Monday, June 9, 2008

"Get out of the library!"

Well, as is my custom, I've barely slept in the 48 hours leading up to my imminent departure (15 minutes away). Ultimately, Andrea convinced that 2-of-48 was a poor sleep-to-awake ratio, so I grabbed four more hours, but it's been almost as hectic as all my pre-travel whirlwinds, though Andrea says "you're improving." Still, we did carve out a couple quality hours to spend with that icon and role model of civic engagement and social science: Indiana Jones. In one scene, after Indy and his new sidekick crash a motorcycle into a library full of square 1957 college students, Professor Jones adomishes the gawkers as he zooms off: "If you want to be a good archaeologist, you have to get out of the library!"

Well, this particular summer excursion and research trip has taken about... 20 months of preparation, but we are indeed about to get out of the library and into the field, and I'm really excited about many things. Still, the last 24 hours have been more about who I'm leaving behind for these initial weeks, rather than what I'm looking forward too. Andrea and Araminta are excited to join us in Ecuador in July, but until then, five weeks is a really long time for me to be away from my family. Araminta, now 2 years and seven months old, has never been away from her Papa for more than two weeks, and Andrea and I have only been apart for such a long stretch once before in our 12 years as a couple.

I'm really excited about our core research project, as well as our multiple side projects (there are always a lot of those!), but for me it's always about the people. It's been a mad task coordinating the schedules of our Peruvian collaborators Jesús and César, our camera-clicking Californian James, Nicole, and the whole Dosh Galdames clan, but it's finally all set, and I'm delighted to be working with this amazingly talented and competent team. I've done fieldwork with all of them before except Nicole, but Nicole and I have been working together since her first day of college in September 2006, so in some ways I've worked more with her than some of the other team members.

The first couple weeks, which may be the most intense of the trip, will be just Nicole, me, and César in La Paz/El Alto, so I've been pretty focused on that. We'll meet up with Dave Holman (Carleton class of 2006) and Rommy Cornejo Diaz on Tuesday in La Paz, who, tragically, have decided to welcome us back to Bolivia by taking us salsa dancing. Somehow I will endure.

Lots more to write, but Andrea and Ara are ready to take me to the airport. Wow, it's finally happening, after so many hurdles and twists and turns. ¡Vamos! Time to get out of the library.


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