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May 27, 2006

In town for supplies

San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Things are still going great. A colleague and I are in San Pedro Sula today buying some supplies and to eat lunch. We havent been doing much since Monday except eat and drink. Quite a different pace of life in Honduras than in the states...the main reason I like to come to Central America.

The field school students arrive tomorrow and then on Monday we are touring the sites, then starting work next week. Its going to be hot and tiring, but fun. We drove past the Palmarejo site this morning and its beautiful. Not jungle or rainforest like Belize but still very neat. I will have some great pictures when I get back (I already have a good one of a HUGE spider that was in our bathroom).

Posted by Will at 01:40 PM

May 23, 2006

Hola from Cofradia

Cofradia, Hondruas

My friends and I made it to Honduras safe and sound. It is VERY hot here and quite different from Belize, where I was two summers ago. The people seem very nice and down to earth. I am in a little internet cafe right now with a rather slow connection, but I guess I can´t be too picky in the middle of Honduras. We are staying at a lady´s house for a few nights. It´s air conditioned and I actually woke up freezing this morning. It makes going out in the heat that much harder. We still have quite a bit of preparation to do before the field school students arrive on Sunday. Until next time...

Posted by Will at 01:48 PM

May 22, 2006

Honduras or Bust

Tampa, FL

Well, here we go. I hardly got any sleep last night and drank two cups of coffee this morning. I’m going to be feeling GREAT on the plane. My friend is picking me up in fifteen minutes. We fly from Tampa to Miami, and then to San Pedro Sula. A Honduran colleague is picking us up at the airport there where we’ll make our way to Cofradía, my home for the next five weeks. See you on the other side...

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Posted by Will at 06:32 AM

May 21, 2006

It was one year ago today...

Today is the official one year anniversary of Nomadic Thoughts. On May 21st, 2005 I made my first entry:

I'm flying out of Charlotte tomorrow morning to visit South Florida and take care of some pre-Fall business. I need to stop by the financial aid office, of course, and get some things situated. I learned early on that of all the stuff that's involved in getting ready for graduate school, pretty much all of it depends on being able to get it paid for. I haven't been offered anything from the Anthro Department yet, but I'm hoping for an assistantship. Maybe teach or something? So far what I have are some general government grants and a work study grant. Who knows, maybe I'll be serving mashed potatoes at the cafeteria.

Since then, I've made 310 posts at an average of 1.18 per day. Not bad. Here’s to another year of blogging madness.

Posted by Will at 03:00 PM

May 20, 2006

Gear

Location: Tampa, FL

Dropped some more cash today, mostly at Wal-Mart. Apparently Ozark Trail is their main supplier of camping and outdoor gear, so I'll be a walking billboard in Honduras. My field bag is starting to come together:

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Posted by Will at 08:01 PM

May 18, 2006

Take only photographs, leave only footsteps

I ventured out to Lettuce Lake Park where I usually run to try my hand at some nature photography. It was a very nice day out but unfortunately I didn't come across the box turtle or the snake that I encountered a few days ago. Also, the fantastic observation tower was closed for renovation. Lettuce Lake, a Hillsborough County park, is one of the greenest places I've seen and gives the illusion that you're not in Tampa (a feeling I treasure dearly).
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My new Canon Powershot A700 is quite the piece of equipment. The photos below were taken at the higest resolution and compression rate but I have resized them for easy blog viewing. I was very impressed at all the settings, most of which I have yet to use. The 6x optical zoom is great as well and the feature I'm probably most excited about (it can get up to 24x with digital zoom). With my 1 gigabyte memory card (extra, of course) I can get almost 9,000 photos at the lowest resolution and about 360 at the highest. And to brag a little more, those yellow flowers are about the size of a quarter.

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Posted by Will at 11:55 PM

Preliminary Checklist

Honduras Blogging 2006
Location: Tampa, FL

Preparations continue. I think I have most of this stuff already, but I need to buy a bunch of the clothes. Tomorrow and the rest of the weekend are shopping and packing days.

Clothing
Long pants (work + leisure)
Long sleeve t-shirts
T-shirts
Button-up shirts
Shorts
Boots (get waterproofing)
Sneakers
Quick dry sturdy socks (10 days worth)
Low-rise socks
Hat
Rain poncho
2 nice shirts (polo?); pair of slacks
Brown sketchers
Flip flops
Tevas
Swim trunks
3 towels

Toiletries
Sturdy travel toothbrush
Starter travel shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, shaving cream
Face wash
Body wash (not bar soap!)
Fingernail clippers, nose hair trimmer, tweezers
Razor

Personal equipment
Digital Camera w/ case (return case and buy larger); cleaning wipes
Lithium batteries
Binoculars
Flashlight
Cheap sunglasses (polarized); hard case
Digital watch (2)
iPod w/ wall charger
Book(s) for pleasure


First Aid Items
Anti-itch cream
Band-aids (various sizes)
Antibiotic cream
Aspirin
Bandage tape


Field bag necessities
Water bottles
Sturdy backpack
Bug spray/DEET
Small towels
Sunscreen (at least 45 or 50)
First aid (see above)
Waterproof notebook(s)/binder
Notebook(s)
Pencils, pens, highlighter, sharpie
Pocket calculator
Ruler
Clipboard
Pencil pouch/box
Spanish dictionary
Ziplock bags (large)
Face/hand wipes

Books
Ancient Maya (Sharer)
Sharer/Ashemore intro book
Field methods manuals

Posted by Will at 07:52 PM

May 17, 2006

Thinking about getting ready

Honduras Blogging 2006
Present location: Winston-Salem, NC

Welcome to Honduras blogging on Nomadic Thoughts. No, I haven’t left yet but final preparations are underway. I head back to Tampa later this evening after a weeklong, much-needed visit to North Carolina. My digital camera was delivered to my place in Tampa this morning, much to my relief. I hope to go to the park tomorrow afternoon to get some shots. I don’t yet know what the chances are of me being able to upload photos while I’m in Honduras, but at the very least I will be blogging the whole trip.

So, next step is to go shopping. I have a list of things I need to buy including a whole new wardrobe of clothes I’m not worried about wearing out or giving away. My friend tells me that the women hired to do our laundry really put our clothes through hell: they use one of those roller things and a scrubbing board. Also, at the end of the trip it is expected that I will give away some of my clothes to the locals as gifts who have worked with me over the course of the month. At this point, the thing I am looking most forward to is escaping the United States for a brief period and the thing I am least looking forward to is missing my family and girlfriend. Stay tuned!

Posted by Will at 12:21 PM

May 16, 2006

Written on the Walls

A great piece in the New York Times today, including some cool pictures and multimedia extras.

On Ancient Walls, a New Maya Epoch
On the sacred walls and inside the dark passageways of ancient ruins in Guatemala, archaeologists are making discoveries that open expanded vistas of the vibrant Maya civilization in its formative period, a time reaching back more than 1,000 years before its celebrated Classic epoch.
The intriguing finds, including art masterpieces and the earliest known Maya writing, are overturning old ideas of the Preclassic period. It was not a kind of dark age, as once thought, of a culture that emerged and bloomed in Classic times, at places like the spectacular royal ruin at Palenque beginning about A.D. 250 and extending to its mysterious collapse around 900.

Full NYT story here.

Posted by Will at 05:46 PM

Home

What a busy but fun past few days. It was graduation weekend at UNC-Wilmington and my girlfriend walked the stage into the void…the void of being a working adult with a college degree. In addition to her ceremonies, I was able to drop in on the anthropology department and see most of my professors. It is hard to believe that it has already been one year since I graduated. The past two semesters have flown by at the speed of light and if I’m lucky, the next year and a half will do the same. Being in Wilmington this past weekend made me miss it even more, to the point that I got those pangs in my stomach when I thought about going back to Tampa. The memory of so many good times and so many good friends is too much to bear sometimes, but we can’t stay in college forever (even though I am trying to!). Wilmington really is one of the greatest cities in the country and I would be as happy as I could be living there and settling down.

I head back to Tampa on Wednesday to get ready for five weeks in Honduras. I have quite a bit of planning to do, not to mention the actual packing and purchasing of supplies. I bought a digital camera online today, a Canon Powershot A700, one of their newest models. It’s an awesome 6.0 megapixels with 6x optical zoom. I got a great deal on www.buydig.com, about $70 cheaper than Best Buy and Circuit City. I’m counting on the zoom coming in handy while getting some shots of the wildlife and nature. Should arrive by Wednesday so I’ll try to get some test shots posted from the local park before I leave.

Posted by Will at 01:42 AM

May 10, 2006

Sad but true

''There is a discounting of African lives that is complex, but what it comes down to is that the people of Darfur are poor, black, Muslim and don't sit over any valuable natural resources,'' said Eric Reeves, a Smith College expert on Sudan. "You can't get any poorer than that geopolitically.''

Susan Taylor Martin in the St. Petersburg Times this morning (in the same column):

Why should Americans care what happens in a far-off country, on a continent that seems perpetually mired in poverty, turmoil and corruption? Because, experts say, what began as a localized conflict could easily spread to a good chunk of Africa, turning it into a new breeding ground for terrorists and creating thousands of refugees who could end up in the United States.
...
If for no other reason, Americans should be concerned about Darfur "because peace is cheaper than war,'' as Reeves puts it. In three years, the U.S. government has spent about $800-million and that "is a lot of money that is essentially to preserve lives,'' he said. "It's not investing in infrastructure or anything else'' that could have long-term benefits.

Oh yeah, and the tens of thousands of people dying is repulsive in and of itself. What the hell is wrong with this country? When are we going to stop being American citizens before world citizens?

Posted by Will at 09:59 AM

May 09, 2006

What down time?

Another lesson learned in graduate school: every day is “crunch time.” My departure for Honduras on the 22nd is approaching quickly and I still have several things to prepare. My thesis committee should come together by tomorrow, as I’m meeting with my third potential member. My internship proposal will also be finalized this week. Then tomorrow night is the orientation meeting for the field school where I get to meet all the up-and-coming archaeologists, who my friends and I will be partly responsible for (“keep your walls straight, resist the temptation to yank stuff out of the ground, and don’t drink the water”). Although I’m looking forward to taking on a leadership position for five weeks, I’m still a little apprehensive about conducting my own project at the same time.

Posted by Will at 05:27 PM

May 05, 2006

Apocalypto website updated

Got an e-mail today saying that the official Apocalypto movie website has been updated with some exclusive photos. And if you haven't heard, the release date has been moved from this summer to December of this year due to some of the shoots being rained out.

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Posted by Will at 05:12 PM

Apartment Hunting

I spent part of yesterday and most of today driving around north Tampa looking for a place to live. The lease for the joke of an apartment complex I currently live in is up in August. Right now I am paying $435 per month with a roommate, which is insanely cheap for university area (“you get what you pay for” is blaringly obvious in this case). I’m learning that a good, clean place to live in Tampa by myself will cost at least $600-$700 which is discouraging, but doable considering I was appointed for another 20-hour graduate assistantship in the Fall. Granted, most of my monthly paycheck will go toward rent, but it’s worth it if I can a) live by myself and b) not have to worry about a cracked-out office staff, half of whom I’m older than, trying to pretend to be a legitimate community who cares about their residents. Come to think of it, I could probably move into a Section 8 downtown and it would be more bearable.

Posted by Will at 04:59 PM

May 01, 2006

Digital Cameras

I am currently in the market for a new digital camera, to be purchased before I leave for Honduras on the 22nd. In my opinion, cameras are one of the hardest things to shop for because there are many brands and models with many options. My budget is under $500 and right now the biggest option under consideration is megapixels (clarity, color, etc.), with size and zoom cabability coming in next. Does anyone have any recommendations for or experience with a good multi-use camera that will hold up in the field?

Posted by Will at 03:32 PM | Comments (1)

Change in plans

As you can see, I've modified my degree countdown on the right to reflect the realization that I won't be able to produce a quality thesis by just going to Honduras for one month. I have decided that I will go down later this month as planned and get a feel for what has been done and what is being done at the sites, particularly Palos Blancos in the Naco Valley (NW Honduras). I may start collecting some useful data or just formulate a thesis while I'm down there, and then come back next summer. By then, I'll have a much better idea of what I'm doing and will make the most of the season. I'm not completely bummed out about this however bad I want to get out of Tampa, but I didn't come this far to throw together a weak thesis based on five or six weeks in a new country. So, 594 days to go and counting...

Posted by Will at 01:42 PM

PR Grrrrita!

Made it back last night from Puerto Rico safe and sound. Five days on a Caribbean island isn’t a bad way to wrap up a long semester and go to a conference. The SAA meetings were fun (yes, there was a point to the trip). I volunteered at four symposia: one about paleoethnobotany, another about Maya architecture in northern Belize, one about political ecology in Belize, and the one where my friends were presenting about “agrestic” centers in Northwest Honduras. After seeing several papers, I am starting to agree with Brian Fagan that archaeology is becoming far too specialized, with a small handful of people becoming experts in obscure topics that may be relevant but limit a broader understanding of past culture. The meetings this year also reminded me what a wise decision it was to pursue a degree in applied as opposed to traditional archaeology. A few of the papers I heard left me scratching my head and thinking, “that’s interesting, but what’s the point?” There usually is a point but too often, it is pushed to the side in favor of highlighting the contributions to those highly specialized sub-sub-sub-sub disciplines of archaeology I mentioned. The best speakers I saw were generally the big names that had been at it for a few decades. Timothy Beach and Emily deTapia were a few memorable presenters. A few side notes: I ran into my mentor from UNC-Wilmington that I hadn’t seen in about a year and was invited to the department graduation in a couple of weeks. Oh, and the title of this post comes from the hundreds of signs and car decorations we saw while citizens were protesting government cutbacks (Scream, Puerto Rico!).

A neat street scene in Old San Juan:
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On Sunday, we drove up to the mountains where there is a weekly street fair type event...
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...and we ate some roasted pig that was delicious:
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The best part of Puerto Rico: the amazing beaches and jet blue water:
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Posted by Will at 01:08 PM