Long before Columbus arrived in the New World the Mayan civilization flourished across Central America. They had a form of writing, an appreciation of art, an advanced understanding of astronomy, and of course that famous Mayan calendar. They also left behind some impressive stone temples & pyramids. One of their most famous cities is Tikal in Guatemala. I took a tour of the site with Mariela Mayen, the only woman working as a full time guide at Tikal. Here’s at look at some of the stone structures and the interview I did with Mariela for National Geographic Weekend.
To paraphrase the Beatles, It was 20 yrs. ago today that the Jourberts taught me to play…. in Botswana. It was my 1st trip for National Geographic and the film camp for Dereck & Beverly Joubert in Botswana was my first stop. They introduced me to their neighbors, some of Africa’s most famous wildlife, lions, hippos, and elephants by taking me right up the neighbors front door, close enough to almost shake hands with them.
It was an experience that hooked me on Africa & has lured me back to the continent almost every year since. This past year I returned for a 20th anniversary reunion with the Jouberts at the site where we first met. This is an interview we did reflecting on those 20 year old experiences and looking at the changes their films have helped bring to conservation in Africa. There are some scenes from that 1994 trip here, but also some new images showing how the Jouberts are still getting closer to the animals than you could imagine possible to bring you intimate portraits of Africa’s wildlife. The full interview is on my radio show National Geographic Weekend this week.
Ethan Johns stopped by National Geographic to talk about his new album and sing a couple of the songs. This is one of the tunes, “Among the Sugar Pines”. The interview runs this weekend on my radio show National Geographic Weekend. Johns is also a recording engineer and music producer like his father Glyn Johns who working with many of the big acts of the 60’s & 70’s, artists like the Stones, the Beatles, Clapton, Zeppelin, The Who, The Eagles, Dylan, The Band and scores of others.
Oklahoma musician John Fullbright’s first album obviously spoke to people when it was nominated for a Grammy, and his catchy melodies and relatable lyrics continue to impress on his just released second album called, “Songs.” John stopped by my radio show, National Geographic Weekend, this week to talk music, & story telling, and to play a couple of his new songs.
This one’s called, “Going Home” and it invokes all the good feelings about home that come to mind whenever you’ve been traveling for a while.
Have you ever wanted to ride along with a NASCAR driver? Well Jeff Gordon gives 2 different people the opportunity, but on the streets, not a track, & he doesn’t tell them who he is or what’s about to happen. For one ride he pretends to be an ex-con taxi driver running from the cops and that prank has his unsuspecting fare kicking & screaming in the backseat.
In the other setup Gordon visits a car dealership and takes the car salesman on a test drive like he’s never before experienced. Both events were filmed for Pepsi commercials with hidden cameras, but the victims had no idea they were part of an elaborate setup.
I interview Gordon this week on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend, and he describes how he got a little nervous when the guys started freaking out. This video shows some of his stunt driving and part of the interview. Gordon also talks about NASCAR racing and some of the shared characteristics between race drivers and explorers and adventurers which can be heard in the full interview on National Geographic Weekend.
I once wrote an article called “Blame It On the Boy Scouts” to explain why I do some of the things I do at National Geographic. When the BSA surprised me last week with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award I told them how the Scouts introduced me to my first mountain, or what passes for a mountain in West Texas. A couple of years ago a trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro inspired me to revisit my Texas scouting roots. Here’s a video of that trip which I describe this week on my radio show National Geographic Weekend.
The Dance of the Inle Lake Fishermen. When I shot this recently in Myanmar I thought if they were doing this kind of fishing on a lake in the States, people would buy a ticket to watch the performance. Then when my friend Bill Maxwell sent me a piece of music he produced with Michiko Hill that was doomed to never be heard, I thought these 2 artistic performances of dancing fishermen & piano belong together, & deserve to be seen & heard. So enjoy & you don’t have to buy a ticket. The experience is free.
Moon bears are being killed in Laos for use in Chinese & Vietnamese medicinal tonics & may soon be wiped out. I visited a Free the Bears rescue center in Laos that’s trying to stop the poaching. Betty & I helped feed the bears & watched them get excited about being spritzed with bear perfume. We also met Champa, a bear who is the 1st ever recipient of a brain surgery in Laos.
El Sol, not satisfied with just doing his day job of bringing sunshine into our lives also adds light to our nights with colorful auroras over the northern and southern latitudes. This year the solar charged show is especially dramatic. Here are some picturess I took of the aurora borealis over Norway on New Year’s Day.