Ian’s adventure’s on the high seas have also been chance for some sketching…and the results are impressive, even moreso considering the wavy days!
Ian’s adventure’s on the high seas have also been chance for some sketching…and the results are impressive, even moreso considering the wavy days!
As Globe Trekker HQ winds down for the holidays, our production team are busy wrapping up an exciting new documentary coming out in the Spring, Coffee – The Drink that Changed America, produced in collaboration with PBS.
Earlier this year the Globe Trekker team were out and about shooting the final sequences at veteran coffee shop, Caffe Vita at Capitol Hill, Seattle – home of American artisan coffee scene. Caffe Vita has been around for 20 years and now operates nine cafes in the Pacific Northwest, a roasteria cafe in New York City, and a cafe in Los Angeles.
Next documentary director, Ian Sciacaluga met Mark Pendergrast – author of Uncommon Ground – the definitive history of coffee and Dean Cycon from Dean’s Beans. Dean Cyon has a long history as a lawyer and activist in indigenous rights and through activism, ecological responsibility and innovative direct development programs for twenty years has utilised coffee as a vehicle for progressive change throughout the coffee lands of Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Spring is in the air, and while it’s a beautiful season everywhere, mid-March through April marks peak cherry blossom season in Japan.
If you can time your trip during cherry blossom season in Japan, you’re in for a treat courtesy Mother Nature herself. For those interested, there’s more information via See Japan and Japan National Tourism.
This week, The Wall Street Journal published a charming pictorial of Japan’s cherry blossoms in years go by – click on the image to view.
Would you love to visit Japan? Take a two minute wander through extraordinary Tokyo here, or read our destination guide.
Did you know St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America in 1737. The event was initially organised by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston, and included a feast and religious service. This first celebration of the holiday in the colonies was a chance for the many Irish to honour and celebrate the heritage which they had been separated from.
In New York, the first modest celebration took place at the home of an Irish protestant. From little things, big things grow though, and the St. Patrick’s Day parades actually started in New York, developed by a group of Irish soldiers in the British military in 1762 who marched down Broadway. This began the tradition of a military theme in the parade.
The holiday eventually evolved from a small, homely religious dinner into the raucous international celebration we know today.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
There’s a brand new series being released by the BBC early this month, Banished, inspired by events in the eighteenth century when Britain established a penal colony in Australia.
At its heart, Banished is a story of survival.
Though it is set in the stark historical reality of the penal colony of Australia in 1788 after the arrival of the First Fleet, Banished is not the story of Australia and how it came to be. The series depicts tales of love, faith, justice and morality played out on an epic scale in a confined community where the stakes are literally life and death.While no doubt reality held all these elements, there’s so much depth to the history of this time, and what it means to contemporary Australia.
One of our most popular series at Pilot Productions is A Short History of the World: Convict Australia. If Australia is of interest, you too might be fascinated by its evolution; the people, cultures, and when those who were ‘banished’ met with the original keepers of the land.
Watch on demand now.
This week, The Huffington Post announced that Alaska is pretty much the happiest place in America! This beautiful destination offers the highest level of well-being of all the US states. The data measured five categories across all 50 states – purpose, social support, financial status, community and physical health, and Alaska scored tops in all of the above.
Alaska beat out rivals for the top 5 – Hawaii, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. But we already knew this place was special – have you seen the episode when Ian visited?
Feature image by Doug Brown.
On the international radar this week is Pico do Fogo volcano in Cape Verde, off the coast of West Africa. Pico do Fogo is the highest peak of Cape Verde, rising to nearly 3000 metres above sea level.
The main cone of this active volcano on the island of Fogo last erupted in 1675, although an eruption causing several deaths occurred in 1847, and a subsidiary vent last erupted in November 1995 – until this week, early December 2014, nineteen years later.
During the week locals have been fleeing the area, carrying what they can and monitoring the situation closely; the Sentinel-1A satellite has been feeding back images to authorities also.
Feature image by Caroline Granycome, Flickr creative commons.
It’s the second leg of our Tough Trains series – we’ve tackled Bolivia with Zay Harding, travelling from Brazil’s Pantanal to the Pacific coast of Chile bringing you snapshots from some of the most beautiful terrain in South America taking in the local Llamas, the majesty of the Andes and more.
Our next stop is Russia’s Ice Trains!
Russia’s trains travel along 85,500km of track, crossing 11 time zones. In the cold and often brutal Russian winters, these trains persist against the freezing weather, travelling into Siberia and beyond. We travel from the capital city of Moscow and head north to Stalin’s cruellest and most ambitious project – the Rail-Road of Death – before ending on the world’s most northern railway. With average temperatures around -20/-30 degrees and ice at every turn, there’s nothing easy about Russian trains.
Check out Zay’s Globe Trekker photo diary taken on the road while filming Russia’s Ice Trains:
To one side of you stands a cloaked man, cheering jovially, to the other a woman resplendent in sequins and satins and feathers, dancing to the beat of the music; and beyond – thousands of similarly masked revellers. Where are you? Venice, of course, at its most vibrant and theatrical and romantic of world carnivals. Author and seasoned reveller – Hannah Fielding shares her top ten Carnival experiences to add to your ‘must do’ list.
“Globe Trekker,” shown in the U.S. on PBS, is my favourite travel show because it focuses on real travellers experiencing slices of local cultures, not sightseeing. McCormick is my kind of traveller. Her enthusiasm for the places she visits is infectious and you can’t help but conclude that she’d be a fun person to travel with. She got the travel bug in college and has found a way to make a living out of her wanderlust.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Ohio but I was mostly raised in Florida. I first came to New York when I was 12 and I remember feeling this tremendous sigh of relief because I didn’t really fit in in Florida. I was this gawky, ballet-dancing geek who never went in the sun.
I grew up with a giant map of the world and a subscription to National Geographic. That was my mom’s influence. She had this wonderful wanderlust but we didn’t have the resources to travel very much. I studied abroad in France and after I graduated (with a degree from Boston University in philosophy and political science), I taught English in Japan through the JET program. And that was my first foray into traveling independently.
That was in the mid-’90s after I graduated from college. Then I stayed in Asia and backpacked around the region for almost a year and then I moved to New York. I saved a lot of money teaching in Japan and my dad said I should save that money and come home, but I didn’t do that dad, I didn’t! It’s been very hard for me to grow up and settle down.
Do you have a family?
I do. I’m married with kids now so that’s changed a lot. I have an 8-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.
My daughter traveled with me when she was really little and I just kept doing the show. My husband is in television as well, so we would alternate jobs to keep traveling. Then about two years ago, we alighted in Brooklyn and decided to put down roots here for a little while.
What does that mean?
I don’t know. It means we’ve stopped being peripatetic and moving from place to place. When “Globe Trekker” sent me to a location, especially in the early years, I was so excited; I would just stay. The crew would move on after we finished taping but I would stay. I was consistently away. In 2001, I was based in Barcelona and I thought I was missing too many moments in people’s lives, so I moved back to New York. Then I was in Argentina in 2008 for three years.
Wait a minute. I’m lost. Now you’re in Argentina? Your resume might be even more of a mess than mine.
I more or less backpacked most of the year until 2004 when my daughter was born, but I kept traveling for the first few years. In 2008, we went on vacation to Argentina for six weeks, but decided to stay. We ended up staying (in Mendoza) for three years but that wasn’t really the plan. That’s the beauty of working for yourself.
So how did you transition from backpacker to “Globe Trekker” host?
I had just moved back to New York and I was applying to grad schools for East Asian studies. I was a production assistant for “The News with Brian Williams.” I had some high level duties such as photocopying, ordering supplies and sending faxes. The whole time I was scheming to get out of there. I had a friend who was an actor and he saw this ad in an actor’s magazine announcing an audition for someone who loved to travel.
I’d never been on camera and had never been an actress, so instead of sending a headshot, I sent a collage of photos, kind of like an 8th grade book report. And I wrote a poetic, it’s-the-journey-that-matters kind of thing on the back of it. The director said she had never received a collage before and gave me an audition.
The first audition was great, but on the second one everything went wrong. We were wandering around Chinatown. A cat peed on me. I knocked over a fruit bin. I stumbled across a guy who was painting and he shouted at me like a crazy person and said I was stealing his soul.
It was a disaster but they called and said, “If you can leave in ten days, you’ll have one show and it’s in India.” This was in 1997. I think I’ve done 30-35 shows since then.
Do you know how many countries you’ve been to?
I should know that. My husband and I have a competition to see who’s been to more countries.
He’s slightly ahead. He had some hard-to-get-to ones, which was very annoying. He did this great trip from Morocco to Mauritania, down to Nigeria. But I’ve done shows on six continents.
How long do you spend in-country when you’re filming?
We used to shoot for nearly three and a half weeks. But times have changed and budgets have changed. Travel has gotten easier. Now, depending on location, it might be two to three weeks.
And you take your family with you?
My daughter traveled with me until she was older. I’ve only done a few shows since my son was born. My husband would watch the kids while I was working but now he has a grown up job, so the kids stay here. Now that my daughter is in school the nomadic lifestyle is a little more challenging but I still go away every summer. I can’t stay still in the summer.
It depends on the location. Generally we try to find unique places to stay that are affordable for most people. And those are usually the places that have the most character.
Tell me about one of the dodgier places you’ve stayed in?
A bed is a bed as long as there is nothing crawling in the mattress. I travel with a silk sleeping bag liner, just in case. But I did stay in a very strange, concrete hostel in the middle of nowhere in Inner Mongolia. The bathroom was outside and I went to find it in the middle of the night and I had to dodge two sheep and the bathroom was a hole in the ground over some pigs. There were pigs underneath; there were pigs! That was not a pleasant experience at all.
What are the countries you’re most passionate about?
I love Lebanon so much. And I’m also a big fan of Colombia.
What places do you recommend in Colombia?
I love cities, so I would check out Bogota and Cartagena. And from there, I would go to Santa Marta and then inland up into the mountains. If you like hiking, there is a five- or six-day hike into La Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City. You’re into the jungle and there are indigenous people there who are incredible. And then there’s a beautiful island called Providencia, just off the coast with great beaches.
When you get bad weather do you wait it out or keep shooting?
Sometimes we wait 5-6 days for it to stop raining; other times, we work around it. Ian Wright was in Ireland recently and he said it rained 24 hours a day for days, but they just kept going though. I was in Myanmar for the show about three weeks ago. It’s an amazing country that’s in transition. The people are so lovely. We were there for Burmese New Year. They celebrate by shutting down the country for five days. They have a water festival, where they spray people with water or dump buckets of water on people. You have to have rain gear on because you’re going to get wet.
How many hours a day is the camera trained on you when you’re traveling?
It’s not a reality show so the camera isn’t on me all day long. But we film from sun up to sun down.
Have they ever asked you to wear something or do something that was a little too hokey?
Yes! I would say the entire South-eastern United States program. I think I wore more embarrassing outfits there than everywhere else but it was fun. I was decked out in an antebellum gown walking down some stairs, a Civil War dress, and I was in a cotillion dress dancing with a 16-year-old.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m going to Hokkaido in Japan for “Globe Trekker” and I also tried to make my own program, “Sea Nation.” We had a 12-part series where we gave up our normal lives in New York to live on a boat sailing around the Caribbean. It was incredible! We went to 25 different islands and met people from all walks of life. It was 2008, right at the beginning of the economic downturn, and we explored the idea – what can make you happy besides all the things we think will make us happy.
With my daughter, she was 4 at the time. She loved it! My son wasn’t born yet. We were at sea for about four months.
The show was on the Discovery Channel in Asia and a few places in Europe but it never found a home in the U.S. It’s with a sales agent now, so maybe something will happen with it. But there are 11 episodes available online or you can buy the DVD.
Do you consider your job a dream job?
If someone is organizing an opportunity for me to travel and paying me a small amount of money, I will never, ever complain about that. It’s been such a gift. Even the worst days, the day when they made a left instead of a right and we had to stay in the car in a desert for 14 hours, you still get funny stories. I can’t argue with anyone who says it’s a dream job
by Dave Seminara
(Original article appeared in http://www.gadling.com/2013/06/24/travel-dream-jobs-a-conversation-with-globe-trekkers-megan-mcc/)