I once worked for a photographer, who now is something of an uncle to me. He taught me how to travel as I do now—in the second week that I worked for him, he flew me to meet him and his crew in the jungles of Belize. I carried with me nothing but a tripod—which, when wrapped, looked like a grenade launcher—a few rolls of film, and his favorite kind of chocolate.
(A picture I took of the Zocalo in Mexico City on the opening night of one of his shows.)
Accustomed mostly to traveling to safe places, I brought with me some pretty dresses, and some cork wedges. I expected to be somewhere warm and tropical, and thus resort-like. When I disembarked from the plane, I was greeted by a man in a pick-up truck, who drove me two hours out into the depths of the jungle. There, I was deposited in a crude camp for a week. During the day, in the heat, I watched the crew film and photograph animals in muddy waters and insect-ridden forests, listless from the humidity, panicked at the emptiness of each hour. At night, I slept in an open air hut, with nothing but a mosquito net to protect me from the wild. If I lay still, the sheets roiled from all of the bugs in the bed. If I turned on the light to try to get rid of them, a jaundiced French camera assistant named Bertrand watched me from his own hut, ten feet away. In the morning, I woke up, and my sheets were speckled from blood from bites, and the bites were not from the Frenchman.