The Oracle and the Monkey

For nearly five decades, a scientific loner guarded a great labyrinth of lines on the desert floor near the small Peruvian town of Nazca. Day after day, until she was too elderly and too ill for such solitary work, Maria Reiche set out into the barren vastness with camera, compass, and papers, mapping thousands of […]

Portrait of the Archaeologist as Young Artist

On the taxi ride there, I felt a little ill. The long, sleepless flight to Lima, a dodgy lunch that was coming back to haunt me, and the abrupt swerving and lurching of the taxi through the congested streets of the Peruvian capital—all seemed to be taking their toll.  By the time I and my […]

The Lost Story of Madre de Dios

One of the hardest things about being a freelance writer is seeing a great story— the kind of story you’ve always dreamed about writing—slip through your fingers. Your editors fail to see the beauty or the tragedy. No one shares your obsession; no one wants to put you on a plane to Miami or Lima […]

Black Friday and Dirty Gold

Seventeen years ago, Canadian biologist Adrian Forsyth slipped into lyricism as he described the great wilderness known as Tambopata-Candamo in Peru. The cloud forests there, he wrote in an official report, “are dense with every limb matted with fern, orchid and moss and the only trails are those of the secretive spectacled bear and elusive […]