We just returned from our first Field Lab and we are so pumped about how the day went! First, let me explain what a Field Lab is. One of the wonderful things about SAS is that you have the opportunity to experience the things that you are learning about, or in our case teaching, in class. Each class is required to have a Field Lab, where we literally take our students out in the "field" and give them hands on experience in a country on the voyage. The Field Lab is a total of 8 contact hours with the students where we are lecturing, learning and experiencing the theatrical culture of a particular country or city.
First Geno and I went to the gym and explored our port, Gexto (GEH-choh) which is about 30 minutes from Bilbao. This little town is an old fishing village and is packed with charm and beautiful oversized homes that look like castles. We walked up a million steps to reach the top and for the first time we felt fully immersed in a culture. No English menus, no English speakers and no SAS students (they all had headed to Bilbao). We went into a restaurant and I asked "Habla Ingles?" or "Do you speak English?" he shook his head no and we took it from there. He had another woman help us and we picked a few pintxos. This is one of the most popular local customs in the Basque country. This entails going from bar to bar having a zurito (a small beer) or a txikito (small wine) accompanied by pintxos which is basically the Basque word for tapas. The bars and cafés have the pintxos sitting out on the counter and you point to what you want. This is a great way to order…just don't worry about what you are getting and point to foods that look good. You can get as many bites as you wish and then you move on to the next café. Brilliant way to eat. We had a blast experiencing this tradition and then we headed back to the ship to prep for our Field Lab.
We met our students in a classroom and I gave a very brief lecture on Spanish theater history and Geno gave an informative lecture about about the theatre we would be going to, and the plot of the show we were going to see. See, the tricky thing was that the show was in Spanish so we had to do our best to prepare the 25 students for this experience.
After the lecture we boarded our bus to Bilbao where we met the most famous tour guide EVER! Her name is Maria. As we drove she told us all about the history of the Basque Country and Bilbao. When we arrived in Bilbao she took us the oldest part of Bilbao where we did a walking tour of some interesting sights. She was so patient with the students and so informative. We then went to a local restaurant and had total of 6 plates of pintxos each. There were some REALLY tasty ones and then some suspicious ones but we just tried all of them and tried not to ask what we were eating. We did find out later that one was foie gras (goose liver paté)….well, there is a first. You just gotta go for it!
After dinner we walked over to the Arriaga Theatre a Neo-Baroque theatre that was one of the most beautiful that we had seen. The students were AMAZED! Some of them had never been to a show before, and we were honored to be the first to take them. We had talked about the plot to the show beforehand, but it was still difficult to follow because of the language barrier. Our students did a wonderful job of being attentive. After the show we had a talk back with the actresses (with a translator). This is a company of 5 females that consistently perform together and they were so generous to stay after and talk to us. Our students asked wonderful questions and the actresses commented on how attentive and alert they were. YEAH! We made our way back to Gexto on the bus and the Maria filled us in on the plot points we missed. Now we are home and so relieved that it went well. One big event to check off the list. We can't wait to discuss their reactions in class on our way to Scotland!