Curry and Spice

Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Dirt and Worms

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2011 at 9:06 am

This summer has been insane to say the least.  Coming back from Jordan and settling in has resulted in my losing more than a few of my marbles, and as someone who’s lacking more than her fair share to begin with, I don’t say that lightly.  In the past week (has it only been a week?) I have started running again, seen Harry Potter, learned to shoot pistols, and finally, finally, found solace in my kitchen again.  We had company join us for the past weekend, and, as the resident go-to dessert girl, I found myself busy and distracted for the first time since I came home.  The change was a blessed relief, and gave me some momentary clarity.

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Travel: Amman Citadel, Coming Home, and Some Changes

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm

On our last day of touring, we stayed within the city of Amman (and had a short jaunt to the west to see another structure), and had a nice late start.  We began our day by driving down to the Roman citadel, which was the initial city of Amman.  The Temple of Hercules resides there, which is so named based on the large statue that was originally there.  All that is left of the statue is a massive hand, as well as a joint (either an elbow or a shoulder).  The citadel is still being excavated, so while we were able to see the Temple of Hercules, the massive cistern, and other aspects of it, it is still unclear how large the site actually was.  I have to confess additionally that, after nine days of seeing Roman sites, I was a little bit Roman-sited-out.  From the citadel, we drove west out of Amman to see another site that was related to a Nabatean occupation and tombs nearby, which had some beautiful carvings of animals (lions and leopards, primarily).  With that, we were officially done touring in Jordan!

We headed back to ACOR to finish putting away our materials from the field, and settled into a long afternoon of doing very little.  I also had nothing to do the next day until my flight left, and as a result, I was able to catch up on journaling (not here, clearly) and finished the last of my books from traveling.  I also had a little bit of time to process everything that we’d done and been through in the past forty days, and was so excited to have been able to enjoy such a unique experience.

Finally, at midnight on the morning of the eleventh, I began my journeys home.  I flew from Jordan to Frankfurt (my flight was delayed out of Amman by forty-five minutes, which meant that I made my flight in Frankfurt by a grand total of ten minutes), then Frankfurt to Chicago, and managed to miss my flight from Chicago to Denver.  Fortunately, United was able to book me on a flight from Chicago to Denver for later that day, so I was still able to arrive home on the 11th, and not at an unreasonable time.  I was also able to call my close friend who’s in Chicago for the summer, and we got to chat, which was really delightful.  I finally made it home to an amazing thunderstorm that essentially shut down DIA shortly after I landed.  About an hour after landing, I was safely with all of my family, with my luggage, on the way home through the greenest downtown Denver that I’ve ever seen (in mid-July, at least).  It was so wonderful to finally be home and to be with my family again.  I have now been settling back in for the past two days, including reclaiming my job and getting all of my paperwork filled out.  The weather here has been incredible – very wet and cool, which for July is extremely unusual.  I got to see my best friend last night for the first time in six months, and while a thunderstorm raged literally overhead, we talked about everything from the past couple of months.  It was so amazing to see her again, and so amazing to be welcomed home by such wonderful people.

Finally, as you may have noticed, I’ve been catching up around here; getting all of my posts up (I will start filling in the picture blanks shortly), and obviously, changing the layout.  I enjoyed the old layout, but feel that this one is actually a lot more fun; it greatly appeals to my fancy-Nancy side.  Look for some food updates soon – we have guests coming this weekend, and I am ready to bake up a storm.

Travel: Petra and Wadi Rum

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

The day after we visited the desert castles, the three of us packed up to do a long drive down to Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as well as Wadi Rum (famous for its ties to Lawrence of Arabia, as well as its amazing climbing possibilities).  It was indeed a long drive to Petra, but we stopped at several sites along the way, which made it feel both longer, but less tortuous.

The first place we stopped to stretch our legs was the Dead Sea – the lowest place on Earth!  As a runner from 6,000 feet, my friend joked that this was indeed very helpful to my running training.  While we were able to see the Sea (hah!), we weren’t able to go down and put our feet in (it apparently costs 20 dinars to do so, although the validity of that is unknown to me).  This was a bit disappointing, but we moved on into the Grand Canyon of Jordan, and any thoughts beyond awe at the geology quickly disappeared.  Again, having been in a basalt desert for thirty days, one tends to lose track of the reality that there are other, incredible rock formations (I’m the daughter of a geologist, what can I say?); seeing this area of Jordan was therefore extremely fun for me.

After our quick stop at the Dead Sea, we headed back up into the hills mountains to Mt. Nebo, the site where Moses may have died.  The site itself is actually very minimal, and, unsurprisingly, was overrun with tourists.  The area is similar to the region near Lake Tiberius, in that it is very Mediterranean, and very beautiful.  I was probably more distracted by the trees and the pretty plants than I was by the importance of site itself.  The site does have some beautiful mosaic floors, however (see a theme?), and that was very enjoyable to see.  From Mt. Nebo, we piled back into the car and drove into Madaba, which is a 50/50 mix of Christians and Muslims, and has a number of (you guessed it!) beautiful mosaics.  We started in the visitor’s center in Madaba, which had several buildings with both mosaic floors and mosaic walls which were in various states of restoration.  We also visited the Church of St. George, or the Church of the Map.  The entire floor was once covered in a mosaic that depicted a map of most of the Middle East.  The parts that are preserved are incredible, and very beautiful.  The church itself is also very nice – it’s a small, Greek Orthodox church, and while I’m not a particularly religious person, there is something soothing to me about being in a church.

In Madaba itself, we enjoyed the company of a carpet merchant (an acquaintance of Gary’s who is Jordanian, but worked in Germany while Gary taught there).  As is typical, I burned my tongue on the tea that was offered, because Gary can drink it down so fast, and I felt obligated to do so as well (which is terribly poor manners, as far as I can tell, but…what can you do).  We had a very tasty lunch again (we ate very similar food everywhere we went, but it was not only delicious, but slightly different everywhere we went, and therefore never got boring).  From Madaba, we drove almost directly south until we reached Wadi Mousa, the town built outside of the archaeological site of Petra.  We stayed in the Edom Hotel, which was very nice and also very reasonable.  They serve a nice continental breakfast, and it is an option to eat dinner there as well, which was a tasty buffet of Arabic food (you do have to pay extra for this).  Before we even settled into our hotel, however, Gary took us to Little Petra, which is an extension of the Nabatean city of Petra.  While it is undoubtedly less glorious than the architecture of Petra, we were unable to even get out of the parking lot before cameras were out and shooting pictures of the amazing geology.  It is all reddish sandstone, and especially in the late afternoon light, everything looked phenomenal.  We slowly made our way into Little Petra, which has several smaller tombs, and a number of small carvings.  The tombs themselves are beautiful, as is the geology all around.  I have not been to either Arches or the Grand Canyon, but I can’t even imagine that they compare to the beauty of the geology at Petra.  After walking around Little Petra, we took a short walk to a Neolithic site, which was interesting, but nothing compared to what we had just seen.  We were accompanied by a young Bedouin boy, however, and he was very friendly and entertaining.

The next morning, bright and early, we set out for the site of Petra.  The benefit to our hotel was that we could walk directly into Petra.  Inside Petra, it is optional to ride horses or donkeys to the sites.  If you can, I highly, highly recommend walking (and doing it when the sun is low is incredible both in terms of lighting, but is also important to beat the heat).  Walking allows you to explore at your own pace and to take as many pictures as you desire (or not, if you don’t want to…).  We headed down the Siq, the main pathway into Petra, which has a number of small carvings.  These include depictions of a camel caravan, of gods, and also includes two water troughs or channels, which were used to bring moisture down into the city itself.  As I said, being the daughter of the geologist, I was most struck by the intense beauty of the narrow rock walls above us, although I was not immune to the beauty of the early carvings we were seeing.  As we came out of the Siq, however, it was immediately apparent that we hadn’t seen anything yet.  At the end of the Siq, you can peek through and see the Treasury, which is one of the most (if not the most) photographed tomb in Petra.  Called the Treasury because it was originally thought to contain gold, it is actually an old tomb, which has unbelievable Nabatean columns.  The entire building is carved out of the sandstone, and carved back into the mountain to allow a chamber for the tomb.  It was truly one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen.

As we continued down through the City of the Dead, we saw more tombs that were exquisite, but none that quite compared to the Treasury.  Finally, we reached the stairs to climb to the High Place, which gives you an incredible view of the entire wadi.  We slowly climbed stair after stair (proving at least to me how out of shape I was) until we reached what we thought was the top, which undoubtedly had an incredible view.  After some looking around, we climbed a little higher, and ultimately scrambled up to the actual High Place, which did yield an incredible view.  We climbed back down, and headed into the City of the Living, which showed a greater Roman influence, as it was occupied by the Romans for a time.  We progressed down through the City of the Living and turned off to go climb up to the Monastery, which is the other very notable structure in Petra.  A slightly longer climb, we were feeling very tired by the time we reached the top.  We suddenly turned a corner, and in front of us was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen – the Monastery, in all its glory.  It was not only well worth the climb, but it was indubitably awe-inspiring.  I was literally speechless and shocked at how amazing it was, which generally summed up my entire experience in Petra.

After climbing down from the Monastery, we ate lunch before heading to see the Petra church, which also has some incredible mosaic flooring.  We finished up by seeing more tombs within Petra, each of which was lovely and incredible.  Some of them had sandstone that had formed in a number of different colors (which I’d never seen, and am incredibly curious about), which was astonishingly beautiful.  We walked back out of the Siq very slowly, as it was hot, and we were tired and out of water.  Generally, tourists don’t do both the High Place and the Monastery in one day, and while it is certainly doable, it might almost be more exciting to do them on different days.  Nonetheless, our experience was incredibly positive.

The next morning we packed up again and drove a short ways to Wadi Rum.  This is another place of incredible geologic beautiful, although it is different structurally from Petra (which is what makes it possible to climb).  It has a bedrock of granite, then a layer of red sandstone, and a final layer of white sandstone.  These layers make it an incredible place to see.  We took a Jeep tour to see the fabulous rock art, which included humans as well as animals, and included some very interesting carvings of feet.  We also took a camel tour to Lawrence’s Spring.  I have wanted to ride a camel for quite a while now, and I highly recommend it.  It’s very different from riding a horse, since camels are gaited (they move both feet on one side at the same time), which makes for a very rolling movement.  It is very fun though, and I really enjoyed it.

After leaving Wadi Rum, we drove to Aqaba for lunch, where we were able to see the Red Sea!  Again, it was very beautiful, although again we didn’t have time for me to stick my toes in.  From there we made the long trek back to Amman.  At one point, Ian got to drive so that Gary could take a nap – after everything I’ve said about Jordanian drivers, needless to say I was happy I wasn’t the driver.  Everything went very well, however, and we arrived safely back in Amman.

Travel: Umm Qais, Ajloun, and Desert Castles

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm

The past few days have been a continuation of our travels throughout Jordan.  Most of the sites we’ve seen are Roman, Byzantine, or early Muslim period structures, which is quite a change from what we were excavating (late Neolithic, early Bronze Age).  The sites continue to be incredibly beautiful, and it’s been a joy to continue to travel and see all of these new places.

After returning from Jerash on Sunday night, we enjoyed an excellent meal with one of our fellow excavators and his girlfriend.  Both of them are completely lovely, and are excellent cooks, so we had a very fun night, including amazing food (all of the food we’ve eaten since returning from the desert has been wonderful, and as a result, we are all glutting ourselves a little bit).  It was very sad to say goodbye to them at the end of the evening – it’s odd to spend 20-30 days in a very isolated place with someone, and then suspect that you’ll never see them again.  This occurred again on Monday morning, when we said goodbye to one of the co-directors and his wife (also terrific people).  It’s very depressing to suspect that people you’ve become somewhat close with will never be seen again.

After saying some goodbyes on Monday morning, we headed north again.  We passed through the third largest town in Jordan (Irbid) and headed further north still, to the site of Umm Qais.  It was also originally a Roman city, which was then used by the Umayyids.  Unlike Jerash, it seemed that less had been excavated.  As Gary said, it seemed like someone had just stumbled upon it, and as a result, it had a very different feel to it.  It was also extremely beautiful, and I think all of us liked it a bit better for its isolation.  Umm Qais is also incredible because it is at the junction of three different countries.  From the site, you can clearly see Lake Tiberius (apparently there’s an alligator farm on the other side, however we weren’t able to see this).  Across from Lake Tiberius is the mainland of Israel (not the West Bank, but actually Israel).  On the other side of Lake Tiberius is Occupied Syria (the Golan Heights).  The view from the top of Umm Qais was therefore fantastic!  The area is very Mediterranean – olive groves (as well as other trees) dot the rolling hills, intersected by wide swaths of green.  It was truly beautiful on all accounts.

After enjoying another delicious meal at Umm Qais, we traveled back through Irbid and further, to the site of Ajloun, which is a Crusader-era castle that was built by the Saracen (Arab) military.  Ajloun was very striking, as it was high on a hill and surrounded by a number of plants (trees, shrubs, and all things green were still a shock after so long  in the barren desert).  There were a number of pine trees, and again the smell took me back to the mountains at home – while it made me a hint homesick, it was also the best smell I’d been around in a long time, and it was a relief to smell something so nice.  The castle itself was very pretty – lots of nice views from the towers, and a lot of beautiful stone architecture.  It, like many of the historic buildings in Jordan, has several eras and several layers of building, some of which we were able to see.  It was another really enjoyable place to visit.

The next day, we headed out on a longer day trip.  We were headed for four “desert castles”, which were, as expected, out in the desert.  A number of these were on our way to our field site, so we experienced some deja vu when we drove through Azraq again.  Prior to Azraq, however, we visited Qasr Amra, which was a Roman/Byzantine castle with an unbelievably beautiful mosque, as well as a number of reasonably well-preserved floor mosaics.  From Qasr Amra, we drove a short way to visit the bathhouse that served Qasr Amra.  It is currently under construction by a very competent Jordanian engineer, and looks like it is progressing beautifully.

After those two sites, we drove into Azraq (where Gary took a picture of me with the Iraq and Saudi signs, just to really reassure my mom about how safe everything was).  We toured the Azraq castle with our fantastic DOA representative, Wesam.  The combination of he and Gary was very entertaining, and made the trip to the castle very fun.  We enjoyed an unbelievable meal at his house, courtesy of his wife and sister-in-law.  This was definitely a highlight in the trip for us.

After Azraq, we drove to two more sites (and unfortunately, I don’t know their names).  One was a particularly famous hunting lodge, which was the most incredible wall paintings.  It was a Muslim era hunting lodge, which makes the depictions of animals and humans essentially unique.  Not only are they found almost nowhere else, they are truly spectacular, and have managed to stand the long test of time.  This site also had some beautiful mosaic floors, and we were able to enjoy a lot of fantastic art at that site.  We also headed to another Crusader-era castle, which was quite a ways off the beaten path.  Like the others, this was very beautiful (the architecture in all of these sites is striking), and though we were only there for a short time, it was again very fun to poke around and see the site.

Travel: Jerash

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2011 at 6:45 am

Today commenced the first part of my travels around various archaeological sites inJordan.  This was supposed to begin yesterday, but due to complications with renting a car here (another reason to rely more heavily on taxi services…) and complications with the Department of Antiquities, which was paving our way to view these sites, we spent another day yesterday sitting around.

As a result, it was all the more exciting to load ourselves and our cameras into the car and leave the city.  The city ofAmman, as my friend and I were discussing, is actually very beautiful.  While neither of us has any prior experience in a major Middle Eastern city (or any Middle Eastern city, for that matter), it’s very striking how lovelyAmmanis.  The architecture in many parts of the city is nothing particularly special – much development has been occurring in the past twenty or so years, and as the city is expanding, it’s clear that everyone is using the cheapest building material available (not to suggest that it’s unsafe, but simply to say that many of the buildings are very uniform in appearance).  The city is very hilly, and contrary to the stereotypical image of Middle Eastern cities as being barren, there are a number of trees and beautiful plants here.  Nonetheless, there was still a noticeable difference in the landscape as we left the city.  I think I, at least, was somewhat despairing about what the countryside might look like here (having only seenAmmanand the desert).  As we drove north, however, the scenery devolved into something very similar to eastern Oregon and Washington in the fall – dry agricultural areas dotted with small forests of trees.

There has been a movement in areas outside of Amman to restore forests – as Gary explained to me, when King Hussein I took the throne, he made a concerted effort to promote reforestation efforts north of Amman. The forests that had grown on the land originally had been cut down by people who used the wood to fire ceramics, as well as by Bedouin who needed the fuel for their fires.  Now that the forests are on their way to being reestablished, it is illegal to harvest wood from the forests, although it still happens.  These forests are now very beautiful, although still somewhat small; nonetheless, it was an incredible relief to see a forest, and to smell air that was scented with pine trees and woodsmoke.

The town of Jerash is relatively unassuming – it looks largely like a smaller version of Amman (similar architecture, similar crazy driving).  However, upon cresting one of the hills in Jerash, you see for the first time the magnificent architecture of the Roman city ofJerash, and it literally took my breath away.  I have visited very few historic sites, and certainly none have been as old as this.  The first thing you enter is Hadrian’s arch, which is a beautiful construction.  You then head to the hippodrome, where there were chariot and horse races.  Keep walking, and you reach the remains of Zeus’s temple, and the theatre, which has its own incredible architecture.

Jerash is a mix of Roman and Byzantine architecture (as Gary described it, the Byzantine period is Roman, but with Christianity added in), and as a result, there are a variety of religious structures.  There is a beautiful Byzantine temple/church, with a marvelously tiled floor.  There is also the Temple of Artemis/Diana (always a favorite of mine in Greek mythology), which had some of the only pillars that withstood the multiple earthquakes that wracked the area.  The pillars were built on bedrock, and as a result, the tremors affected them less so than the pillars at the Temple of Zeus.  Artemis was considered the patron goddess of Jerash, and I feel like it bodes well that her temple was the least damaged in those earthquakes.

After taking hundreds of pictures (Gary made fun of me for taking so many pictures of the pillars at the Temple of Artemis), we departed from the site of Jerash to go to an incredible restaurant.  If you happen to be in Jerash and need a place to eat, I can highly recommend Lebanese House (unfortunately, they do not have a website, but google them for more details).  The three of us shared the mezza plate, which is generally served for one person; however, the three of us could barely finish all of it.  Their flat bread is absolutely to die-for – as soon as a tore off a piece, the steam wafted the amazing smells to my nose, and my toes literally curled in delight.  It was the first meal in a while where I felt not only completely satiated, but utterly thrilled with what I had just eaten.

Travel: Amman, or In Which We Don’t Shower for Thirty Days

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2011 at 2:00 am

It has been well over thirty days since my last post, which is not a record, but is pretty astonishing.  In that time, I have experienced so many things that were not only completely outside of my usual framework, but have been both amazing and challenging.

My travels to Jordan went incredibly smoothly.  The Frankfurt airport is incredibly easy to navigate, and the people there are unbelievably kind and helpful.  I spent the first two or three hours there trying to entertain myself and prevent myself from falling asleep while I waited from my friend, who was flying from Dublin to Frankfurt.  When he arrived, we spent a number of hours comparing stories from Ireland and Mexico.  As of May, I hadn’t seen some of my friends for a year, and while it had only been five months since I’d seen him, it was nonetheless very exciting to reunite.  After putzing around the Frankfurt airport for another four or so hours, we finally boarded the plane to go to Amman.  This flight also went extremely smoothly, as did our entrance to Amman.  Customs and immigration went quickly and before we knew it, we were driving to ACOR, the American Center for Oriental Research.  Arriving at ACOR at 4:00 am, we were greeted by the call to prayer, which is not only characterizing my time here, but is also one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.

The next day we spent acclimating to the area here and meeting the various scholars who visit ACOR during the summer, or who actually live here.  Not everyone here is involved in archaeology or anthropology, although those are two very common fields of study.  Everyone is incredibly friendly and enjoyable to be around, although it is frequently overwhelming to talk to so many people who are quite accomplished.

The next day, we headed downtown to the souk.  Gary, our advisor and field director, had to obtain a number of things for our project.  This is where I can begin advising anyone who is considering traveling to Jordan.  I have no idea how many Americans visit Jordan annually, although I suspect it is an incredibly low number, which is unfortunate.  Jordan is a beautiful country (and I’ve only seen very little of it, so far!), and very worth traveling to if you are interested.  If you are intending to stay in Amman, I can safely advise you that you should not rent a car.  Taxis are relatively inexpensive, especially if you are sharing it with others (your family, friends, etc).  Unless you have driven in a Middle Eastern country, I seriously recommend against trying to drive here.  People are not hostile, but the style of driving is incredibly different (different than driving in NYC, different from Paris, etc).  It is well-worth taking taxis, as the drivers are friendly and polite, and much better versed at driving here than you would be.

And then: the first thing that is worth doing in Amman is going to the souk.  There is an endless variety of shops, from traditional spice shops, to coffee shops were you can buy the local cardamom coffee, to small hardware stores, paper stores, and hookah (shisha) stores.  The souk can also be very overwhelming.  Especially as a very noticeable woman, I initially felt rather uncomfortable.  You will attract attention as a Westerner, and as a woman, particularly.  I have thought a good deal about whether it is better to cover my hair here, or do without as a result of my experience in the souk.  I am, at this point (after three months in the sun in Mexico), platinum blonde, and I stick out like a sore thumb here.  I initially thought to cover my hair in part to avoid being noticed as much.  I am also extremely fair-skinned, so I knew that I would be noticeable regardless, but hoped to avoid being quite as visible.  At this point, however, with some more thought, I have decided to keep my hair uncovered in public.  While it is partially a sign of respect to Muslim culture to cover one’s hair, it is also…somewhat uncomfortable, for me.  I am not Muslim, and I felt almost like I was appropriating culture in a way that wasn’t necessary.  Additionally, since being here, I have seen everything from women in black burqas to women in the hijab, and women who wear no head covering.  I have seen women in the hijab and skinny jeans, or women in very Western dress with no head covering.  There is clearly a wide variation in what is acceptable here, and as a result, I no longer feel the need to cover my hair (although I highly recommend a hat or a scarf if you are going to be traveling, as the sun is quite intense).

Back to traveling, however!  Near the souk is also the King Hussein I Mosque, which is incredibly beautiful.  Named for the prior king’s grandfather, this is one of the oldest mosques in the city, and is quite large and spectacular.  While I did not go inside, it is worth seeing, photographing, etc.  This is the extent of my travel in Amman so far, and as a result, that’s where I finish being able to give advice about where to go.  In the next nine days, I will be traveling more around Amman and Jordan generally, so look for updates on that.

After being in Amman for two days, the entire crew minus one (one of the co-directors was arriving late) piled into two trucks, with all the gear, and began the five-six hour drive into the Badia, the Eastern Desert of Jordan.  Along the way, we stopped in Azraq, which we will see again, as it has a Roman fort.  If you happen to go to Azraq to see the Roman fort, I can highly recommend the falafel restaurant with the smashed chickens outside.  While this sounds unfortunate and even gruesome (and vague – I don’t know the name of the restaurant), the falafel at this restaurant is delicious, and apparently the smashed/grilled chickens are as well.  There is also a bakery next door that sells excellent flat bread, if you need some.

From Azraq, we drove to Ruwayshid, which is an even smaller town.  Slightly before the town, we pulled off the road and headed out into the desert on the tracks used by various Bedouin.  After driving around for a while, we finally reached Wisad Pools, the area where we would be surveying and excavating.  There was a lot of excitement, because for the first time in years, the pools had water in them!  Jordan had a late rainy season this year, and as a result, it rained later in May than usual, allowing us to have this wonderful water.  We set up out tents in various locations around the camp, and finally set up our large tent before helping ourselves to a dinner of Ritz crackers and canned cheese (oh, I kid you not.  I didn’t even know cheese came in cans).

The following morning, bright and early at 6:00, we all awoke, got ready, and headed out on our site tour.  The site is about one square kilometer, and has a number of diverse structures on it.  We then dove right into work, starting with the excavation of a looted tomb.  In the next thirty days, we quickly settled into a routine, whereby we woke early, ate breakfast (Azraq biscuits, peanut butter, and nutella), and headed into the field.  We would excavate for about two and a half hours from 7:00 to 9:30, whereupon we stopped to eat second breakfast (more of the same).  After second breakfast, we went back to excavating until 12:30, when we had lunch (crackers, peanut butter, canned tuna, canned cheese, canned meat).  This was generally the hottest part of the day, and as a result, we stayed in the  communal tent until 3:30-4:00.  This became reading, studying (for the GRE, oh joy), and napping time.  Finally we would work a little bit longer in the afternoon, before coming back to the tent for beer, pepsi, snacks, and dinner.  Dinner was composed of a three day rotation of ramen (with canned peas and corn), pasta (with red sauce and beans), and packaged soup (with potatoes, onions, and garlic, when we had them).  For me, the food was a challenge.  I constantly felt a little bit protein deficient (I think I’m still fighting that off), and as was everyone else, bored with the lack of variety.  When we had guests visit, we finally had some variation, which was a welcome relief.

Excavation also quickly turned into a routine.  For two morning shifts, I would excavate while my friend sifted.  In the afternoon, we would switch so that I would sift and he would excavate, and the next morning, he would take the morning shifts excavating.  This both minimized frustrations with our lack of experience in excavation, and also prevented us from getting bored.  It was an incredible relief to have someone else my own age on this excavation.  This is the first time in ten years that Gary has taken two students to the same site, and I am so grateful to have had someone else with me.

The upshot of this trip is that, while I enjoyed excavations, and love anthropology and archaeology as much as ever, I am still not certain that I want to do this for the rest of my life.  I was hoping for some clarity in this regard, and still have none.  I have begun to consider other options besides graduate school when I graduate in May next year.  This is a terrifying prospect in many ways for me, but I am also excited by the possibilities.

And I really didn’t shower for thirty days, by the way.  Thus the title of this entry.  🙂