St. Eustatius Airport Expansion Project: Day 7 (April 27, 2021)
There's not much about today that I'm able to elaborate on at this point in time. However, I will note that there has been a noticeable shift in the dynamic of our project. I'll try to explain:
Every excavation project that I have participated in goes through a period that I refer to as "the push." It usually comes about a week in, and it's when the project director gets a good sense of the team's work ethic and abilities, allowing him or her to get a sense of where the excavation stands in relation to the team's strengths and their likelihood of achieving the goals that need to be accomplished in the time allotted. It can be a hard time for a team (not to mention the director) because it usually means more work at a faster pace, without sacrificing the integrity of the archaeology. On an excavation like this, it's necessary for the work to become a sort of production line. Once this balance is achieved, a natural rhythm usually begins to emerge. But the process of getting to that point can be exhausting because, inevitably, everybody feels like they're underachieving at first.
I'm no different-particularly because there's only one of me. Things can grind to a halt if I'm not right where I'm needed right away. There's nothing more stressful than having a group of workers waiting for me to finish what I need to do in order for them to keep going with their work. "The push," for me, always marks the beginning of a tense period. On most digs, that feeling disappears after a few days. However, the nature of this excavation makes it likely that it will last for the duration (7 more weeks). Being cognizant of all of this helps me mitigate the stress, because I've learned over the last 20 years that it's part of the natural lifecycle of fieldwork- at least in my experience.
Today was, I believe, the beginning of "the push," and right on queue, too (it's a day shy of one week). It'll be a little chaotic for a few days and then, like a finely tuned engine, it will begin to run smoothly with minimal thought or effort- but still a LOT of work. Our group is assimilating to this new phase with much grace, which is a credit to both the director and his senior staff and area supervisors. Unlike many projects I've worked for, there's a level of inclusiveness, transparency, and decisiveness here that is so rare to find in the field because egos usually get in the way. That simply doesn't exist here, and I am very grateful for that.
I promise that I'll be able to elaborate a little more on what it is we're doing here in the near future, but I simply cannot get ahead of our project's (and the Statian government's) public outreach plan, which is absolutely critical for a successful outcome. The thoughtfulness behind every step of this is both necessary and appropriate, and I'm truly honored to be a part of it.