Last night, my husband and I attended the Los Angeles screening of “Mexico: The Royal Tour” at Regal Cinemas in downtown at LA Live, on behalf of Mexico Today and The MEXICO Report. A special thanks to Mexico Today and to the Mexico Tourism Board Los Angeles for their warm hospitality, in particular Jorge Gamboa. It was great to see many familiar faces in addition to my Mexico Today colleagues, Silvia Martinez and Ana Flores.
Invited guests mingled in the lobby with other Mexico-enthusiasts and tourism professionals before taking their seats. The audience stood for the arrival of President Calderon and his wife, First Lady Margarita Zavala. In attendance and sitting with the President was Peter Greenberg, Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism Gloria Guevara Manzo, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, KOCE President and CEO Mel Rogers (PBS), President of AARP W. Lee Hammond among many other distinguished guests.
Emmy Award-winning travel journalist Peter Greenberg addressed the audience. “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 first visited California (I’m not going to tell you when, but it was a long time ago), and thought I’d seen most of the country. This tour showed me how much I didn’t know, and how much I hadn’t yet experienced and allowed me, and hopefully will allow our viewers, to see a Mexico they didn’t know.”
Enthusiastic and gracious, President Calderon took to the podium and began, “We are very proud of all that Mexico has to offer – from biodiversity, to rainforests, thousands of small towns, the most ancient culture in the Americas, original cultures, the flavor of our cuisine, the music and the happiness of our people.”
He delivered an emotional presentation of describing Mexican hospitality, the soul of Mexico, the tremendous potential to increase tourism, new advances Mexico is making such as building new hospitals and advanced medical care for tourism, a clean and friendly Mexico and much more.
“Mexico and the Mexican people welcome you with open arms, with their soul in their hand,” he expressed.
Since I had never seen President Calderon in person (up close and personal) or make such a speech, I was moved in a way that renewed my love and energy for the unique and diverse country of Mexico. Perhaps even better, it gave me hope for the world to see Mexico through different eyes.
During the one-hour program, which premieres tonight, Sept. 22 in the U.S. and soon in Mexico (Check your local PBS listings – for Southern Cal here), renowned travel journalist Peter Greenberg first travels to Los Pinos in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park, to meet with the President and begin their journey through Mexico. When he arrived, Greenberg was escorted to the library to discuss some pressing issues with Calderon, which you will see.
Then they were off to Chiapas where the real journey began. The rest… you’ll just have to watch. For a full description of the show and location list, click here.
However, I will tell you my favorite parts and you will see why, if you watch. In the documentary, you not only see Calderon experiencing and presenting his beloved Mexico, but you also see his wife and three children with him. He is a family man, a humanitarian. You meet his mother and his family from Morelia, see the house where he was raised and even the school he attended.
Favorite part 1: Calderon stopped by the school he attended in Morelia. The children were extremely surprised and the excitement and smiles on their faces brought me to tears! They were so proud of their president.
Favorite part 2: Greenberg along with Calderon, his wife and children visit the Baja lagoons via boat. They were all looking at the nearby whales and discussing the migration patterns. The President said, “It’s been said that whales will come close to the boat if they hear the voice of a child singing.” So his three children started singing the whale song, and sure enough, the whales quickly approached, so close that so everyone could touch them and experience the magic.
What I witnessed was a President who cares deeply for his country, a smart, savvy, strategic man who is truly an ambassador of his county, a country he is proud to represent. His deep love for the land and people shines through, as does his dry wit and sense of humor. It gave me a refreshed energy for Mexico, for a country that I have seen and one I have not.
On presenting a different side of Mexico, President Calderon stated, “Mexico is magical and it will be the country we dream it to be.”
“Mexico: The Royal Tour” premieres tonight, Sept. 22 in the U.S. and Sept 23 in Mexico with English narration and Spanish subtitles. (Check your local PBS listings – for Southern Cal here)
Disclosure: This article is presented on behalf of my work for Mexico Today, an initiative of Marca País – Imagen de México. This program is designed to shine a light on the Mexico that its people experience every day. Although I’m being compensated for my work, all stories, opinions and passion for all things México expressed here are completely my own. Visit Mexico Today on Facebook or Twitter.