July 4, 2004

The past week has been quite exciting - new excavations, the announcement of the hominin fossil, handaxes appearing in our excavations at site CL1-1 and now we all deserve a day of rest. I like to call Sundays the "Etch-a-Sketch" day, where we turn our thoughts over, shake them a bit, and start the week with a clean slate. We get an extra hour or so of sleep, and breakfast is served at 8 instead of 6:45 am. The cooks prepare a treat for us - French toast with golden syrup, which is, without fail, delicious. We then spend the day relaxing or catching up on work.

I try to make sure that the food here is very good for all the visiting scientists, students, and the excavation crew. Once a week, a truck drives to Nairobi to pick up food and other supplies we need. During the week our three excellent cooks, King'ola, Francis, and Mutuku, prepare great dishes for us like roasted chicken, green salads, and curries, as well as more traditional Kenyan stews. Sometimes I try to surprise everyone by putting ice cream on the weekly food order, or by asking the cooks to make an apple pie, which they do to perfection.

Dinner preparations at camp

Even though we're out in the field, without running water or electricity, we are well fed due to the skill of the cooks, the convenience of propane-powered refrigerators, and clean water that we bring in large barrels from a deep local well twice a day. The food is cooked over charcoal fires contained in grills that are designed to support large pots and pans. The cooks improvise ovens by putting bread dough in metal pots with lids, and then covering the pots with hot coals and ashes. Having fresh-cooked food keeps the spirits of the whole team high.

Cooking soup