A few years ago I visited Spain in a unique manner. Pueblo Ingles is a company based in Madrid that teaches English to Spanish speakers. After several years of learning, students are given a trial by fire – they are placed into a situation for a week where they must speak English – no Spanish permitted. To make things more difficult, they need to deal with the accents of Americans, Brits, Aussies, and any other nationality that happens to be represented. This is real life.
If one is able to find transportation to and from Madrid, the company will offer room and board to an English-speaker willing to spend their days talking. On the one hand, this is work, as you are required to do quite a bit of talking, but on the other hand, as you get more familiar with these people, the conversations can drift to sex, religion, and politics. Needless to say, these are topics to which no common tourist would have access, and the possibilities for deeply learning about another culture are tremendous.
I took many pictures while there, but for me the highlight was to attend a bull fight. In an attempt to understand what this was all about, I read Hemmingway’s Death In The Afternoon. There is certainly more to this than simply slaughtering bulls, and I had happened to be in Madrid during a time of festival, where the best bull fighters perform. The entire experience was very foreign to me, but also having spoken with Spaniards about this (some Spaniards are very against bull fighting); I was able to understand and appreciate the display.
The full set of images can be found at Bull Fight Pictures on my website.