Friday, July 17, 2009

Beyond Frustruating!

So let me start by saying that we are on week five without a fridge. That basically sums up where everything comes from. This has gone from annoying and inconvenient to dangerous to my daughter's health. She's lost a kilo (for you non-metric people out there, about 2 pounds) since we came here, and I attribute it directly to not being able to store any food in the house because we don't have a fridge. No milk, yogurt, or cheese. No fruits or vegetables that you can't eat in a day or two because if you don't the flys or ants will get at it. No making food and keeping the left overs, lots of waste, etc. And to this date our landlord has only made a half hearted attempt to get it fixed despite my constant nagging, but then was surprised when he asked me for the rent today and I asked him for the fridge. And now he's gone and left for Puerto Rico for a month, which leaves us where exactly?

Then comes along Porta (the telecommunications company) and their lousy website and even lousier customer service. We got a pre-pay internet thing for the house, which costs dearly, but we decided that for our research and our sanity, we need it. Well, the website messes up and ends up eating $17 of our dollars, but the online Porta people refuse to acknowledge any fault or refund our money, and our only recourse is to travel 2 hours each way to the nearest customer service center to file a complaint and try to get our money back, which seems like it wouldn't happen anyway. Thanks so much!

Also, the supposed caretakers of this house when the landlord is gone (the same ones that were ripping me off to cook for us) stole my telephone and also the landlord's camera and cash. There's no proof, but they're the only ones who had access. And so the question remains, why the hell is he allowing them to keep living in the house (for free) on his property instead of kicking them and their six bark-all-night dogs to the curb?

I'm so ready to go postal on people that it's not even funny.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oh yeah, the archaeology

So I guess I'm a little behind on updating about my project. We're entering the fourth week of the project now, which I find really hard to believe. We started working at what we've called the cistern, a depression on the top of a hill that was supposedly filled with water and used as part of a Manteno irrigation system.
Now, after a few weeks of digging a trench into the side of the thing, I am pretty confident that it never held water, or at least never intentionally. It looks as if it was a natural depression that was dug out and used as a trash pit, possibly for a single event, like a feast. The analysis is on-going, of course, but we're hauling bags of ceramics out of each level, and tons of big charcoal fragments for dating, and finding some cool things like copper bells and tweezers, spindle whorls, a human hand, and the first obsidian blade for the site.

We also began some work at the platform mound by digging test pits every 5m in the surrounding area. Differences in soil types will tell us if there was any surface preparation (possibly for a plaza) and also give us a sense of the usage intensity across that space. So far the deposits are the same across 50-100m and give no indication of a prepared floor. Artifacts are few in number, but there do appear to be some hot spots. Once we wrap up things at the "cistern" (which will be tomorrow if the powers-that-be cooperate), we'll head down to the m
ound to finish test pitting and begin excavations of the mound itself.

The "laboratory" (my living room) is quickly filling up with bags of artifacts that need to be washed, labeled, and photographed. Lab work is much trickier when you have a toddler who wants to look at all the pieces too. Hopefully we can work out some kind of storage solution within the next few days, or at least a way to cordon off that space.

My helper (aka Taylor) leaves for home on Sunday, so I'm trying to make the most of the time that we have!
Taylor holding the first piece of ceramic that she found at the site!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Overdue Update

Things have been pretty crazy down here lately, and we've spent a lot more time getting to know the staff at the hospital at Manglaralto than I'm really happy with.

Last week I went in because of a high fever and body aches, and people in the village were concerned about Dengue. The doctor who did the exam on Thursday gave an initial diagnosis of Dengue, but wanted me to come back on Friday when the lab was open. Taylor was with me and spoke with the doctor about the stomach problems she was having and was given some rehydration drink mix and sent home. We came back on Friday morning for my blood draw (I will say, that was one of the best blood draws I've ever had), but had to wait until the afternoon for the results, so since Baby Girl had been suffering from a cough an
d an on-and-off fever for about a week, we brought her in to be seen too. Generally good news all around, I don't have Dengue (just a virus) and Baby Girl's lungs were clear. They gave us an antibiotic for her since her throat was irritated and swollen, and some paracetemol for the fever.

On Wednesday Taylor went back to the hospital by herself because of continuing stomach issues. The doctor that time wanted to do an HIV test, because of course a young, single gringa staying anywhere near Montanita must be doing drugs and having unprotected sex. Didn't even want a fecal culture done.

On Thursday Taylor started getting a rash around her hairline, and by Friday morning it was covering her entire body. We went in to the hospital, saw yet a different doctor, who gave her a cortisone injection and told her to start taking her Cipro
for the stomach problems and keep taking Benadryl for the rash. She's doing much better overall, but yesterday her lip started to swell randomly, which makes us wonder if she's having a reaction to the Cipro.

Around this time Baby Girl's illness really started going into high gear. Her fever was basically constant and she became really lethargic and didn't want to eat or drink anything, so we started giving her the antibiotic and the parecetemol. Basically she was just sleeping all day and definitely not being herself. Last night this came to a head when we realized she only had one wet diaper the entire day and that even with the paracetemol her underarm temperature was 38.7 (101.7). So we wandered the village looking for someone with a car who wasn't at the epic 5 hour comuna meeting and could take us to the Emergency room at the hospital.

Just before we left I gave her a dose of Motrin, so by the time we got there her fever was starting to come down and she was a little more alert (as alert as she could be at 11 at night). There was a different doctor there that time, who said Baby Girl didn't need an antibiotic, as the red throat was just from the nasal drainage. And as far as the fever goes, we learned two things: 1) the last doctor we saw gave us the incorrect dosage for the Tylenol they gave us, so she was only getting a quarter of the dose she should have been, so no wonder it wasn't working, and 2) never give anyone anything other than Tylenol when they have a fever because of the incidence of Dengue Fever in the area. Other medicines can cause complications like intern
al bleeding and nasty things.

The doctor was concerned about her lack of eating and drinking, but not concerned enough to want to do an IV just then. She sent us home with some rehydration stuff and told us to make her drink for 4 hours, and if at the end of that she didn't pee, then to bring her back. Well, we tried, but there's only so much you can stick down a baby's throat when she's already upset and sad and tired. So we did our best but then everyone passed out.

Today she's doing much better. The correct dose of Tylenol is actually keeping the fever down and she's been eating and drinking an ok amount today. We've had several wet diapers, so I'm feeling much happier today than yesterday, even if Baby
Girl isn't back to her old self yet.

In other news, we have internet! We went to Libertad yesterday to the Porta store to buy the equipment, and are doing a pay-as-you-go thing, so that we can have internet access in the house when we need it. I'm sure the grandparents will appreciate being able to do video Skype with Baby Girl too!
Baby Girl playing with the broom on the porch, one of her favorite pasttimes.

Baby Girl got pig tails for the first time last week! Her hair is finally getting long enough to do stuff with, but Taylor says she looks like she has a mullet because it's still so short in the front. She also started at Ecuadorian day care last week, which solves one of our concerns. It seems like it will be a good situation once she's healthy enough to go back (and to those who are concerned, she was sick first).

We also solved our other stress issue by firing our cook who was really over charging us. We're back to eating at the restaurant in town for the time being, but we have a few leads for someone who can cook for us. We've also been without a refrigerator since about our third day here, which makes it really hard to fend for ourselves, but it's looking like it should be fixed and back in the house by the end of this week, just in time for Taylor to go back home . Now if we can just get rid of the flies that seem to have invaded the house and fix the voltage problems that are plaguing us, we'll be all set!