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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Summer Camp for Adults

IMG_2013Digging in the dirt, staying outside far too long, carrying your lunch from home.  Unless you’re on a university-students-only archaeological dig, many field schools resemble summer camp for adults.

Mostly highly-intelligent, middle-aged, or retired, men and women.  Those who can laugh at themselves and at life.  Those who are philosophical and encouraging.  Those who like to kibbitz and shmooze.

I guess I fit in, lol.

It’s really a very pleasant atmosphere if you only take away the heat, the dust, and the back-breaking labor.  The IMG_2042dryness of mouth and the sunburned face or body, no matter how much sunscreen, and how many clothes you wear.  (Today, the sun burned right through my white cotton, long-sleeved, tunic top-!)  Plus, my chin and one square centimeter at the base of my neck apparently were exposed and burned, never mind the sunscreen slathered on every hour, on the hour.

The retirees speak about what kind of car they drove in early adulthood, and how cool they felt.  The middle-aged folks speak of what their husband or wife told them the other day, and everyone nods understandingly.  Some have just returned to university after 40 years (how timely-!) and we commiserate over some stupid, required course, that has nothing to do with their new major.

European universities don’t mandate such nonsense, I remind them.

IMG_2017We chat about world travel, and which cities have the best museums.  We talk about our lunchbox items and why we packed what we did.  I overhear one university student lecturing a middle-aged woman about proper nutrition, while the young advisor munches on popcorn, beef jerky, and Gatorade.

Which I semi-understand:  the students are camping.  Whatever they bring to the site needs to be able to survive without refrigeration, and probably hails from the local 7-Eleven.  If it were moi, I might choose a donut and a Slushee (sugar-free, to balance out the rest), so who am I to judge?

The kids tend to sit in the sun, feet dangling over on the bridge overlooking a creek.  The older folks bring folding IMG_2015camp chairs, which are placed in the shade in a big circle.  Professionals often perch on overturned buckets.  The two of us bring our pseudo-camp chairs, with three legs not the most comfortable, but certainly beats sitting on the ground on the trash bag that I normally carry in my backpack for just-in-case circumstances such as these.

The adults know how to handle the side-by-side porta-pots, outlining a protocol, a certain etiquette that all follow:  men may not use the “ladies’ room”, but women who wish to, may use the “men’s room”.  It is best to close the seat after you are finished with your business, to make a more attractive entry for the next customer coming that way.  Then the ladies took to placing folded toilet paper over their business in the pot, which was not going away any time soon.

Our hand-washing station went dry early on.  This time I think it was the professors who improvised, finally pouring buckets of stream water into the tank.  Not entirely sanitary, but with the anti-bacterial soap, good enough.  It sure beat using some of our precious drinking water, of which we needed every drop.

Heading for the porta-pot before they shut them down and lock buckets of artifacts inside for the night, it’s then that I realize:  my teen son can last 11 hours without using the rickety restroom, even after multiple bottles of water.  Sorry if that’s TMI.

Most of the professionals are very generous with their time and advice.  Most of the excavators love to talk.  Altogether, it’s a pretty fun time, and best of all, home and bed look really, really good after a long day-!


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