Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ni Chac, Hoch, and Africanos, Oh My!

Well so far the work has continued well at Xtobo. The system of trails providing access to the site is over half done, and lots of great architecture is emerging from the forest. Next week the work crew should jump from 6 people to 10, so we should start moving much more quickly.

The most notable feature of the week though would have to be the army of insects present at Xtobo. The workers repeatedly ran into nests of Ni Chak, a local species of hornet. Even my ayudantes (helpers) Scott Johnson and Dan Griffin felt their wrath. We also spotted a few Hoch, which are giant inch long ants. So far I have avoided their bite, but, so I’m told, they are as painful as the Ni Chak. And, last but not least, was a nest of Africanos. And for those of you wondering, yes, that does mean Africans. But in this case it refers to the Africanized Honey Bees, or as they are better known in the States, “Killer Bees.” That lovely name was of course propagated by our wonderfully hyperbolic media outlets, but none the less they are not pleasant creatures. They have a tendency to swarm attack, which is what makes them dangerous. So far we have avoided any incidents, and I hope it will remain that way.

There are of course gentler creatures to be found in the environs. A small but unmistakably cute snail oozed its way across our path earlier in the week. There was a certain lizard who just refused to stop sunning himself in the open trail. Every time I passed by he ran for cover as if his life depended on it, but each time I returned he was back out in the open. And before leaving the site on Friday afternoon Anselmo brought us a turtle that he had found hiding under his bag of gear. The poor little guy wanted nothing more than to find some shelter, but he was denied his release a few times to show him off to someone new. But in the end he was allowed to run, or rather crawl, free.


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