Its always a thrill to be on a dig at the moment of discovery. The scientist had been working at the site for years, and I was there when he opened the mud-brick chamber on the corner of the pyramid, brushed the dust away, and exposed all of the ceramic and gold and copper artifacts. Each day afterwards I stood there in anticipation of what was going to be revealed as they excavated the burial chamber.
I was in Kotzebue, Alaska, on the 3rd of July when John Echave, the illustrations editor, asked me to be in Peru on the 7th. After I considered how close I would be to the Equator, I concluded that it would be pretty hot there. So I went home from Alaska, got rid of all my cold-weather clothes, and packed for warm weather. But when I got to Peru, I almost froze. I didnt realize that a cold Antarctic wind blows constantlyand in a straight shottoward this part of the Peruvian coast. So every morning I went out into cold fog and harsh wind. I toughed it out by keeping my hat on, wearing all the clothes I could, and ducking away from the wind.
The pyramid is related to an ancient city that ran along the beach. As youre walking over the ruins you can find little pieces of ceramic and the occasional fragment of gold, all evidence of the Moche civilization that flourished there about 1,600 years ago. We were out one day when we met an old man with a handmade reed boat. He takes it out through the breakers daily to fish for a couple of hours.
Along with my work on the early Moche, I was covering the Hunt for the First Americans article. One of the predominant theories discussed in the story is that people may have migrated along the coast in reed boats. It was a stroke of luck to photograph this 70-year-old man for that story while working on this one.