Agualivar is very special place. Magical in my memory and in truth I almost don’t want to write this review because I’d like to keep it small and secret. But it deserves more: more than the 5 stars I gave it; more than I can describe in the words allowed for this review. But I’ll try.
Imagine sitting on a terrace overlooking an infinity pool and the Mediterranean Sea with a cup of espresso in front of you and a white board to your right. The other three students gradually find their chairs and Fani stands in front of the whiteboard. It is 9:15 on Monday morning and two really special weeks lie ahead. That is the Agualivar classroom.
The classes themselves are a balance of lecture, exercises, games, presentations by the students to each other, occasional videos (think Antonio Banderas, born nearby), and tongue twisters. Many of the exercises and presentations are related to the region’s culture and history. And of course there are many suggestions for improvement tailored to each of the students.
The days are structured and full: wake up, breakfast, class, break, class, break, lunch, break/siesta, a walk or exploration of the local area, dinner, free time, sleep. ALL IN SPANISH, INCLUDING CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHER STUDENTS!! By the second week, I even dreamed in Spanish!
The “sobremesas” at lunch and dinner along with the daily “paseos” were as important as the classes for actually using Spanish in conversational settings. If you stay for more than a week, the weekends too are opportunities to explore a bit farther away, or just hang out at one of the local chiringuitos.
The food was fantastic and really deserves a review all its own! We often helped set the table and with clean up after, and sometimes with preparation, all the while improving our food and kitchen-related vocabulary.
The home is amazing and my room was spacious, clean and comfortable. The internet was fast. I slept well and felt secure throughout my stay. The house is set among orchards, with fencing, remotely operated gates, and a modern security system. In the afternoons you could hear goats bleating as they returned home from their daytime pastures.
Getting to Agualivar was an adventure. I took the local bus from Málaga and was picked up at the Lagos bus stop. Total round trip cost: about 7 euros. Others took cabs. If you elect to take a cab, I’d recommend organizing through Agualivar so you get a cabbie who knows exactly where he or she is going.
While at Agualivar I felt like part of a very special family. An outgoing and welcoming family that included the other students. A family with enormous pride in this beautiful part of the world, its people, and its many thousands of years of history. Above all, they are fantastic and patient (in my case very patient!) teachers of the Spanish language. If your goal is learning or improving conversational Spanish, I highly recommend Agualivar.
One caveat--this school is fun, but it isn't a "party" school. If you want to spend your week day evenings drinking and dancing, there might be something more suitable in Barcelona or Valencia. But without the magic!