Published: August 2005
Joel Sartore

What was your best experience in the field covering this story?

Daniel De Granville, who was my assistant and translator on this assignment, was fantastic. He was so cheerful, that I actually started calling him Pollyanna. I couldn't have made my photographs without him. We traveled to places where photos had rarely, if ever, been taken. But Daniel knew his way around. He always made sure to leave a situation better than we found it, so people were glad to help us out.

What was your worst experience in the field covering this story?

After getting stuck on a swampy road late one night, we thought about sleeping in our truck. But it got too hot because we had the windows rolled up to keep the bugs out. So we started hiking until we saw a little ranch house with its light still on. The owners told us we could stay in their horse barn. They had ridden their horses hard all day, so all the horse blankets were sweaty. But we ended up sleeping—and sweating—under these things to keep the mosquitoes off. I even remember seeing mosquitoes all over a picture of a naked lady hanging on the wall and just thinking, Holy cow! These things are ruthless.

What was your quirkiest experience in the field covering this story?

During the wet season, I actually went snorkeling in a cattle pasture and photographed stingrays. But when I returned to the same place a few months later, it was completely dried up. You never would have guessed aquatic life had once been there.