Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Catching Up: Last Week

Monday night it rained. Monday morning I woke up to darkness and the sound of more rain. At breakfast the staff declared a rain day, and we stayed at Hode’s watching documentaries in the morning and doing lab work (aka washing ceramics) in the afternoon. It poured for three solid hours before slacking off, though by lunchtime it was starting to be clear and we began to worry they would send us out to the field after all in the afternoon. But they didn’t, and even let us go early. I think it was pretty much the best work day of the month: no excavation, fun stuff and relatively enjoyable work, early dismissal, and beautiful weather in the afternoon and evening when we’re free. Several of us went to town and did some shopping and browsed the “henna” tattoo options at the “mall”, which is about five shops in a little building next to Cayo’s only movie theater.

Several of us had already planned to go out to dinner that night, and happy hour is conveniently at the same bar/restaurant, so we went early. I like banana daiquiris. The restaurant, which is called Mr. Greedy’s, is very Americanized and has very good pizza and allegedly the best burgers in town, although if that is true I think I will just abstain from burgers until I get back to the States.

After dinner, we went to Mana Kai Camping Cabins, which is the other place where BVAR students (mostly the boys) are being housed and which is a really good place to hang out because they have a giant yard, with several hammocks under a pavilion, and a fire pit with a picnic table next to it. It’s down the street from Midas, on the other side of Hode’s. Christopher* had promised us a fire and s’mores, and even though the closest thing he could find to graham crackers wasn’t very good and the chocolate ran out quickly, it was still a great idea. I had to explain s’mores to Sam and Flex (Felicia), who are Australian and English respectively, and later watched Sam excitedly teach Alex, another Aussie, how to make them. It’s interesting that they’re getting kind of a double cultural experience, since they’re in Belize with a group of mostly American students. Several people now live in the U.S. but are originally from somewhere else, but I think the two Brits, the two Aussies, and Chris are the only students who actually live somewhere else.

Anyway, Monday was probably the most fun evening I’ve had, too.

Tuesday it was back to the field, and I was assigned once again to the vertical test pits. Fortunately, it was only a half day, and also fortunately, I was not made to get into the pit, which was more than three meters deep. That afternoon we had a tour of Cahal Pech [“Place of Ticks”], which is the site that’s literally in San Ignacio, up on top of the hill. It’s basically Jaime’s baby, where he’s worked on something almost every excavation season for the last twenty years. I really liked it, because it was very different from the other sites we’ve seen—everything is very compact, and there are lots of tunnels and passageways and small enclosed courtyards. Someone later compared it to a medieval castle, which I thought was pretty apt.

There were two bad things about the trip to Cahal Pech:
1) I had decided that morning that I was getting sick, and by midafternoon I really just wanted to be done and go back to Midas.
2) Tabitha fell down the stairs on our way up to the site, and Alex caught her before she broke her ankle, but she still sprained it pretty badly.

On Wednesday I felt like crap, mostly just because when I get sick I get ridiculously tired. Unfortunately, I was on excavation again. I screened for a while, and then I couldn’t do it anymore and mostly just sat next to the trench until lunch. After lunch I did some trowel work, but still wasn’t terribly useful. It was a very long, very unpleasant day, culminating in the post-dinner lecture that I could barely sit through because all I wanted to do was go to sleep, which was a shame because it was about osteology and I would have liked to at least appear interested even though most of it was a review for me.

Thursday I was still sick but I was working in the lab, which wasn’t so bad. Ditto for Friday, which was a shortened day anyway because after work was the annual staff vs. students soccer game at the field across from Hode’s. Staff won**, but by a less painful margin than I’d expected. That night after dinner there was a big party at Hode’s, since it was the two-week students last official night. I did not drink and left early since I was still sick, but there was entertainment aplenty.

Up next: The ridiculous weekend.

* A handsome history-geek osteology student who dresses like Indiana Jones and is living proof that some people really do live in the Yukon. He’s the only guy here I’ve actually forged a friendship with.
** Obviously, since they had Jaime and several Belizean workers on their side.
Here’s a conversation from before the game:
Jill (one of the field supervisors): Our team is stacked with Belizeans. I think we might have the advantage.
Joe, a student, to David, another student: Do you play soccer?
David: In, like, middle school.
Joe: Well, we have Gabe… And I’m not terrible…

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