Sunday, February 15, 2009

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 San Juan? I miss you all and think of you often.

Love, Mommy/Laura


  1. Dear Laura,

    Actually I thought the ferry from Ambon looked kinda fancy--cursory glance at the photo. andy's description set me straight. bad. (reminiscent of the blood-stained wall next to the blackened tub in a hotel i stayed in in lagos once long ago. :- )

    clara, yari, and eric were here for a good chunk of the morning yesterday. (they were heading up to san juan today--had to pack yesterday afternoon before going to samantha's (yes?) hosue for dinner and what clara was REALLY looking forward to: rootbeer floats. :- )

    we had a really lovely morning/early afternoon--eating waffles drowning in homemade blackberry jam (i'm SURE we picked those berries together!) and crispy (though not crispy enough for you probly) bacon, drinking (LOTS!) of coffee and odwalla, reading this amazing book about fantastic constructions (as eric says, the audacity of scale), playing playing playing legos... the kids seem pretty calm (yes, yari, too, so long as we stick to the story that you are NOT gone, you are at work :- )... clara is looking more and more like you every day!

    they seem to be eating high on the hog--there was the negotiated dinner with nutella crepes and banana splits. (negotiated because clara THOUGHT she was staying with a friend... can't remember who it was.) eric sneaked in salmon belly for protein a crepe for him with that and scallions and maybe sour cream? eric has also used up your vegetable boxes!! he said he made a pasta with shrimp, broccoli, and cauliflower and clara LOVED it. (doesn't she hate cauliflower? :- )

    was a gorgeous day here--mid-40s, that winter clarity, and the sunset.... wow.

    hey would you point us to a place where we could read up on the culture which you are excavating? and also, how about a snail mail address? it might be fun to try to send a letter. (i know. i'll be prepared for the thought that it might never arrive.)


  2. Hi Laura,

    It's wonderful to hear about your adventures. The story of the ferry and the cockroaches was disgustingly amazing. It sounds like things are going well there. I saw the kids last Friday and they seem great...staying busy with all the invitations for brunch, dinner, and other activities. Eric seems good too. I think he's getting lots of support. The Catalyst is gone and Eric said its nice to have things back to normal. They headed up to the San Juans yesterday (Monday).

    Take care!