National Geographic : 1987 Mar
On Assignment THEY CALL IT the "Anthill," and free-lance photographer Stephanie Maze learned why on a tour of the Serra Pelada gold mine, carved out of a mountainside in northern Brazil. Since 1980 an army of impoverished Brazilians has swarmed over this vast pit. And at the time of Stephanie's visit for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, the tide of humanity consisted solely of men. "It was the first time I'd ever been alone with 60,000 men," said Stephanie (above). "It was an incredible experience. The longer I stayed in one spot, the more men gathered, and work there came to a standstill." Although the men labored by hand, they feared that mechanization would soon cut back their jobs. "There is a huge need in Brazil for jobs, for land," Stephanie found as she spent seven months traversing the enormous nation for this issue's article. "In the states of Para and Rondonia, the frontier for new settle ment," she says, "it's like the Old West of the ANDRE MORAES BARROS U. S. Many people carry guns and take the law into their own hands." A passion for things Latin has always driven Stephanie. In addition to this, her sixth GEO GRAPHIC assignment, she photographed for us Spain's Catalonia, the Douro River in the Ibe rian Peninsula, Puerto Rico, Mexico City, and Mexican Americans. Raised in Germany, she has lived and worked in San Francisco and Washington, D. C. In 1976, 1980, and 1984 she served as an international pool photogra pher for the Summer Olympics in Montreal, Moscow, and Los Angeles. But Brazil truly changed her life. "In many ways, Brazilians live out their fantasies on a daily basis," she adds. "For the gold miners, it's their dream of El Dorado. For the people in Rio de Janeiro, it's the craziness of Carnival." And for Stephanie herself, it became an apart ment in Rio, where she has moved, giving her a central base from which to cover her favorite subjects in Central and South America.