Hello all! My real name is Nicolette Husselbee, but here in the field I am known as Mary Poppins, or Jane from Tarzan (more on this later). I’ve been keeping a journal for this trip about my personal experiences as well as a way to record my new archaeological knowledge. My first journal entry is an ongoing list of what I’ve learned about this area of Northern New Mexico, which I’ve split into a series of facts and lessons.
Lesson 1: This is most definitely NOT New England. There is heat but no humidity, and people are very nice to strangers (the Albuquerque airport offered free citrus water and snacks in the baggage claim area. Logan airport in Boston needs to step it up!).
Lesson 2: The branches of juniper trees make surprisingly nice back rests while recording artifacts, if you can wedge yourself in properly.
Lesson 3: Do not attempt to wedge yourself underneath the cholla.
Lesson 4: “It is really hard to live communally” – Dr. Severin Fowels. This lesson was given to me on our first night here over a lovely dinner of homemade pizza, and to this day (Day Six) I’m not finding this lesson to be especially true. I feel very lucky that the members of this expedition are all wonderful to work and live with, especially my fellow Framingham State ladies and gent.
Lesson 5: If you’re going to be hiking for miles upon miles up and down the cliffs of a large gorge, you should eat snacks throughout the day for energy. Otherwise, you’ll likely crash at the end of the day just before making the final ascent back to the car at the top and have a really difficult time moving your legs.
Lesson 6: Archaeological evidence isn’t obvious. You have to be looking for specific characteristics in stones and land. If you train your eyes, you can almost definitely find archaeological evidence wherever you go.
Fact 1: A commonly seen cultural phenomenon here in New Mexico are Descansos, which can be found all along major roadways. They are highly ornamented and creative crosses and memorial stands for loved ones who had been involved in fatal car accidents.
Fact 2: Bridges over the highway have the names of the original Puebloan land areas in their original language. These are accompanied by beautiful works of art.
Fact 3: There are three major groups of people inhabiting this area. The Pueblo people are native to the land and have been here for many hundreds of years. The Hispanic population is also strong, and have been in the area for around 500 years. The final large group of people in this area are the Anglos, otherwise referred to as the hippies of the 1970’s. In some ways the lines between these peoples are strongly defined, but there is certainly blending between the groups as well.
Fact 4: The landscape used to be entirely waist-deep grassland, but overgrazing occurred and allowed sagebrush to take over (luckily for me, because I absolutely love sage).
Fact 5: Education is about more than what you learn in a classroom.
More information and adventures to come!
Signing off for now,