SCRAP 2018 Week 1: Small Beginnings

This past week (May 14-18) was our first full week at site. We arrived early Monday morning and met with our Foreman and some of the local crew members who would be working with us (the remaining to join us next week).

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Chopping trails into the site

We got to work on identifying our excavation areas for the season—in the monumental core and in the settlement—clearing structures of low brush, exterminating the accumulated population of mosquitoes, and setting up excavation units.

We also had to dig out some of our previous excavations, where we are adding an extension excavation to expose an enigmatic feature encountered at the end of the 2016 season.

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Digging out old excavations, exposing tarp-covered feature at the bottom.

We occasionally took breaks under palms to enjoy a Happy Cow Happy Hour.

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Happy Cow Happy Hour!

During the week we also caught up with friends in the village, met with the principal of the local school to discuss future collaborations—he even brought the teachers out to visit the site later in the week—and met the new Alcalde (village leader) to talk about the project, future directions, and future community engagement initiatives. It was a really great start to the season.

On Friday, while field assistants finished setting up shelters over the excavations, we headed to Dangriga where we met with the head of the Stann Creek House of Culture to discuss our other new collaborations and future directions; then to the property manager’s office to drop off a copy of our 2018 excavation permit; stopped in Belmopan for some delicious Jamaican food (goat curry and oxtail); and finally back to San Ignacio to pick up the van for the students, and to spend an evening with friends.

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Delicious Jamaican food

Saturday morning we caught a bit of the Royal Wedding on TV, then headed to the airport and collected all of the students and some staff (see website section on Project Members)—all arrived safe and sound (some with more baggage than others… Megan). Other staff and researchers will be joining us in two and three-weeks’ time. We headed back to Stann Creek, settled and fed the students, then it was an early night to bed.

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Students housed and fed

Sunday was spent touring our field camp; hearing lectures about the community and nearby wildlife sanctuary from the Maya couple who host us; learning more about the Alabama project and plans for this season and the future; presenting the Final Examination Challenge to the students (and public outreach initiative); setting up our new lab; and some team building activities.

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Our new amazing lab–built special for us!

With respect to this latter, we would like to formally introduce the world to our excavation teams: “Chulche”, “Ixtuculil”, and the ”Plumb Bobbettes”!

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Excavation teams

Until next week, cheers from Belize!

Meaghan and Shawn