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Peter Greenberg: Why and How We Made “Mexico: The Royal Tour”

Locations in this article:  Mexico City, Mexico

This week Peter releases the DVD of “Mexico:The Royal Tour” . This two-disc DVD set features the broadcasted version of the show, plus a bonus DVD full of never before seen moments with Calderón. Buy your copy here and read about why Peter chose Mexico for his Royal Tour series and how the latest installment was the most ambitious and rewarding show to date. 

When someone asks me to describe my love affair with Mexico, I try to explain that the country exists at the threshold of history, on the border of a dream still in progress. It has beautiful beaches and thousands of miles of coastline, but there is so much more to it than the resorts that most tourists visit. Mexico begs for deep cultural and physical immersion. I consider myself lucky: I got a head start.

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President Calderon with his family and Peter Greenberg riding horses on Tequila plantation.

I first went to Mexico in early 70s on an assignment from Newsweek when I was the West Coast correspondent. My mission: to drive the new Baja highway, from San Diego all the way past La Paz and into Cabo San Lucas. I was all of twenty-three years old and had never been south of the border. Within just a few miles of crossing into Mexico, all my preconceptions (and misconceptions) changed. I had entered a brave new world of experience, adventure, and hospitality. I stopped in small towns like Loreto and Mulegé. In La Paz, I swore I’d never seen water so clear. One night, I took the ferry across the gulf and into Mazatlán. I was hooked.

Peter Greenberg and President Felipe Calderon in his helicopter over Mexico.

I’ve been traveling to Mexico ever since, from the Yucatán Peninsula to Guadalajara and from Mexico City to Puerto Vallarta. I’ve been to Mérida, Hermosillo, and the small town of Algodones, where 300 dentists treat thousands of Americans who cross the border from Yuma, Arizona, each day.

Over the years, I’ve spent considerable time in places like Manzanillo, Monterrey, Ensenada, Sonora, Veracruz, Tijuana, Oaxaca, and Cozumél. But nothing quite prepared me for the scope and intensity of “Mexico: The Royal Tour.” It was not your average trip, and my travel partner, President Felipe Calderón, was not your average tour guide.

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Presdient Calderon and Peter Greenberg wave goodbye to friends and family before spelunking while filming “Mexico: The Royal Tour.” 

We embarked on a non-stop, high-energy trip that crisscrossed the country. We traveled by plane, horseback, helicopter, and boat. We drove Jeeps, we zip-lined and went hot air ballooning. We made our own tequila and went diving deep into the cenotes. We went even deeper inside the ancient pyramids, stood atop the Copper Canyon, and reached out and touched whales.

It was, to say the least, an ambitious twenty-hour-a-day schedule that covered much of Mexico’s approximately 760,000 square miles and included ten separate Mexican states. From the ruins of Palenque in Chiapasto the Lagoon at Ojo de Libere in Baja; from the Mariposa Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán to the presidential residence at Los Pinos in Mexico City; from the Palancar reefs in Cozumél to the town of Tequila in Jalisco.

To achieve it, we asked for―and received―the unprecedented cooperation of the president, his office, his chief of staff, and his security forces, all of whom worked tirelessly to support an almost unforgiving and ever-changing schedule. I brought with me a crew of more than forty people: underwater and aerial film teams, expert mountain climbing and outdoor camera people, two world-class still photographers—Robert Landau and Mark Wexler—and journalist Arnie Weissmann.

Yet, as special as this trip was, our overriding mandate was that whatever the president and I did or saw must be accessible to anyone who lives in or visits Mexico. The result was this wasn’t just one of the best experiences of my life, but that everything I experienced is open to all of you as well.

A special thanks to President Calderón, his wife Margarita Zavala, and their children for making themselves and their country so open and available to us. I was honored to be their guest, and to be able to share their hospitality with you.

By Peter Greenberg for Peter

Images credit Robert Landau

Related links:

Royal Tour Mexico DVD

This is not your typical tour, and he is not your typical tour guide.

President Felipe Calderón of Mexico takes Travel Guru Peter Greenberg on an unprecedented, history-making journey through his country in Mexico: The Royal Tour.

This two-disc DVD set features the broadcasted version of the show, plus a bonus DVD full of never before seen moments with Calderón.