August 13, 2012
Today began with the most fantastic surprise. Julio brought me CORES!
Wild rocks are big, and messy, and plants grow on them and sheep make messes on them (especially here!) and they tend to fall apart. So if a company or academic group has money and wants to know more about rocks, they take a core. Picture putting a straw into the rocks, holding your thumb over the top, and pulling it out. It’s exactly like that! Only it costs at least ten thousand dollars and half the time everything in the tube breaks.
I thought Julio said he’d bring me photographs of some kind of holes from one of our field sites. No. He brought me these rock cores from inside the earth, totally perfect clean rocks, of exactly what I’m looking at here in the mountains. We poured water on them to make the fossils clear. Julio had looked through photos to decide which cores from the company collections might interest me most. He chose wisely. They were amazing! They contained diffinitive evidence of some of the phenoms we’re chasing – the mass extinction, the impact on local rock development, the rise of sponges.
The rest of the day was a bit of a struggle. I was again managing a team, with so many language limitations, and so many ambitions. I feel exactly like this on every trip. If I only had one more week, one more day, one more hour.
I was working, balancing time limits, detailed notes, vertical relief. Meanwhile the geologists above me were scaling the cliffs like eagles. That’s when I shot this video. This is how I feel all day every day out here. Outwardly, it’s business business business, but inside, I am shouting this:
[video coming when I can figure out how to upload it]
As a grad student, I have to select a set of problems I can handle now, and accumulate interesting investigations for the future. Dave says, “Those are projects for you future master’s students.” He’s right.
Today I needed to work with finality. Measure, sample, select, choose. Though I’ve got this great team, I can only be in one spot at a time. When should I take the photos I need? Should I take them now with the sun casting shadows or wait for the perfect diffused cloudy light? Should I call one objective a bust and move on to the next?
But as I joked repeatedly to my team today, I’d take the whole mountain if I could, and I never want to leave.
We worked our tails off, ate lunch, worked again. I managed to explain the American adage, “I’ll work when I’m dead”, which we all thought was ridiculous. I told the geologists that since they work so efficiently, they could take the precision attack jobs, and I’d take the careful plodding thoughtful musing jobs.
In the end, we got it all done. Well, whatever we didn’t get is fruit for another trip, another team, geology students from the university in Lima. I finally agreed to leave and go back to the trucks, but then I heard hammering. Sure enough, the guys were trying to sample some more. Again I agreed to leave twenty minutes later, and again, I heard more hammering behind me. Good geologists never want to leave the outcrop.
So it was almost sunset when we left. Everyday we pass through this flock once or twice, with the shepherd and her sheep dog and puppy. But today, on the road, we saw two little lost lambs all alone.
[video as soon as I figure it out]