It is super cool that I live in a time where I can hop on a plane and be across the Pacific in a day's worth of travel. Sure beats languishing on a boat. My taxi driver from the airport last night joked that I should take him with me when I go back home. Even though it was just a joke there is something of a slight hope in the jest. I am remarkably privileged to be doing what I do and I'm super grateful that I'm back here in the Philippines with people I care about for the 4th time.
As I write this post, I'm sitting in my hotel room waiting for Maddie so we can go and get a late dinner (update: she went to sleep). My roommates (Marko and Jared), both of whom I met in 2014, are still M.I.A. I imagine the traffic has something to do with it (Update: they were slow). This is the first alone time I've had since I was packing my bags on the night of the 17th and Glen was asleep on the couch because she didn't want to waste time sleeping when she could be spending time with me. But she fell asleep anyway, so I slipped a blanket over her. Leaving her that next morning was pretty hard and I find myself thinking about her on most of my downtime. Again, I got fortunate with Glen.
So anyway, I'm waiting for Maddie and I remembered that I wanted to start this blog. Finally, I'm doing it. I figured I would aim this field series at those people in my life who are interested in what I do but don't quite get the amount of detail they might want (you know who you are) because when I get back I'm not too keen on talking about it. So for those of you: I'm sorry about that. Jared said my writing is a bit robotic (I didn't use inhumane, against his wishes). That's because I'm tired and a feeling a bit like a robot.
For the other peeps who happen on this. Here is a glimpse into field work and field schools. Generally unedited.
The first few days are hectic. All my stuff is tightly packed into two backpacks (44 and 20 liters). I've refined my supplies and clothing to the point that I'm willing to call my packing job an art form. Maybe it's cheating that I buy a good amount of toiletries once we get to the town near the site. That town is Kiangan.
There's a level of stress that accompanies the knowledge that your lodging is ephemeral.
Because all my things are so tightly packed I loathe changing because that means pulling clothes out of their compressed bag. I tried to set aside a couple sets but forgot to pull out the shirt I need for tomorrow.
Tomorrow is the big meet and greet. We introduce the perma-crew with the field school students and attempt to set the tone for the field school with our first mini-talk. Also tomorrow we take whoever wants to go to SM North (the closest mall) for last minute supply shopping and for mobile phone SIM cards.
Finally we will pack up our things (again) to load onto our bus that will take us to Kiangan, Ifugao. Traditionally this ride takes 9 hours and is freezing the whole time. Rest stops involve a lot of standing around outside the bus to thaw out our extremities and get blood flowing again. Every year Maddie and I take the time to make it abundantly clear to the students that the bus is freezing and every year someone doesn't actually believe us. The bus ride back down invariably involves a lot more blankets.
This field school requires more sweaters and blankets than most people think. People think 90 degrees and humid when they think the Philippines but it can get somewhat chilly when the rains start up in the mountains. It's notable that Baguio was conceived as a Manila away from Manila in the Summer for U.S. Officials in the early 1900's. I'm actually wearing a sweater in my room right now because I have the air-con blasting and I don't dare turn it down.
Welcome to IAP 5.0, More updates to come. You'll probably notice that these are posted on a time lag. Edits are graciously provided by Maddie and Jared