Backstory - On the Maya Trail

More than anywhere I have travelled it was the guards at Mexico’s archaeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula who were the toughest (and meanest) of security personnel that I had come across anywhere in the world, from Angkor to Luxor to Machu Picchu. It made me wonder what the Mexican police must be like.

I was brusquely turned away at the sites of Chichen Itza and Uxmal. At Chichen Itza I stayed at a hotel bordering the grounds and managed to enter the site before opening hours. It was completed deserted -- of tourists, as well as guards. But my efforts were scuppered. The high humidity had steamed up my camera lens and it finally cleared at about the same time the gates opened and the guards arrived. Ah me. At Uxmal, I did not even make it through the gates.

It took great discretion to secure any footage at all -- at Mayapan, Tulum and Coba. I left my conspicuous camera bag back in the hotel and instead carried my camera/microphones etc inside a basket (piled up with scarves, bottles of water, etc). I certainly did not have many opportunities to open up a tripod so was forced to film with the camera resting on the ground or upon stonework or upon tree stumps.

Consequently I left Mexico with far less video than I had hoped. But the story would still be complete. I had some interviews, rather modest in scope, but good enough. I had several pieces to camera and walk-throughs. It would be sufficient for a 4-minute package -- exploring the Yucatan beyond the congested star attraction of Chichen Itza.

This is my last BBC feature filmed on my beloved Canon XH-A1. The network has since gone HD and tapeless, and my camera is obsolete. I’m considering the Canon XF105 or XF305, or alternatively the Canon C100. If anyone has any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear from you!