The first week of actual work at the Puchituk Terminus got off to a slow start.
Diane was still here for her initial visit and on Monday we went out to Puchituk in the morning to assess what needed to be done. The men were bushing the main plaza and attempting to find groups to brush for excavation, but the treefall was exceedingly nasty. Monday afternoon, she and I went into town as she flew back to Las Vegas on Tuesday; we had intended to meet with John Morris that evening, but he was told he had to go to Milwaukee on short notice (to open the Maya exhibit there).
On Tuesday, I left Diane at the airport in mid-morning, having picked up 100 lbs of chicken and over 100 lbs of pork and beef in two coolers. Then I picked up vegetables from Brian in Belmopan, filled up with diesel, and went back into Caracol. Adrian and Amy were working with Gabriella, Faydt, and Roxayn in the lab and going over field recording.
Wednesday was the first real day of excavation. The large elite group at Puchituk, nicknamed “Sage,” was the focus of two excavations. The original small eastern trench was reopened and the carved stela was relocated. The carving on the monument is only preserved on the section of the stela that was sealed by the upper floor; it is the middle part of a monument; we do not know where the actual butt of the stela is located. Two large trees over this excavation impeded work. The southern building in Sage had been looted and we had our men plug up the looters’ hole in the side of the structure so that the stone building on top did not collapse. We then began clearing the building at the summit of the southern pyramid in order to obtain its plan. The men had also cleared a residential group southwest of Sage that we had excavated in the early 1990s, re-finding an open and collapsed chultun in front of the north building.
Almost due south of Sage, on the side of Puchituk Hill, we located a small residential group that we nicknamed “Cheech.” We open up two excavations in Cheech. One was an axial trench through the east building and the other was a trench over an alleyway between the two north buildings. The Puchituk Plaza bushing is still proceeding; the plaza is really quite large.
Wednesday night we had torrential rain and thunderstorms and woke up with a huge pool of water in front of the zinc guest huts (“Lake Caracol”). As it was still raining at 7 AM, we waited until 8 AM to go down the road, only to find a huge tree over the road near the site museum with the caretakers chopping at it with two axes (they had said that they had a functioning chainsaw, but they did not). Needless to say we returned to camp. There we had an early lunch and, after the caretakers had cut through the tree and cleared the road, we went out to Puchituk Terminus for the afternoon at 11:30 AM. We had trouble locating the two western residential groups that I wanted to excavate because of all of the treefall on Puchituk Hill. Realizing that we really needed a chainsaw in order to get up and running, on Friday I dropped everyone off at the path to walk into Puchituk and kept going out “to town.” Water was coming over the Guacamallo Bridge, but I got was able to pass (later over 20 tourists made it into Caracol in spite of the water coming over the bridge). I was going to Spanish Lookout, but the Belize River was in flood stage and the bridge was under water, making Spanish Lookout off limites, so I went to Belmopan where Brian loaned me a chainsaw and we bought items to go with it (so that we would be completely functional). Then, I drove back into camp, picking people up for lunch on the way; they then walked out again after lunch.
Next week we are taking lunches with us, as the walk is ca. 30 minutes each way for “in-shape” people. On Saturday, I dropped off everybody to go out to Puchituk, but stayed with 3 men who were pumping water (intending to go out with them); it took them until 10 AM to get the water pumped, so I then had them chop wood and then collected everyone at noon (Saturday is a half day). The chainsaw start mechanism had failed after cleaning most of the path into the Terminus and the trees over the Sage eastern excavation, so I sent out another message to Brian to please buy another chainsaw and send it in on Monday with the scheduled caretaker run. Sunday was indeed a day of needed rest.