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Saturday, November 21, 2015

'Gringo Trails' DVD: The Eco Impact of Ugly Americans

Product Details
The November 17, 2015 Icarus Films DVD release of the 2013 documentary "Gringo Trails" nicely comes as millions of Americans plan their annual "thaw out" trips. This entertaining comprehensive analysis of the ironic result of visits to special and unspoiled parts of the world both spoiling them and making them less special nicely makes the case for showing proper respect and regard when traveling there.

The following YouTube clip of the "Trails" trailer discusses most of the topics that make up the body of this review. The images of the impact of people visiting places that nature arguably does not intend their presence contributes a great deal to the power of the film.


A fictional and delightfully non-cerebral way of thinking of the themes of "Trails" is the lore of the classic '60s sitcom "Gilligan's Island." Children of the '70s and hardcore sofa spuds know that a series of wacky events result in that the once "uncharted desert isle" becoming a resort for guests whom B-List celebrities portray in late '70s made-for-TV-movies. In other words, Mr. Howell effectively paves paradise and puts up a parking lot.

"Trails" traces much of the trend of destructive eco-tourism to two events. The first one relates to the rescue of 20-something hiker Yossi Ghinsberg, who contributes hilarious stories to "Trails" and is the author of a book about that ordeal, after he spends several weeks stranded in the Amazon jungle. The publicity surrounding the story of Yossi results in more tourists visiting the area. This leads to forming the titular path, which refers to the route that many of these visitors travel.

The second story from the '80s relates to a similar adventure by 20-something traveler (and current National Geographic Traveler editor) Costas Christ. A very engaging Christ tells the "Trails" camera of discovering an almost Eden-like Thai beach and staying there for several weeks. He goes on to talk about sharing knowledge of that beach on reconnecting with fellow travelers on his return to civilization. Despite Christ asking said tourists to not divulge the location of the island, they apparently do so.

We next see footage of the island being relatively densely developed, an enormous crowd of men (and women) behaving badly, and the resulting trash and other refuse that pollutes the sand and the water.

Another travel writer sums up the dilemma of eco-tourism well in discussing her conflicting emotions between wanting to write about beautiful places that she finds and not wanting that writing to result in the devastation that almost inevitably results from crowds traveling to a place.

Less dramatic stories of travel to exotic locations include an American travel writer discussing taking advantage of being able to pass as a non-American and another adventurer discussing both having small children mug him and his horniness prompting him to pursue a potentially dangerous liaison. The person with whom he ends up in bed that evening provides an amusing end to the story.

The awesomeness of  "Trails" extends to advocating a simple and reasonable solution that allows people to see the natural wonders of the world without stressing, destroying, or otherwise harming said wonders.

The especially entertaining and helpful DVD special features include tourism advice and additional travel stories.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Trails" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.