Something I really didn’t think that I had to contend with on this program abroad was forest fires. However, there have been large forest fires across the mountain every day for the last two days. Even though we could see them from Hotel Chiocchio, everything was safe and the fires were quickly subdued by the fire crews and helicopters full of water. The most unfortunate aspect of the whole fire ordeal was that the Piano della Civita was lit on fire, which is the area where our site is. The site is completely unharmed, but our fun cave night was put on a bit of a hold.
There is a cave near the site that is technically open to the public, but there’s no upkeep or anything similar to the public caves in the United States. Our last Wednesday night dinner in Artena was planned to be spent in this cave, eating pizza and having a good time with all the locals who volunteered to help us at our site this past month. We were all dressed in our dig clothes and steel-toed boots, sitting and waiting for the OK to head up to the cave. Unfortunately, because of the fire, we had to wait for Cecile to check out the cave to make sure it was safe to enter (and safe to even enter the area). So we ended up eating pizza and wine sitting in the fountain in the plaza of the town!
Other than that small hiccup, our last week has been going decently enough. It’s the hottest consecutive days that we’ve had this entire month (reaching 105 degrees Fahrenheit), with blistering sun, no cloud cover, and the occasional wind gust that blew dirt in every direction and every orifice of our faces. Unfortunately as well, we had another sick day for a third member of our ever-growing group. On the bright side, we have found so many new things that we were not expecting, cle aned massive areas in such a short amount of time, documented everything, and are almost ready to cover up and conserve what we have found.