Forget the passports. Forget the plane tickets. Forget the packing and currency exchange rates. Thanks to PBS, now viewers can take a trip to Mexico from the comfort and safety of their own home. And this tour of our neighbors to the south isn’t one of those standard guided history tours that viewers might expect. Rather it’s a special tour through some of the most amazing and beautiful points across Mexico guided by CBS’ Peter Greenberg and now former Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
The tour doesn’t begin right away. Greenberg first sits down with Calderon and discusses Mexico’s image thanks to the ongoing drug war between the cartels in Mexico. Thos interested in politics will find this discussion interesting. The pair’s interview consisted of more than politics, though. The disc’s bonus features include Greenberg’s full interview with Calderon in which he describes his upbringing and influence in getting involved in politics. Because the full interview is saved for the bonus features, viewers are given more time to tour the country with the pair.
After the initial interview is completed, Greenberg and Calderon head out on the tour of the country. First Calderon takes Chiapas, where the men tour the Temple of the Inscriptions. Calderon shows Peter the tomb of an ancient Mayan ruler inside the temple. It’s interesting in seeing this, to note how similar this burial method was tot that of the ancient Egyptians. From the temple in Chiapas, viewers follow the pair to Chichen Itza, where they climb the famed El Castillo pyramid. The duo has to climb it in a serpent like style. Viewers will find it just as funny as they did. After reaching the top, Greenberg is shown the “Jaguar Throne” at the top of the pyramid on which it is believed that a ruler would sit. The columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors are absolutely amazing. They’re proof that not only were the Mayans expert architects, but apparently just as proficient in ornithology and audiology.
The tour has barely begun after the pair visit Chichen Itza. From Chicen Itza, viewers are whisked away to Michoacan, where the men encounter the annual migration of the Monarch butterflies. To say that seeing this is stunning would be an understatement. Audiences are then taken to Calderon’s home town of Morelia, where he introduces Peter to his family, including his mother. He explains that Morelia was originally established as a colony in 1541.
The stay in Morelia is short, as the next day, the pair makes their way to the Baja Peninsula and the Laguna Ojo de Liebra. Calderon is joined by his wife and children here. This is perhaps the most intriguing stop on the entire tour of Mexico. That is because as they are whale watching, Calderon explains that the grey whales that migrate there each year are drawn by the sound of children singing. And sure enough, as soon as Calderon’s children begin to sing, the whales come over as if on command. They are so docile, letting everybody touch them. It’s absolutely amazing to behold.
The whale watching at Laguna Ojo de Liebra is an amazing moment in the tour across Mexico. But there is so much more for viewers to see in the roughly hour long presentation, thanks to Calderon and PBS. Viewers get to see what’s it’s like to go cave diving, and even scale the wall of one of the world’s deepest spots, along with even seeing the famed Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan by hot air balloon. Add in the equally enjoyable bonus features, and viewers have what is one of the best guided tours of the world to be released in a very long time. Rather than simply being a tour guided by a faceless narrator, audiences go right along with Greenberg and Calderon on the journey across the country. It all has such a different feeling from other presentations out there. It’s more adventure and less documentary. That makes it perfect for the classroom and the home viewer. The DVD is available in stores now and online at http://www.shoppbs.org.
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