Monday, June 11, 2012

What a an incredible adventure this has been. This past weekend all 6 of us girls went to Guatemala. Astrid, one of our brilliant professors, basically set the whole thing up for us. We first took a bus from Belmopan (which is the capital of Belize and we are living on the outskirts of it) to the boarder. It was super hot and sweaty but easy and cheap. From the last stop we had to take a taxi about two or three miles down the road and walk through customs and across the boarder. Which by the way was surprisingly easy, like pay the exit fee and walk out the other side. Waiting to pick us up was Luis who was suggested to us by Astrid. He picked us up and drove us to Flores. I have to tell you if you are EVER in Guatemala stay in Flores. It is actually an island (on a lake) and is absolutely beautiful. It is not very big, easily walk able and is surrounded by a beautiful little boardwalk. We stayed at hotel Sabana ( I highly recommend it) and ate dinner both nights at Cool Beans cafĂ©. Possibly the most chill restaurant I have ever been in. There were hammocks you could sit in and all kinds of crazy decorations. So that night we just walked around, went to the top of the hill in the center and saw the church and some Stelae that were in the little park thing they had, did a little shopping around and went to bed.

The next day we got up at about the usual time and we schedueled for a van to pick us up at 6:30 or so to take us to Tikal. We got there around 8 and went right it. The site is HUGE! And we walked up and around to start at Temple 4 which is the tallest and the place where they shot the Star Wars rebble base from. It was so increadible and at the bottom we saw howler monkeys and spider monkeys in an battle. Just to let everyone know spider monkeys may look cute but they are the bullies of the jungle. They will chase and harass and corner the howlers and grab and shake or the branches they are on so they will fall off. But they are big scardy cats because if they get too close the howlers will grab their tails and throw them off the tree. We spent a lot of time watching them and it was like being IN a nat geo exclusive. One of the spider monkeys was going along chasing the howler and it stopped right above us looked down and pointed at us!! You could just here him saying “Your next…” We continued on soon after that.

From there we made our way through the other complex’s eventually to Temple 1 and 2, which are the most famous. We climbed temple 2 right away and looked at the whole plaza from above which was totally awesome. We had lunch up at the top and took a little nap. When we were up there about 8 belizeans came up and were holding a camera and kind of glancing at us so I asked if they wanted me to take their picture and they said yes. So I got their camera and they all went and sat around the rest of my group. And the girls started to get up and they were like no sit we want a picture with the gringas. So I took the photo and they scurried away, so that was an interesting.

After lunch we went down the temple and then went back to the visitors center and arranged for Katrina, Evelyn and I to Zipline through the jungle. It was sooooo cool. I was totally freaked out for the first couple of lines but you are always attatched and when your actually going its super awesome. On the first platform we were going over how to do it and about three Spider monkeys came right above us, about 10 feet away and tried to intimidate us. They grab as many branches they can and shake them vigorously. They are all talk because if you just gesture at them they back off. After that it was pretty peaceful. There are 9 lines and you could flip upside down or hang from your back and fly through like superman but I just did it the regular way every time. But Katrina loved going upside down and they both did the superman. After ziplineing we went back, met up with the other girls, and went back to Flores.

The next morning Luis drove us back to the boarder and we got through super easily, again, and got back on the bus. The problem was that most of the staff were down south at the beach and the one truck available only hold a couple people in the cab, but mostly there was a lot of miscommunication and so basically we got off at the West star which is the 24 hour gas station at the start of the access road to Banana Bank and had no transportation from there. We had no cash left for a taxi so we bought some snakes put on our sneakers and walked the 5 miles in. It really wasn’t a bad walk at all, and on the plus side we did get through all 99 versus of 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. Check that off the bucket list! Ellie felt horrible but she thought we were getting off at a completely different stop and totally missed that we didn’t have money left. All in all it was really just character building.

More to come very soon!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hello folks!! So heres the breakdown of this weekend.

Friday: We worked very hard all day long. It was the first day at new sites for four of us. I moved to Haats Kaab and it was great! In stead of a vary large site with 25 2x2m squares there is only 7 1x2m squares so its a trench. There was more wind and less Dr. Flys which are the worst and bite a lot. BUT after work we got a ride with a friend Kenny to Belize city and took the water taxi to Caye Ambergris. We got there in the evening and walked right by our hotel the first time which was newly renovated and very nice, but super cheap! That night we just showered and got dinner at the hotel. 

Saturday we could not sleep in past 7 so we were up and ready to explore, we took our time getting ready and walked around the island. It was rainy off and on all day but we enjoyed ourselves regardless. That afternoon we got in our bathing suites and went down to the beach. I tried to snorkel but there was really nothing right off the beach so I decided to join Katrina and Evelyn and paddle board. Turns out its super fun! and a really great ab work out. The wind was blowing really hard and just as soon as you would make a little progress you would be blown away. The best part of paddle boarding was that TWO boats stopped and gave us free beers! We are soo cool. Obviously. So we just sat on our boards and floated in a few piers down and walked back. Kids: Remember if the current is to strong swim diagonally back to the shore, even if it is further away from your parents. Thank you Safety Day.

That night we got pizza for dinner and then went to a club called Jaguar. We met up with our friend Roberto who was the bartender at our hotel and we all had a lovely time. But word to the wise, going out in San Pedro at 11 is early, 1230 1 is when it gets really busy. We were out until 4 dancing our booties off. Top night.

Sunday morning we got up and grabbed breakfast quickly because we wanted to catch the boat back to the mainland, where we met up with David, our tour guide for cave tubing. Best sunday ever! You spend about 40 min walking up a very nice groomed path through the jungle. Then you get to the right part of the river and everyone sits in their tubes and links up feet under the armpits of the person in front of you. David is in the front and steers us through and points out with his headlamp formations. We stopped at one point and got off and walked into the crystal cave and saw giant stalagmites and stalactites that sparkle. The fresh water that runs in that cave is so clean from the crystal limestone its drinkable. We also took some time and jumped off a tall rock into the clear waters. Tons of fun and totally worth the time. We crashed hard when we got back to Banana Bank.

This week I worked more at Haats Kaab and then Wednesday I started doing work at Kax Tsabil (which in mayan means fried chicken, Adam named it.....its his favorite food...) It is an incredible site! Right now we are working to uncover a trench that goes up a pyramid, it is sooo cool! We have tomorrow off and that makes it a long weekend for us. So we are going to Guatemala to go to the famous site Tikal which is truely a wonder of the world and will be back sunday afternoon. Hopefully I will write more there but if not I will write on sunday!

Missing you all at home!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Today was chalk full of adventures. For starters this morning when we tried to start Big Red (the car we take to our site Ik'nal every 6) decided that she wasn't going to start, so we did a little jump starting. We get on our way make it to the "access road" also know as off rodeing. Because of the rain the "road" is pretty wet and muddy so stopping is not ever a good idea. So we stop to be yelled at by a farmer to not hurt his lime tree (which we do know the location of) and turn off the car....So the truck (with Adam, Saturo, Mr. Pow, and Jamie) had to turn around rejump us, reverse up the road a little ways, park, and we had to walk the rest of the way in. This road all the way to the site usually takes 12 minutes and it took us about 25. 

So we get to the site, ready to get digging and find out the we have the wrong ipad (which is where we log all our data). Wha whaaaaaa. It is just one crazy thing after the other, Murphys law was in full swing in the Belize Jungle today. 

Then we are getting in the swing of things, a few of us are screening the dirt that the others are digging up and we hear this growing buzzing sound and we all freeze because it is a swarm of killer bees that are on patrol, luckily they were far enough away and didnt notice us and didnt come back. 

The day was very very hot, I sweat a lot. But we excavated some really cool things. We have opened up 4 of the 25 3 meter by 3 meter squares which yields a ton of dirt so it keeps the screens busy, but we found the wall of a circular structure which is really cool!! AND I FOUND BONEEEEEE, I mean it was  a piece about 3cm long or so but still, I found it! Literally a dream come true. Mr. Pow also found a conch shell!! Which is SUPER sweet and made Ellie (my professor) ecstatic.

Lunch however was a bit of a let down. Every day we bring our lunch in lunchboxes that the kitchen here at Banana Bank prepares for us. Well today the red fire ants found our lunches first. They ravaged our tuna salad sandwiches and I was able to salvage my sticky bun and a bit of watermelon and some people didnt save anything. So we all shared lots of cashews, beef jerkey, granola bars, and plantain chips that people brought for themselves. 

The day ended pretty well we brought back something like 15 artifact bags. Starting Big Red again didnt go so well however. Even with jumper cables she just wouldnt start. She went to the shop yesterday and was diagnosed with electrical problems. So the boys switched the batteries from Big Red and the truck and were finally able to get it started. We made it home safe, but late, seeing a snake slithering across the road on our way. Since then it has been pretty uneventful.

This weekend we are going to the Caye (Key) Ambergrise which will be a ton of fun. And will hopefully give me the internet to post photos of things!!! Talk with you all soon!

P.S. Tricia I hope you get up to Canada safely and I am excited to read your bloggggg. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

"96 degrees out" Mr. Pow (a worker and for all intensive purposes Forman) told me today. My first day "out in the field" but whats important to remember about that is there its probably about 95% humidity. Needless to say I had a fantastically hot day. It was the first day of digging and getting down and dirty. And boy did we get dirty. Like seriously had dirt ALL over my body, and all that sweat just makes you extra sticky so the dirt really clings right on. The sun is very hot and through I applied many layers of sunscreen ( Mom really I swear I did!!) I managed to be burned on the back of my neck (forgot the first day to screen there so that one was my fault) and on my arms, I automatically win for watch tan lines as well as farmers, and then on my skin belt on my back. Ooops! But I have aloed up, though there does not seem to be the same instant cooling relief. Beyond that I had a fantastic time!! I used a trowel and dug (tediously) around rocks collecting pottery sherds (YES SHERDS, shards are of glass) I also found a couple tiny pieces of Obsidian which was used by the maya for bloodletting and such because it can be quite sharp.

The Banana Bank Lodge has continued to be a wonderful host we are quickly getting to know each of its members. As well as the local workers at the site. All in all, Belizeans are extremely friendly and wonderful people.

As for the wildlife no more snakes (yet) and I have had a tiny tick that was pulled off easily, it wasn't all the way in yet. I have yet to be bitten by a mosquito but there are a TON of little flies that like to bite right down and the seem little repelled by both the deep woods off or the 100% deet. The jungle is quite an exciting place and I will write more later. It is only 9 o'clock here and I am ready to drop. 5 am starts to come pretty quickly. Also I will work on photos but there are weird limitations on uploading and downloading things on this internet so I will post hopefully one here and there but they might just have to go up once I return home.

Hopefully get a chance to go into more detail about everything later but for now,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hello from the Jungle!!

I had two safe and easy flights, Boston to Houston and Houston to Belize. A local man named Dave drove us to Banana Bank Lodge which is where we are staying. It really great! I will post picture asap but just saying....we have a Jaguar... It is living and beautiful and caged so no worries there. We have already seen a snake and had it killed.

For dinner we had DELICIOUS burritos, rice, and salad. Everything here is very beautiful and we (the 6 of us girls in the group) are really excited to see one of the sites we will be working on tomorrow. But for now it has been a long day (it started at 4) and I am now going to crash!

Talk to you all soon enough! (with pictures!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hello hello hello,

I am sure there is no one reading this at this point, and I am so sorry that I fell through with writing this past fall. However I have a second chance to redeem myself, because tomorrow I will start my month in Belize! It is a study abroad program through my school. There are 6 of us girls in the program and we will be learning about and doing archaeology. Internet is limited but I will post as often as I can and about as much as I can. Sometimes they will be short so I don't overwhelm myself but ill try to fill those out with photos. I hope everyone is finishing up their 2011-2012 school year and kicking off your summers right, I know I am.

Write to you all soon!