Today was our third day in the field. Our mission today was to uncover two more burials. We started bright and early at 6:30am, the coolest part of any day in Starr County, Texas. We had a slight cloud covering and a cool breeze to start our workday, which was incredibly motivating and refreshing, not to mention the gorgeous sunrise that occurred this morning.
We began our work by removing the tarp we used to shade the 1st burial from the sun and any passersby. The tarp worked nicely to protect the burial from the rain last night. After removing the tarp, we began our exhumation process. Because it was cool this morning, we each took 10 minute turns working in the pit. We decreased our turn time to 5 minutes as the day wore on, due to the hot sun.
We removed 2 burials from the pit today. In the morning, the dirt was softened from the rain making it much softer in consistency and easier to remove. As we dug deeper into the pit, the soil was much drier and more difficult to get through than the top muck layer. As we got closer to the burial, the stratigraphy took on a clay layer, which was most difficult to get through. A mattock has proven to be completely essential in this process due to the clay layer. It is also very fun to use.
The burials we removed today were much easier to remove than the one from yesterday. Yesterday’s burial (the 1st) went deep into the eastern wall of our pit, making it extremely difficult to remove. Today’s burials did not extend deep into either the eastern or western walls, making them much easier to exhume.
After removing the 3rd burial from the pit, we decided that we needed to move further toward the north end of our area. We asked Silvestre to come back with his backhoe to fill in the pit most of the way while digging the northern most wall back several inches allowing us to continue our exhumations. As he filled in the pit with the dirt that had been removed previously, we asked him to create a ramp for us so that we could safely enter and exit the pit since our stairs were destroyed when he took down a portion of the northern-most wall. After Silvestre finished with our pit, we cleaned up our area and cracked open our bottles of Coke. We decided yesterday when we were at H-E-B to get one Coke for each of us for each of the next three days. It has become our tradition to crack open a cold bottle of Coke when we finish our work for the day. There is something truly wonderful about a glass bottle of Coke at the end of a long day. We did a quick toast and then our group picture for the day. Today we decided to do our group picture in the van in the A/C.
Today was an extremely successful day. We worked efficiently and very well as a team. This allowed us to uncover two burials and work safely. We implemented a 5-minute work time followed by a 5-minute break. On each break, we would drink a lot of water and reapply sunscreen. We implemented these rules to avoid anyone having heat stroke. These rules will be essential in the coming days as the temperature increases steadily.
I am truly amazed by my teammates. I appreciate so much the communication they have with each other and me. When something needs to be done, we are not offended by instruction from another person. When we are in each other’s way, we are not offended by a “move.” It is amazing what can be accomplished by teamwork. I am very much looking forward to the next two days of field work. We have experienced both trials and tribulations, but we continue to move forward, finding new and improved ways to do things along the way. Tomorrow is a new day and I am looking forward to seeing what it brings.