Thursday, July 29, 2010

After about 12 hours of travel on Tuesday, I arrived safely in Teuchitlán. Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding about when I was arriving, so the person who was supposed to meet me and take me to my new home wasn’t here, so I had to spend the night in a cheap hotel in town. The next day I learned that there wasn’t actually a place for me to live—one possibility had been located, but I needed to go check it out and make arrangements to rent it. We went to visit the place, and it is pretty miserable, but it may be my only option. It is a single room above an empty garage located along the highway that passes outside of town. It does have running water and a light bulb, but that is about it. The noise from the highway is loud and constant with cars, trucks, and hundreds of buses a day. The single room in the house faces the highway and the entire front wall from waist-height up is made up of windows, so I would have to cover them to dampen the noise and so people on the road wouldn’t see into my room. The landlord is hesitant to rent it to me, though, because I do not have anyone he considers appropriate to cosign the loan with me. He wants someone with money and who is a life-long resident of the town. Since we couldn’t come to an agreement yesterday, I had to sleep on a painful love seat in the lab for the night. Today we still couldn’t come to an agreement, so I’m sleeping in the lab again but on a cot this time. To be honest, I think I’d rather stay here than rent the other place, so perhaps I will just live in the lab on the cot until something else comes up for rent in the town. The lab does have a shower (but no hot water) and a bathroom, so the only things missing are a place to hang my laundry to dry and a place to cook and store food.

We have changed labs again this year, and the one we have now is by far the best we have had. It is much lighter thanks to the larger space, the white walls, and the presence of several windows and sky lights. There is plenty of room for all our crates of artifacts and our work tables and the atmosphere is much less gloomy than in the previous labs. This lab is toward the western edge of town, where buildings are further apart and more of the lots are used for raising animals than in the middle of town. We are near the new church, so the church bells wake me in the morning when they announce that it is time to get up to attend the 7am mass. The streets around us are all still cobble stone, unlike most near the center of town which are now paved with cement blocks. It is a pretty peaceful area, but not always very quiet. There are frequent noises from the animals around us, from the people and workshops nearby, and from the highway, which is only a block or two away. Some time I want to record the noises in the morning hours to share with you all so you can hear what a town in Mexico sounds like. It is nothing like my nearly silent suburban life in the US!

This week’s photo is taken out one of the windows of our lab. You can see the wet cobblestone street (it is rainy season here) and the horses that live across it. Horses are important here in Teuchitlán. Many people raise them here, and they are still a major mode of transportation. Some of our workers even ride them to work regularly.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Returning to Mexico

I'm getting ready to go back to Mexico for a 5-month stay. This will hopefully be the final data collection trip as I work on my dissertation. As in previous years, I will be living and working in the village of Teuchitlán in Jalisco. This is a town of a few thousand people located about an hour west of Guadajara at the foot of the Tequila Volcano.

During my other trips, I have sent out email updates of my adventures in archaeology in Mexico, but I decided that switching to a blog format would make more sense this time around. I'm hoping to get the chance to go back in and add many of my older messages from years past and share those older photos, but my internet time in Mexico is very limited. So we shall see how it goes! This is my first experience blogging, so hopefully it goes well!

I'll be leaving early Tuesday morning to make the flights from Kentucky to Guadalajara. From the airport, my trip to Teuchitlán consists of a half-hour taxi ride followed by a 2-hour bus ride. If all goes well, I will be at my new home about 12 hours after leaving my home in Kentucky. This year will be a mixture of the old and new for me-- the artifacts I'm analyzing and many of my coworkers are old friends, but the lab building and my home will both be new to me. As always, I'm very nervous and anxious about my husband, family, friends, and all the comforts of home for a very different life. Everything is different in Teuchitlán from the language to the food to the pattern of daily life.