Inside Thirteen spoke with travel journalist Peter Greenberg, who recently received a personal tour of Mexico by President Felipe Calderón for Mexico: The Royal Tour. From Chihuahua to Cozumel, Greenberg and Calderón cross the country to explore Mexico’s historical treasures, and even venture into Calderón’s hometown.
Here, Greenberg discusses his visit and what he learned from his experience in Mexico.
Mexico: The Royal Tour airs Thursday, September 22 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.
Mr. Greenberg answered our questions via email.
Inside Thirteen: Was there anything you were surprised to learn about Mexico from your visit?
Peter Greenberg: Most people mistakenly think of Mexico as either a dusty border town with people wearing sombreros and drinking tequila, or a high-rise resort destination. I’ve been traveling to Mexico since I was 23 and a correspondent for Newsweek, and thought I’d seen most of the country. Mexico: The Royal Tour certainly showed me how much I didn’t know, and how much I hadn’t yet experienced. It allowed me — and hopefully will allow our viewers — to see a Mexico they didn’t know.
IT: Which location impressed you most on your tour?
PG: That’s a tough one to answer. I was blown away by Palenque, I was seduced by Oaxaca, and then there was the Cave of the Swallows. What impressed me with that experience — where I repelled 110 stories off that cliff and into the cave with the President, was that we both survived!
IT: Were there any places in Mexico that you wanted to visit but were not able to for the show?
PG: None. We were granted an all access pass.
IT: What was it like traveling with President Calderón and visiting his hometown?
PG: I’ve also had the opportunity of traveling with U.S. presidents on Air Force One…there’s no waiting on the runway, and we’re always on time! But on this trip, we traveled with the president by horseback, jeep, train, teleferico (gondola), boat, we ziplined, we dove, and yes, we repelled…the only thing we did on the presidential jet – after shooting 16 to 20 hour days – is sleep on the way back to Mexico City! But visiting his hometown, and especially his family, was very special. I got to meet his brothers and sisters, and also his mother.
IT: After your visit and your time with President Calderón, is there anything you think the U.S. can learn from Mexico?
PG: Mexico, like so many countries, firmly understands the importance of travel and tourism to build bridges of understanding. Also, its strength as a huge economic engine. It is somewhat embarrassing that the U.S. government has never fully understood the economic power and social necessity of travel and tourism.