Tropic of Cancer with Simon Reeve episode 1

Tropic of Cancer with Simon Reeve episode 1

Tropic of Cancer with Simon Reeve episode 1 – Simon Reeve embarks on an awe-inspiring journey around the world, meticulously tracing the path of the Tropic of Cancer, which serves as the northern boundary of the intriguing tropics region. This imaginary line offers a tapestry of diverse cultures and breathtaking landscapes, all of which Simon is eager to explore. In the captivating first episode of this series, Simon begins his travel adventure on the stunning Pacific coast of Mexico.



Here, he tours the luxurious holiday resorts of Baja California, where the azure waters and golden beaches offer an enticing escape for travelers. But this is just the beginning, as he must cross Mexico’s rugged and contrasting interior, a region that reveals both the country’s natural beauty and the underlying challenges faced by its inhabitants. Along this thrilling journey, Simon’s experiences range from the extraordinary to the dangerous.



In Culiacan, the headquarters of the dreaded Sinaloa drug cartel, he goes on patrol with a heavily armed police unit. The tension in the city is palpable, and his excursion with law enforcement provides a unique window into the struggles against criminal elements. A surprising encounter with a female Lucha Libre wrestler adds an unexpected twist, giving Simon more than he initially bargained for.

Further along the Tropic of Cancer, the line skirts the vibrant and historic city of Havana. Here, Simon immerses himself in Cuban culture and investigates how the local population is creatively using allotments to counter the detrimental effects of the US trade embargo. His in-depth exploration reveals resilience and innovation in the face of political adversity.

The journey then takes him to the idyllic Bahamas, where he explores the picturesque coral reefs that have made these islands a famous destination. However, beneath the surface beauty, he discovers a hidden menace threatening the ecological balance of the region.

This expedition, filled with discovery, intrigue, and adventure, allows viewers to follow Simon Reeve as he uncovers the lesser-known stories and the astounding beauty of the regions along the Tropic of Cancer. From sun-soaked beaches to perilous encounters, the series offers an insightful and thrilling perspective of the world, bringing the audience closer to the complexity and wonder of our planet.


Tropic of Cancer with Simon Reeve episode 1 –  Following the Tropic of Cancer: A Journey Across the World

Simon Reeve embarks on an epic adventure following the Tropic of Cancer, the invisible line that marks the northern border of Earth’s tropical zone. His 23,000 mile journey takes him across deserts, rivers and mountains to explore some of the world’s most beautiful yet troubled regions.


A Tropical Paradise Under Threat

Simon begins his voyage on Mexico’s gorgeous Baja California peninsula. This sparsely populated wilderness of dry deserts and empty beaches initially seems an undiscovered paradise. However, luxury resorts and marinas catering to American tourists are rapidly eating up the once pristine coastline. Simon visits Cabo San Lucas, a tourist playground on the edge of the desert that draws tens of thousands seeking tropical sun each year. More developments are planned, making the region entirely dependent on US dollars.

At the lavish One and Only Palmilla resort, where the “starting price” for a villa is $8,000 a night, Simon discovers the staff are still adding finishing touches like gold taps. Just minutes away in a dried-up riverbed, Mexican migrants live in flooded shacks made of plywood. The glittering tourist industry provides thousands of jobs, but workers mostly live in slums while vacationers enjoy opulent comfort. With the US recession, locals feel increasingly dependent on American fortunes. As one man tells Simon, “When they sink, we sink even further.”


The World’s Most Dangerous Road

Leaving the beautiful Baja coast behind, Simon crosses to mainland Mexico, aware he’s entering a country gripped by violent conflict over drugs. His destination is Culiacán, capital of the Sinaloa drug cartel and one of earth’s most dangerous cities. With locals living in constant fear, Simon sees a society where trafficking is deeply ingrained. At a shrine honoring the patron saint of drug dealers, prayers are offered for safe passage of shipments.

On a cemetery tour, Simon learns 90% of graves belong to those who died in the drug trade. Young men pose with assault rifles, grenade launchers and armored vehicles on their tombs, proudly displaying the trappings of gangster life even in death.

Simon joins an elite police patrol through Culiacán’s eerie streets to visit checkpoints and raid a cartel safe house. However, the immense scale of the drug war leaves an overwhelming sense that the cops face an impossible task. Endless US demand, immensely rich traffickers and a culture that reveres narcos present challenges no mere police action can solve.


Rural Exodus and Toxic Mines

Heading east into rural Mexico, Simon finds villages emptied as residents seek work abroad. In one school, almost every child has family in the US and dreams of going too. Critics believe NAFTA, enabling US firms to operate freely in Mexico, became another way for the developed world to exploit the tropics.

In the historic mining town of Cerro San Pedro, Simon sees tensions between locals and a Canadian mining company blamed for environmental harm. With the open pit mine blasting the mountainside mere steps from homes, some residents feel under attack. But with many depending on the mine for jobs, the dispute has turned violent. One activist, his house vandalized for opposing the project, is now too scared to visit parts of his own village.


Lucha Libre and Sustainable Farms

Reaching Mexico City, Simon seeks something uniquely Mexican before departing. At a raucous 15,000-seat arena just for Lucha Libre wrestling, he meets a female fighter for a very hands-on training session. Though assured the flying kicks and body slams are staged, Simon ends up battered and bruised for the price of authentic Mexican experience.

A brief stop in Havana reveals a surprising consequence of Cuba’s US embargo – organic urban farms. With the Soviet collapse leaving Cuba starved for food, people began planting fruits and vegetables anywhere they could. Simon visits an allotment grown without pesticides on reclaimed industrial land, now supplying 90% of Havana’s produce. These eco-friendly gardens offer ideas for sustainably feeding growing populations everywhere.


Trouble in Paradise

In his first leg’s final stop, the Bahamas, Simon finds even paradise has a dark side. He tours a detention center for Haitian migrants, some held in limbo without rights. In Nassau’s slums, Haitians describe harrowing journeys to escape extreme poverty and violence at home. With tourism the top industry, migrants provide cheap labor – easily discarded when no longer useful.

On Long Island, locals battle an invasion of ravenous lionfish devastating native reefs and fish stocks. Just one of many threats to the delicate ecology of the tropics traced back to human activity. For Simon, joining fishermen hunting this alien menace offers perspective before he flies across the Atlantic to continue tracing the Tropic of Cancer through Africa and the Middle East.


An Adventure Just Begun

Simon Reeve’s journey along the Tropic of Cancer vividly captures the daunting scale of challenges across our rapidly urbanizing tropics. As idyllic landscapes succumb to encroaching development and communities face wrenching change, understanding these interconnected struggles has never been more crucial. Yet Simon also finds much that gives hope – people striving to make a difference, find opportunity, or preserve the beauty of their home. His voyage around the planet has only just begun, but already he renders the tropics’ brilliance, wonder and uncertainty unforgettable.


Key Takeaways

  • Luxury tourism economies in places like Mexico’s coasts are drastically changing local landscapes and livelihoods
  • Drug violence in cities like Culiacán presents extremely complex challenges beyond police action
  • Migrant exploitation is an underlying issue across the tropics, driven by poverty and lack of opportunity
  • Creative sustainability ideas are emerging, from Cuban urban farms to Mexican fishing cooperatives
  • Even paradise has a dark side; the tropics’ stunning yet delicate ecology is under threat from many fronts


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Tropic of Cancer?

The Tropic of Cancer is an imaginary latitude line located at approximately 23.5° north of the equator. It marks the northernmost point where the sun can appear directly overhead at noon. The line runs through Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

Where does Simon Reeve visit on his journey?

In this first episode, Simon travels along the Tropic of Cancer through Mexico, making stops in Baja California, Culiacán, rural Mexican villages, Mexico City, Havana, Cuba, and the Bahamas.

What dangers does Simon encounter?

Simon witnesses firsthand the violence and fear generated by drug cartels in cities like Culiacán. He also sees environmental destruction in places like Cerro San Pedro and meets migrants fleeing violence or exploitation.

What positive sustainability ideas does Simon discover?

In Cuba, Simon learns how urban organic farming cooperatives transformed food production without pesticides or artificial fertilizers. He also sees Mexican fishermen innovating to combat invasive lionfish damaging native reef ecosystems.

How does the journey showcase challenges facing the tropics?

Simon finds beautiful landscapes under threat as unsustainable development expands, communities disrupted by inequality, migrant exploitation, drug violence, and fragile tropical environments facing pollution and climate change.

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