Starting up an archaeological field season at a remote location usually takes a while and is a slow drawn out process. In the case of Caracol it would not even be possible without the aid of the Institute of Archaeology and especially Brian Woodye.
In order to get the season under way, the first order of business is to bring in men to repair the camp and to get the kitchen supplied and running. Five men came into Caracol on Friday, February 18 to start fixing camp and three cooks came in the next day on Saturday, February 19 to set up the kitchen and make sure that all of the butane (stoves) and solar (freezer) appliances were working and that we had enough supplies on hand for 30+ individuals; they all worked through the weekend.
Odds and Ends
The first order of business was to find and reposition all of the storage coolers containing the kitchen and digging supplies. Over the years, we have accumulated more than two dozen large storage coolers and more are added every year. While the men labored to set up camp (huts, showers, bathrooms, labs), Adrian and I left Phoenix and Las Vegas on January 22, met up in Dallas for the night, and arrived in Belize on January 23 to meet with the Institute of Archaeology and to make sure that all of the necessary odds and ends were back in camp prior to the start of the field season.
Adrian was ensconced permanently at camp on Friday the 25th. I stayed out in Cayo at the San Ignacio Hotel and collected the senior staff (Mo, Eric, Brooke, and Roxayn) from the airport on February 27, at which point we all proceeded into camp to stay for the duration of the field season; Melissa also joined us at camp on Sunday. Just as the Mahindra reached Caana on that Sunday, the battery light came on, the power steering stopped working, and the breaks also had issues. It turns out that we had lost a pulley in the engine and that all of the belts had burst and broken. Luckily it happened at camp and we were able to get a message out through phone calls to the states on our Guatemalan phones as to what the issues were (our computer system has not yet been installed).
Dave Griffith and Brian came in the next day and effected the repair to the Mahindra in the afternoon. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I took the men out with Adrian (and, eventually, Eric, Brooke, and Roxayn) to begin bushing the groups west of Puchituk that would be a focus of excavation. Meanwhile, the senior staff undertook the excavation and recording of a looted tomb (to the south of the South Acropolis down the Pajaro-Ramonal Causeway) that was located by the men when they were getting guano leaves to the hut roofs. Wednesday night I went out to Cayo and on Thursday, January 31 I picked up the four new students (Lauren, Haley, Mayra, and Angelo) from the Belize City airport (as well as a cooler of chicken and tuna fish for the season) and drove them back into Caracol for the remainder of the field season.
The men pumped wash water to our tanks on Thursday and did odds and ends around camp. Friday was bushing again at Puchituk. Saturday was also bushing for half a day, but this time at the hilltop group at Monterey, the second focal area for the field season. Saturday night was movie night and, in honor of all the bushing that had been done during the week, the movie was “Machete” (produced in 2010, but taking on a whole different meaning in 2019). On Sunday four more men and a host of kitchen supplies came in; three more men will hopefully appear at the end of next week.