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Adventure Magazine

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Stephen Alvarez
Life on Assignment
On the Job in the Place of Fright

Human sacrifice, flesh-infesting worms, flooded caverns—photographer Stephen Alvarez reveals the secrets of the nightmare caves of Belize, and of life in the field for Adventure.

Prowling the caves of Guatemala, Borneo, and beyond, American photographer Stephen Alvarez has documented more levels of underworldly intrigue than Dante, but none of them prepared him for the holy caverns of the Maya in Belize. "It was like nothing I've seen anywhere," he says. "So shocking."

For the July/August 2001 issue's "Exploring the Place of Fright" (excerpt), Alvarez joined writer David Roberts and archaeologist Jaime Awe in the caverns of Belize's Roaring Creek Valley. Awe is the closest thing to the underlord of these parts; no one knows more about these archaeologically invaluable, nightmarish nether regions.

Deep below Belize, Alvarez captured evidence of human sacrifice, ancient rituals, and epic, ancient desperation. Here he tells how he did it, what it felt like, and what it's like to be on assignment.

—Ted Chamberlain


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Enter the Gallery
Audio
Working for Adventure vs. National Geographic (1:28)
"If anything, it's less laid-back [with Adventure.]. ..."
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One of the Most Gruesome Things (1:25)
"Alan had this knot on his shin, and. ... a friend of his was poking at it and the worm stuck its head up."
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Skeleton 13 (1:00)
"Here's this girl laid out in a pool, and she has enough rock built back up on her bones that she's almost lifelike again."
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The Seminal Moment in My Life (1:17)
"[It] happened in a gas station in North Carolina. ..."
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Portrait of Stephen Alvarez by April Alvarez; all other photographs by Stephen Alvarez

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