoors, surrounded by the mountains.
Finally, the accommodations are perfect. Alfredo and Jimena added a suite to their house, with its own entrance, just for their students. It’s private, comfortable, plenty spacious, and cozy, with everything you need to feel at home. Best of all, though, are the views from every window — even the one in the shower.
Footnote: This is our third trip to Spain, starting in 2014, with stays ranging from 1 month to 11 weeks. We’ve been in most all the regions. Asturias is our favorite, by far! Yet, although it’s so beautiful and interesting, it’s uncrowded and relatively untouched by foreign tourism. Come here to experience a part of Spain still very much as it was in the past. read less