This has been the third day of 5:45 wake ups and each day I am slowly getting to breakfast later and later. Every day I have gotten in the pool but mainly for a type of medication. I never realized how much better mosquito bites feel in chlorine or maybe it’s just the water. I do not know but it’s about the only time in the day I am not scratching bites. Since I did not post yesterday I have two birds of the day but I am not going to give a list of the birds I saw since they are mostly duplicates. But yesterday’s bird of the day was the golden-fronted woodpecker and today’s bird of the day would have to be the summer tanager because I saw the male and female together almost the entire time.
Today was a big day on site and the team took a big step. For me this was a huge first of something I would not mind doing the rest of my life. Today I think everything really set in. I wrote earlier about the fact that these individuals were unknown. After accomplishing today’s task I really reevaluated life. There are so many things that come so easily and unexciting to many of us that we unconsciously take them for granted. I can’t sit here and say that I will never take anything for granted ever again. However I can say that each day is a gift and I am grateful. After the events today and after reading “Showdown in the Sonoran Desert” by Ananda Rose I was torn: I have read about the reasons why people leave in search for better lives but there is no way I can actually fathom it. Leaving family trying to make a better life for them is a sacrifice. Not knowing if what they seek to accomplish will be a success is also a sacrifice. These people are doing what they think is best and today I embraced that they are making the ultimate sacrifice. I am grateful to be a part of this group and to feel as though we are making some difference. I appreciate the welcome that we have received here in Falfurrias and hopefully we can continue to help this crisis and help people realize every little bit does help.
The early bird catches the worm. But what happens when you are earlier than the birds? Starting dark and early we beat the sun up as we headed to the cemetery. I was incredibly surprised at the temperature. For some reason I imagined the moment I stepped outside I was going to melt, but it was actually fairly decent for the first few hours. Getting started was very enlightening listening to the team go over the proper technique on how to grid. Being very active in sports, teamwork is something that comes natural. It was awesometo see that everyone was willing to work together to accomplish what we needed. After we completed our shovel shining we took a break and had lunch. I thought that it was a prime opportunity to go and do some bird watching. For those of you who do not know me or why I am constantly commenting about birds, I amcurrently finishing up an Ornithology class. This trip happens to fall right in the middle of the semester so I will be making up assignments here in Texas. So on lunch today I did not see very many birds, but I heard a lot of them. Of the birds I could identify were the Lesser Goldfinch, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, and an Oriental Turtle Dove (still getting verification). I think today I have to pick two birds of the day: the Ladder-backed Woodpecker and the Loggerhead Shrike. Once I got back from birding I grabbed some food and it was at this moment that my taste buds were as enlightened as I had been the entire day. The many of first experiences had continued. Today I had my first tamale…… and second ……. and my third tamale. Holy tamale they were amazing. I enjoy trying foods for the first time in an area they are particularly well known for. Actually I enjoy trying new food period. The temperature increased and we had come to the close of our day.
For the amount of work that was done today (although it was probably less than we will be doing for the rest of the project) it was a very rewarding feeling. Working together for a common cause makesmoments of accomplishments an overwhelming experience. I think this is a great group of people and I hope we accomplish everything we set forth to do without getting devoured by mosquitoes.
Thank you San Antonio for the biscuits and gravy! I thoroughly enjoyed breakfast. While making our way to Falfurrias I heard the exciting makings of a couple remixed 90s songs, “Highway to Fal” and “The Fal and the Furious (movie title but potential song). After failing miserably to bird watch from the car, I decided the time would pass a lot quicker if I went to sleep, so I did. My plan worked! Once I woke up we were in Falfurrias. Unfortunately, while I was sleeping I missed a bird that was seen by the team but I figured I would see it again later. Shortly after we arrived I experienced one of many first experiences, which was WHATABURGER (very popular in Texas). After eating I compiled my bird list for the day. My list consisted of a red-winged black bird, black vulture, turkey vulture, laughing gull, scissor-tailed flycatcher and more birds that I have not yet been able to identify but I’m sure I’ll get another chance. From the list of birds that I could recognize, my bird of the day would definitely have to be the scissor-tailed flycatcher. I will be looking at birds while here, so each day I hope to post a bird of the day or every other day. (Yesterday was a great day for birds in San Antonio; the team helped me find a yellow-crowned night-heron, great-tailed grackle, boat-tailed grackle, and a molted duck. Along with the house sparrow, rock dove, and mallard that I see in Indiana all the time. My day one bird of the day was the yellow-crowned night-heron). After the food and the birds we met up with the Baylor students and we headed to the cemetery.
Not being a part of the crew last year, this was going to be my first time going to the cemetery. I was not quite sure what to expect as my cemetery visits are kept to a minimum when I’m home. However I had a pretty basic idea of what I thought I was going to see. For the most part my impression of a cemetery is green cut grass and headstones in rows and around the cemetery. As we approached the cemetery the ideas of what I thought I would see, and what I actually saw were slightly different. The cemetery was very congested. There were far more headstones than I thought I would see. I am also familiar with flowers being on graves, but here I saw toys left on headstones, decorations like wind mills, along with flowers. Although some of these items look like they could be just decoration, they are surely sentimental and it gives that particular grave site its own identity. We went to look at the area that we are going to be working in and it was the complete opposite. There was no identity and although I am sure if has not yet sunk in completely, I was still saddened knowing that that there are individuals being buried with no identity to the naked eye (headstones, flowers, etc). After attending a funeral this past month it is hard to fathom the idea of not knowing or even being there for that person. I am grateful to be a part of this team and hopefully, although the graves are not distinguishable by some type of personality, we will be able to help identify these individuals and give some people peace of mind.