Friday, April 1, 2016

Indiana Mom...

Every year since my son was small I set up a Christmas village.  It was my answer to the doll house I never had as a child - playing with little figures, setting up scenes.  My approach was an attempt to create a microcosm of our neighborhood and I would look for houses and figures that resembled people and places in our community.

It took several years to find little figures that my son and I felt were appropriate representations of ourselves to place in front of the little LeMax house that looked like our ranch: a wizard for him and a khaki wearing, whip bearing adventuress that my son dubbed "Indiana Mom".  I painted a white streak in front of her hair and felt extremely satisfied when I placed her in the batting.

I don't know what drives me.  I think I've told you, dear readers, that my mother once informed me that the gypsies left me.  I found that to be a perfectly reasonable and plausible explanation for why I was always on the move.  Gypsies also call themselves travelers and, even when I was very young and there was only one travel show on the black and white TV I watched at my grandmother's (anyone recall Gunther Leiss?), I was glued to it and vowed that someday I'd go to all those places.

As of this moment, I have logged somewhere in the neighborhood of what I consider to be a paltry 27 countries.  And my thirst for the world is not yet slaked.  Furthermore, unlike some of my friends who are "one and done" with countries they visit as they attempt to increase their lists, I can't help but fall in love with places and will visit them multiple times.  Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Honduras, ...I've lost count of how many times I've been to these places.  To me, it's like visiting old friends or lovers.  It's comfortable, I recognize the "face" of the place, relive old memories and make new ones.

All of this is to reveal a return to another old friend - Belize - and an adventure that feels so exciting, speaks so clearly to who I am, who I love to be, that I have literally been running around jumping for joy over it.

Photo taken from '07 trip to Altun Ha and Lamanai in Belize.

Just yesterday I was accepted to work on the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance project.  My graduate work was in art/art history/archaeology and going on a dig was always a dream for me.  But I was a single mom when I was in grad school and an experience like this was neither financially nor logistically possible. 

Now, lest someone get the idea that I have no idea what I'm in for, let me state that I know that fieldwork in the jungle is hot, dirty, sweaty, and nothing like the fast-paced movie depiction of everyone's favorite archaeology professor, Indiana Jones.  But, as I prepare for this trip, I do feel like that little Christmas village figure representative of myself - dressed in BDU cargo pants and ready for adventure.

However, since this trip also provides educational credit through Northern Arizona University and I will likely be working alongside high school and college students...I promise to leave the whip home!