Here we are at the end of day 2 (in the field) and I have been stuck by more sticker burrs than I can keep track of. It is a love/hate relationship, me and sticker burs; I hate them and they seem to love me. These sticker burrs are also different than the burr you would find in Indiana; in Texas, they are small, sphere shaped with tiny knives that stick to everything. In my original post, I thought scorpions were going to be my kryptonite but no, it is the dreaded Texas sticker burr.
Reflecting back on today, I am astonished at the amount progress that has been accomplished within our group as well as the Texas State group. It was an early morning for everyone; arriving at the cemetery at 7am, our groups immediately got down to work. There were three groups working on three different areas of the cemetery and although we were all doing the same excavation work, at the same cemetery, with the same goals; we all faced different challenges.
One of the challenges our group faced was figuring out how to excavate an area that is comprised mostly of sand causing the walls of the burial to be completely unstable. This was an excellent example of teamwork and why having an open line of communication is important in field work. We were able to bounce ideas off each other and develop a not-so-standard solution on how to move forward with the excavation resulting in the recovery of two of the three burials.
Another challenge our group faced was being the center of attention to a large group of media personnel who were at the site in order to bring awareness to this humanitarian issue. It was not until I was able to step back after my excavation rotation that I realized how many people were actually filming us. In the moment, it may appear troublesome having so many people crowding such a small area but it is a small price to pay for all of the positive attention it is bringing to the crisis here in South Texas.
After each burial excavation is completed, the remains are taken into a private tent area where all the remains and personal belongings are inventoried. Once the inventory is completed, the remains and personal belongings are prepared to be sent to Texas State University for analysis. What we are currently doing in South Texas really is a small first step, in the longer more complicated process that takes place after the remains arrive back at Texas State University.
Today was a pleasant mixture of exhaustion and excitement as we were able to take that first step in the long process of getting these individuals identified and repatriated. At the end of the day, we are all in high spirits….. exhausted.. but in high spirits as we sit around the table wrapping up day 2 by completing our evening tasks of blogging, mapping, note taking, and logging photos. Its hard to think that this is only day 2 and that we only have 7 days left. I am excited to see what the next week may bring us since we have plans for visiting the Humanitarian Respite Center and traveling to the border. It has certainly been an eye opening experience thus far and I imagine that after volunteering at the Human Rights Center and visiting the various places that it will only become richer. Until next time…