The Tropic Of Cancer

Three years ago I stumbled across a BBC series by Simon Reeve, whilst browsing through torrents on a site dedicated to illicitly uploaded UK television shows. Called Equator, it was absolutely brilliant. I watched all three episodes about five times each (I used them during English classes…) as Señor Reeve travelled along the centre line of the planet. I hoped that 2008 would bring a sequel, Tropic of Cancer. Seeing as Cancer goes through Mexico. I was disappointed. Sort of. He did Capricorn instead. It was still a very good show, done in four parts.

I’d have to wait till 2009, I thought. Surely then he’ll do Cancer. Nope.  He did something a little different called Explore, which wasn’t quite so brilliant. But finally, my three year wait is over and on Sunday BBC2 broadcasts the first of six episodes as Simon Reeve travels the full length of the Tropic of Cancer. And the first episode is Mexico. If you live in the UK, be tuned at 8pm. If you don’t live in the UK, you’ll have to look it up on a torrent site a few hours later. What is a shame is that the BBC haven’t yet produced an iPlayer channel for international users, so that we can see some of their shows…..cough, cough….legally. I’d happily pay a few pesos for the privilege.

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  • Oman , where Simon went, is a stunning county. He took a less exact route from the one I took in Oman last year.

  • As the Tropic of Cancer passes through Oman have a look at the sections in the stunning Omani desert and mountains on my search for its route

  • Michael Palin did a fantastic series of travel documentaries through the BBC. I do not know if they are available anywhere; we have watched them on DVD. He traveled around the Pacific Rim and so spent some time in South America and Mexico. He traveled from Pole to Pole and much of that trip went through Africa. Anyway, I highly recommend the programs. He is a good traveler and engages all the people he meets.

    • I did watch all Palins shows, my favourite being Sahara. I was a bit disappointed by the one where he did the Pacific Rim (ironically named Full Circle – he never did actually manage to finish where he started from IIRC!) because despite having 10 episodes, we got just a few measly minutes of footage from Mexico!

  • Thanks for the info on the program. I’ll try and see if I can find it…erm…through other avenues. There are a few Brit programs I enjoy and its really tiring having to scour the internet for a place to watch them/locate them. Don’t get me started on iplayer “Sorry……not available in your country” or “Only available for residents of the UK”. I’ve tried twitching with my ip address, but no luck. There are some available options I believe, but they come in a nice monthly price….and I don’t like spending the $$$$ on my pitiful budget. Alas, I may just have to fork it out and save myself the time and energy.

  • Slightly off topic but BBC2 had a documentary a few weeks ago called Mexico’s Drug War. It was as you would expect – it covered the recent bloodshed in Cd. Juarez, explored the vast, verdant marijuana fields of Sinaloa, and generally suggested that Mexico is going to hell. It also seemed to suggest that any low-income Mexican family would happily take up drug-running in order to put food on the table. Fine, there is a big problem with the cartels, but I wish U.S/British/non-Latino media would find a different take on the subject. How about addressing the huge market in the U.S which funds the trafficking, or the drug legalisation issue. It seems like when the BBC reports on Mexico, it just takes its lead from U.S media.

    • Actually I not only caught the documentary, but used it in several English classes. I’m going to take a slightly different view on it from you though. The main problem I have with much of the news coverage, particularly in the US, and even more particularly with Fox, is the commentary and opinion that comes with it. The reality is, of course, that a drug war is raging in Mexico. But that is not to say that the entire country is being ravaged with drive by shootings. Fox would have you believe it is, and fools like O’Reilly will follow it up with comments such as ‘I wouldn’t let my kids Spring Break in Mexico’. It was pointed out that Cancun and many other cities are actually far safer than many cities in the US, but rather than substantiate his comments, or think more carefully about them, or otherwise offer an intelligent repost, he just repeated himself like the moron he is.

      And you’re right, the issue doesn’t revolve purely around Mexico – without the US market, there is no drug trade. But the reporter concerned came to Mexico to examine the Mexican side of the story, and I thought they portrayed two important aspects rather well. Firstly, in showing the destruction of the lives of ordinary and good people. It should never be forgotten that although most of the victims are involved in the drug trade themselves, there’s still a good many innocent people being caught up in it.

      Also, the fact that so many Mexicans in cartel heartlands are involved in the trade in one way or another, some more directly than others, is very relevant. This matters because this is one of the key battles the government faces in its efforts to stop the cartels. They haven’t fallen into the trade through coincidence…it’s a matter of cartel policy, and it is here that the parallels with the Colombian drug wars of the 80’s and 90’s are clearest.

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