Saturday, August 27, 2011

And We Come to an End (part 1)

Hello all you intrepid readers! I know you've all been anxiously refreshing your browser, waiting for my latest post, but to no avail. I've been without the internet for about two weeks. Honestly, not the worst thing in the world. It's alright, though. Your waiting has come to an end! Thus continues the exciting adventures in archaeology of one Mr. Alex Johnston!!!

Alright, that was... maybe a little over the top. But, I do apologize for saying I could update more frequently, and then turning around and not saying anything for two weeks. We were told that we'd have internet at the flat that we were staying at, and we didn't. We were also told that the pub would have internet access... They didn't. Finally, the library was our group's last bastion of hope for contacting our families in far-away places. It closed before we got home every single day of the week. Literally. So, alas, we've been lost out in the wilds of Alford, getting strange looks from the locals, and, frankly, deserving them.

First things first (exactly how I didn't do them on the first dig), I'll introduce you to the crew! They were all relatively marvelous people, but I have to say, certain people made more of an impression on me than others. And other people... Well, they definitely made an impression, but maybe not in the positive sense... Haha.

First off: Murray Cook - our fearless leader! He was the archaeologist who organized the trip. He's been at this for a while, but it still hasn't made him any less awkward. He apparently has become more lax over the years about his organization of the dig, because he's run into so many people that just come to the dig as a cheap-ish vacation. We only had one of those in our group, so that was a little bit interesting, and somewhat less than educational in some regards. Murray himself is an amiable person; willing to get along with anyone for a short time. However, the group kind of decided that he maybe didn't want to hang out with us all night, so we didn't see too much of him off-site, unless it was him making dinner or taking us to visit an archaeological site. He constantly would run his mouth, though most of the stuff that came out of it was actually educational, and tended to trip over himself more than any of us. He's been in this field for quite a while, so he really knows what he's talking about, he just doesn't stop talking about it ever. I think he might've taken a special liking to me for reasons that will be revealed by the time we get to the end of this post (mysterious!!!).

Next up is Murray's brother, Martin. He's also an archaeologist, though he came to the profession by a different route than Murray. Murray is more scientific in nature, while Martin is focused on history. Either way, they're both quite intelligent and look pretty much nothing alike. Martin is the younger of the two, but he definitely acts as the older brother in some cases, specifically when it comes to alerting Murray when he's put his foot in his mouth. Good-natured in general, he's still not afraid to make fun of me (or anyone else, but mostly me [this goes back to the mysterious reason why I was singled out in many ways that was mentioned earlier]) when it serves to lighten the mood, or when we were all getting drunk. That too.

The third Scotsman of the group was Jamie. He was a large man that had an enormous beard, but was incredibly quiet. Also, he was the best at pool out of the whole group by far. He was an archaeologist by trade as well, and apparently an old university friend of Martin. He was easy-going and really the anchor to the over-seeing group. His last name is Humble, which is incredibly descriptive of his character and he has a brother named Felton. I can't think of anything else to say about him, but he's cool.

Alright! On to the students! I'll introduce them in alphabetical order of their call-name.

Kim (Big Red) - Kim definitely became one of the closest friends I had there. She's from Pennsylvania and is really cool. She graduated (I think? If I understand correctly?) and just came to this because her last field school sucked. We were happy to have her. Also, she's one of the primary founders of Delta Squad, which was our awesome team of people that got everything done (there were only four or so of us). She's SUPER breakable, however, and had a lot of good stories about hurting herself. She was probably one of the better workers on the site, especially evident when the rest of us were sitting around not wanting to do anything and she was hand-troweling out a a section for the entirety of a day. Then again, she claims it's just 'cause she couldn't get up, so she figured she should just keep going. All-in-all, a very cool person and one that I hope to keep in contact with. Oh, and a kick-ass pool team-mate. We rocked the table (except against Jamie, who beat everyone).

Emma (Captain Cork) - Emma is actually from County Cork (hence the call-name) and is working on her masters, I believe. She's quite soft-spoken, but opinionated, to be sure. Especially about my music... She didn't necessarily approve of my taste. Though, I don't think anyone really did... (Especially Martin...) And I think she got quite a bit of pleasure from discussing the low-points of my musical interests. Anyway, she ended up being a pool-shark by the end of the two weeks and pretty much cleared the table in most cases (if you couldn't guess, most of our off-days were spent playing pool). She wasn't really in my area for most of the dig, so I can't accurately discuss her work-ethic or anything, but it couldn't have been too bad. Heh.

Tori (Day Bird) - Tori is from Seattle and actually knows some of the same people I do, which was a weird coincidence. It's a small world, I suppose. She was pretty cool, though quiet. We didn't really talk much, but I didn't have too many problems with her, beyond the cattiness that everyone developed by the end of the dig. Alas.

Diana (Green Pea) - Honestly, I'm gonna come right out and say that I was not sure that Diana was going to like this sort of stuff. She comes from New York and dressed really nicely, even when we were going out to the site to dig in the mud. I think the entire group shared my reservations about whether or not she was going to have a good time, but we were all proven happily wrong! Diana and Jessica were friends before the dig, so they came together to get some experience in a field school. They both could have turned out to be prissy and whatnot, but they were totally down in the muck all day. I even accidentally sprayed mud in her face with a brush (funny story) and she didn't kill me, though she did threaten to. She may not have been the quickest worker, but she didn't give up and she hiked all the huge freakin' trails with us. Props to her. She was also really cool to hang out with when she wasn't taking care of Little Fox (explained below).

Aletheia (Grey Dog) - Aletheia was actually the first person I met on this trip, and when I found out she was from U of O, I was a little worried that maybe a couple of gullible oregonians had fallen into a slave trade or something. I didn't want to end up in some sort of creepy Hostel movie re-make. Anyway, Aletheia was also super cool and another founding member of Delta Squad. (Side-note: I don't think any of the founding members of Delta Squad actually wanted to found this group, I just made them. It was a toss-up between Delta Squad and Team Mongoose, but once we started getting a ton of work done when no-one else would, I settled on Delta Squad for a team name. This wasn't an important piece of information.) I think Aletheia and I threw some of the people not from the states off because we would constantly joke about how one school was better than the other and apparently school rivalries aren't big outside of the U.S. Alas. Anyway, I had a ton of fun with Aletheia. She might not have the best taste in movies or anything, but she's incredibly nice and agreeable to pretty much anyone in the world. Another one of my closest friends there whom I would totally enjoy keeping in contact with. Oh, and she plays the bagpipes, apparently. Interesting character.

(Can you guess what the secret is that made me the odd-man-out yet?)

Jessica (Little Fox) - Poor, poor Little Fox... Jessica (mentioned above with Diana) was sick pretty much the ENTIRE trip. I felt so bad for her! She came to the dig every day but one and really tried to put in the work. She did really well for being incapacitated the whole time. Also, she was another snappy dresser. We all dressed in grungy clothes except for Jessica and Diana, who were grubbing around in the mud, but managed to stay quite presentable. Honestly, I didn't get to talk to her too much because she was usually in her room, sounding like she was dying (mostly just coughing, but I blow things out of proportion). I think she played pool for the first time ever last... Wednesday? I think it was Wednesday... I hope she at least enjoyed the experience...

Karin (Locksmith) - Ah, Karin... (I think that's how you spell her name) Karin was... an interesting character. Maybe not my favorite person in the world? Maybe? She had a strange tendency to assume we were going to injure her in some way, inform us of this and then threaten us with violence in response if we were to proceed with said action. Example: I'm raking up some dirt so that we can get it back in the trench. I've been doing the same thing in the same area for, say, five minutes or so, not waving the rake around or anything, and Karin comes up behind me and says "Alex, if you hit me with that rake, I'm going to take it from you and hit you back." Alright... I wasn't planning on hitting you? There's really no risk of this taking place... But alright. I think she was just trying to get attention from a certain Aberdinian individual named Paul. This same sort of conversation took place way more than was necessary however. I never once struck anyone there, but got warned and threatened at least three times a day from Karin. Interesting. She also listened to her music SUPER effing loud! Like, if we were all sitting in the living room and she was listening to music on her headphones, we would all have to raise our voices to be heard over the music. Crazy. I wasn't super keen on Karin. Oh, and she comes from California. That's all.

Berit (Mama Bear) - Mama Bear! Berit was from Germany and was the only one that came here for vacation. She has a real job and graduated from University a while ago; she just wanted to have a good time and do something new. She was also incredibly tall! A good 5 inches or so taller than me. She was the oldest out of all the students and really ended up taking care of us (hence the call-name). She always had the flat keys and made sure everyone was either on their way to bed or in bed before she went to bed. She was also one of the founding members of Delta Squad, though I don't think she was necessarily ready for this honor. Haha. She didn't seems super keen on the call-names either at first, though she eventually warmed up and realized that we were just all having fun (mostly me). She worked quite hard at the archaeology and I think she picked up on a lot of it really quickly. Another person I really would like to keep in contact with. Very cool person, if not a little too mothering to some of her cubs (all of us).

Harriet (Watchtower) - Harriet was kind of the wild-card of the group. Not in that she was actually wild; far from it! She was really quiet and reserved, but incredibly friendly! She had a super dry sense of humor on some occasions. She's from Sydney, Australia and doesn't like vegemite. She kind of just sat in the back of the group for a lot of the trip, though she was definitely not boring. She was kind of a wallflower, which is a distinctly calming force in some groups. Harriet also has the singular distinction of coming up with her own call-name, which is really quite a feat, considering how good a name it is. Another person that I would really like to keep in contact with, especially 'cause if I go to Sydney, her brother is a DJ who apparently knows a ton of people and gets into places for free. Bonus points.

Ok, did you guess the secret yet? Yep. I was the ONLY GUY in the group of students. Blarg... I guess there were others that were supposed to come, but they all dropped out for one reason or another. This wasn't necessarily a good or a bad thing, but it definitely changed group dynamics. I got a LARGE portion of the ribbing going on from, well, everyone, but specifically from Murray and Martin. I also ended up doing a hell of a lot of the root removal, which was not an easy job. I guess having to grow up with three older sisters helped out with my comfort-level though. Luckly.

Anyway, that's the end of the first installment! If I wrote it all down in one go, it'd be so long no-one would read it (like anyone does anyway) and I'd also be sitting down for eight hours. So, I'm breaking it up into a few pieces.
Until then!

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