The filthy Ciremai ship is fading from my mind, and I’ve been busily running the lab. The lab on Banda Naira is located in an old Dutch home with spacious rooms, minimal furniture and negligible lighting. It is blissful. Three students are typically assigned to the lab, and we all work outside on the covered porch in the 95degF tropical heat. Several people have brought Ipods, so we rock out to 70s and 80s bands, inventory the artifact bags and sort heavy fraction (2mm screens). Snacks are a must to keep the lab folks happy; and I walk down to the market every few days to pick up something new. Kofikos are the current favorite: coffee-flavored hard toffee candies.
Tropical environments make labwork a little tricky. It often takes three or four days to dry the heavy fraction because the air is so humid; the light fraction takes even longer. Since the heavy fraction is washed in the sea at the site, it has to get washed in fresh water at the lab to ensure that the metal artifacts don’t rust. Yesterday, as I scooped up water to put into the wash bucket, a gigantic cockroach floated to the top of the scoop. I managed to gracefully cast the scoop contents into the garden, but from now on, I’ll look first before I scoop.
As expected, tasks at the lab revolve around organizing the artifacts that come out of the site. But, in the late afternoon, we are also attempting to blog. This sometimes feels impossible. We have tried (yes, for hours) to use the Satellite phone, but can’t seem to connect to the ftp site. We have also tried to log on to the internet at the local hotel. Most of the time the power is out, so it’s not an option. Yesterday, however, Wilson, hunched over a two-foot high table for over two hours on a plastic child seat, managed to upload two of our blogs (at least I hope you’ve seen them!). The connection is extremely slow, and some of the documents haven’t been readable by the hotel computers. We are finally getting the gist of it now (I hope), and will try to send a few every other day or so.
I hope the Newts are enjoying the winter break. Are you up on