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Archaeological Investigations in Belize, Central America- 2003, 2004

BEMEP- Online Field Journal, Summer 2004  

24 May, 2004

 Field update-
On the way to the airport today to pick up Tracy.  We will be in Punta Gorda tonight and then on the way to Pusilhá first thing in the morning.   Spent last week clearing and laying out grids.  M-OP4, in the plaza of Group D in Minanhá’s site core, was finished on Monday.  Next came clearing and layout of M-OP1 in the Minanhá Regional Survey (MRS) area.  We started on Monday afternoon with this grid and had it finished by noon on Thursday.  The finished size is 50 meters by 115 meters.  As we are only using a sighting compass for layout I was worried about the accuracy over such a long distance.  The grid ended up being very square, out by only about 40 centimeters at the last shot.  I consider this to be very accurate for the purposes of  our geophysical survey. 

 Another photo looking south down the center of M-OP1, with the transect cleared for data collection. 
We had some snake encounters during the week.  First, I had a fer-de-lance, the one locally known as "barba amarilla", crawl between my feet as we were chopping at M-OP1.  I believe they call it "barba amarilla", or yellow beard, because if you are bitten by it you start frothing at the mouth, and then die.  The name really doesn't refer to the way the snake itslef looks.  Mine was small, about 14 inches long.  Apparently they can grow to 5 or 6 feet in length.  Actually studies by the British indicate that only one out of every 8 bites results in venom being injected.  So there is a good chance of survival.  The second encounter with this snake was the next day.  One of the field school students was walking at dusk down a road that goes through the farm and the snake struck at her.  She had a scrath on one toe, it appeared that the other fang glanced off her toenail.  She was taken to the hospital for observation that night and is completely fine.   That same evening we found a coral snake, also very deadly, on the trail just behind my tent.  That one got away.  But the coral snake on our trail to the site the next morning wasn't so lucky.  The coral snake's mouth is so small that they can only bite in specific places, like between the toes or fingers.  Because of this they are less of a threat.  The barba on the other hand is agressive and will come after a person if it not left alone.  The two that I dealt with tried to get away, crawling a few feet and hiding.  They were promptly chopped with a machette.  These encounters were early in the week and apparently caused by the rain that had been falling for about 4 days.  The snakes were leaving their cover, which had become damp and cold, for warmer places.   By Friday the rain had ceased and it had warmed up.  I spent the weekend relaxing at the Martz Farm, without the company of snakes, and preparing for the week ahead a Pusilhá. 

The swimming hole at the Martz Farm.  The water is cold and very refreshing in this limestone-bottom creek. 
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