So I signed up back in June with a company called TECS to teach English to Spanish kids in a summer camp during July. I made my farewells to my friends in Madrid and set off for a town called El Puerto de Santa Maria, near Cadiz, for a week´s training. A slightly overgrown sleepy Spanish seaside village, El Puerto did seem like a rather obscure place to put the headquarters of an international language academy. But as it happened, I was only there for a few days before those of us who were assigned to the 'adventure camp' moved onsite to our new home for the next four weeks.
If El Puerto seemed obscure, nothing could have prepared me for El Chorro. While it did have that certain rustic charm that often goes with mountain campsites, the place, frankly, could have made Pine Creek look like a bustling metropolis. It basically consisted of a campsite (which we took over entirely for the four weeks), a train station, a large green lake, 3 bars (!?) and a hydro-electric power plant.
Apart from the green lake, the scenery was quite spectacular. During the winter when the site isn´t overrun by small children, El Chorro is a basecamp for mountain climbing enthusiasts who come to scale the large and impressive mountains that surround the lake.
As you might expect, the place was not without its share of colourful characters, many of whom seem to have used a GPS to locate the diametric middle of nowhere and headed straight there to open a bar. My favourite was the seventy-something year-old Isobel, who excused herself from serving us for a moment to take a swipe at a passing cockroach with her bare hand, and then went back to pouring beers. Or possibly Maribel, who ran possibly the most ironicly named convenience store in Western Europe. I think I saw it open for business twice in four weeks.
''And what of the camp itself?'' I imagine myself hearing you ask. Well, the thing about a camp like this is that it´s really only the very wealthy families who can afford to send their kids along. And Spanish families, especially well-to-do ones, really do like to dote on their children. So, basically we were taking about a hundred spoilt Spanish brats, stranding them in the mountains, forcing them to speak English and serving them camp food for two weeks. Then backing up and doing it all again.
Of course, the kids had a great time in the afternoons, doing all the usual camp stuff; archery, kayaking, high ropes and all that, but somehow being the guy teaching English classes for three hours in the morning didn´t endear me to the kids much.
Oh well, it´s all behind me now. Now I sit here in an internet cafe in Malaga with five weeks´pay in my pocket and figure out where I´m going to go next.
Far from home
Garry with 2 Rs