DARA O BRIAIN If you’re in the city, you’ve got to attend a night at the Mexican wrestling. It’s in this fantastic stadium and you really get into it. It’s like panto, essentially, but an incredibly sporty panto. Your ironic defences are down – I mean, we were wearing wrestling masks – and you’ve got a tray of beer and popcorn in front of you.
ED BYRNE What’s great is the cross section of people. You’ve got older people who used to watch that Big Daddy kind of wrestling, then you’ve got the fans like you’d see at a WWE match, and young hipsters who look at the whole thing in a very ironic way. We had masks on our heads and kids were looking at us, like, what are those two doing? I bought four masks. One for me, one for my wife, and two for my kids. I’ve told my wife that I want to do the photo for our Christmas cards with them on.
OAXACA AND MONTE ALBÁN, MEXICO
DARA Oaxaca is the jewel of the Meso-American cities in Mexico. It’s a spectacularly beautiful, well-preserved city, and a centre of culture. Just outside Oaxaca is Monte Albán, which is an ancient Zapotec city. It’s on a levelled-off mountaintop, and large areas of it are still to be investigated. It was a city of 15,000 people, which at the time would have placed it among the largest cities in Europe, let alone in the Americas.
ED It’s like Macchu Picchu, but you can get there easily from the city. It’s incredible to look at. It’s pretty touristy, but it doesn’t feel too busy. It’s not like there are people all over it like ants; you can still imagine what it was like.
FINCA HAMBURGO, MEXICO
DARA This German-owned coffee plantation is at the top of a mountain, on the border with Guatemala. It’s a long and treacherous drive up. Coffee grows better than anything else does at those altitudes, so they stick it on the side of mountains.
ED They have a hotel there, built so that the families of the workers could find work in the hotel. It’s been run by five generations of the same German family. They were asked by the Mexican government to build it, to give people jobs. Then in World War Two the Germans were interned, and the family’s farm was taken from them. After the war they had to buy it back, but just as they made the last mortgage payment, in 1957, a storm destroyed it and they had to start again.
ANTIGUA GUATEMALA, GUATEMALA
DARA Antigua is a beautiful colonial town that was built in an age of beautiful cities, like Venice, that hit their economic peak 400 years ago and remain dipped in aspic. The landscape is lush beyond belief, because the soil is peppered with the sulphurous exhalations of many volcanos, which means it has very rich soil. There are live volcanos you can walk up and visit.
ED It’s like an open-air museum. It’s also a bit like Amsterdam in that people go there with the intention of travelling all around the country, but they love it so much they stay.
CENTRO DE RESCATE LAS PUMAS, CAÑAS, COSTA RICA
DARA Some 25 per cent of Costa Rica is national park, and while tourism from nature is a massive part of the economy, they’re still building a six-lane highway through northern Costa Rica that carves through the habitats of all the animals.
ED This wildlife sanctuary is for animals that have been discombobulated by the building of the new highway. For people who have an issue with zoos, this is a place where the animals are not in cages for us to gawk at them, but they’re there because they’re being rehabilitated. I got to feed a baby anteater, which was awesome.
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
DARA Arriving at Panama City is like arriving at Dubai. Dubai appears out of the desert, but with Panama City it’s the jungle. When you travel through the rest of this landmass, it’s all Spanish old colonial cities, and then you get to the economic powerhouse that is Panama City. There are not just skyscrapers, but two or three separate areas of skyscrapers. It’s a tall, shiny, glassy city.
ED The canal has a visitor centre and it’s fascinating. You just don’t even consider the fact that ships are built to fit the canal. Cruise ships are Panama Canal-sized.
DARA Panamax is the boat-building measurement. If you build your boat to that specification, it can pass through the canal with about a six-inch gap on each side.
Dara and Ed’s Great Big Adventure is repeated on BBC2 on Sundays from 5th June
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