A Typical Day

Its 10:50pm. I just spent the last half hour walking buckets of water up to the bathroom to refill the “flushing water” drums. Not having consistent running water puts a lot into perspective.  

I’ve been trying for a few days now to write a “typical field day” blog post. Things like the above have been getting in the way. Constantly.

So. Welcome to the typical field day.

I wake up at 5ish am and mentally prepare for it all. I’m out of bed by 0530ish. Coffee in hand, I prepare for the day. It consists of making sure the field crews have their supplies and their radios are charged.

Then breakfast. I’m never hungry at breakfast but I know better. So I mechanically chew my rice + something. The most interactions with crew and students throughout the day are meal times. The tables are used up by different work activities so people fill into empty spots on benches, the floor or sporadic chairs.  Cross talk happens a lot.

The mornings are hectic. Everyone tries to get their chores done, their breakfasts eaten, and themselves ready. All by 7am. Because at 7am we are loaded up on the Jeepney and rumbling off to the site. Because at 7am there is no time to grab that last something you forgot. Adam is hollering “load up!” in general. And we are hollering “load up!” to our crews.

 Grads riding the jeepney  

Grads riding the jeepney  

It’s a sometimes bumpy road mostly it’s a windy road. From the road the valley of terraced rice fields splays out and the mountains rise up behind those. Along the road are homes and business. People, chickens, and dogs go about their days. We get a vignette of these on the way down and the way back up. Sometimes there are kids. Some yell “Americanu” up at us. Some wave, laughing when we wave back. My mind often wanders. There’s more and more to think about.

When we roll up and I step off that ladder, I am back to it. Now I think about the field, what my objective for the day is. Whether I’ll miss a step on the way to the site.

We trek to the site. I haven’t timed it yet. We get quite the variety of views. We start off from the gravel yard, through rice fields, along terrace walls, across bridges, and hopping river stones. It’s a beautiful walk, somewhat treacherous. Usually the walk wakes me up. We file into our base of operations, the granary.

 Crossing the metal bridge

Crossing the metal bridge

It’s a granary that’s somewhat central to the entire terrace property. It’s there we store our tools. The day takes off from there. My fellow crew leaders and myself consult our notes and then get our teams organized and working. This can often be challenging. There isn’t a routine day in the field. Our job is to make sure the archaeology gets taught, gets done, and is organized. This means more than managing, it means teaching the thought behind the method. They should learn from us the how and the why, so that by the end of the field school they can make their own decisions based on the underlying thinking.

Hopefully I do my end well enough. My students are generally on top of things. What seems to always get us is the humid heat. As we work the sun draws the moisture from the fields and seems to deposite it on our arms.

Breaks are frequent and the lunch break is nap time for some. I spend it listening to conversation and decompressing.

Its 3ish when we close up and make the trek back to the jeepney and ride back to headquarters, the SITMo (Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement) office. On arrival, we debrief while our funk ferments. Then we have a break while we take turns showering.

 Emily, one of the students, walking back after a long day

Emily, one of the students, walking back after a long day

Evening lab work begins for those assigned and the rest work on other things. For me, the second half of the day goes by very quickly. Dinner comes fast and then there’s more to do. Write reports, collect reports, finish lab work, prep the next morning and then off to bed by 10 or 11.

There is often a beer or two spread out throughout the evening.

That’s my field day except for when there are exceptions; which routinely happen.