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April 6, 2014: Riding Horses Across Continents, Swimming in the Arctic Ocean and More

Filip Masetti remains focused on riding to Brazil with his horses Frenchie, Bruiser and Dude, despite border troubles. (Photo Courtesy Filipe Masetti)
Filip Masetti remains focused on riding to Brazil with his horses Frenchie, Bruiser and Dude, despite border troubles. (Photo Courtesy Filipe Masetti)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1

Filipe Masetti left Calgary, Alberta on horseback nearly two years ago, with his sights set on riding into São Paulo, Brazil. The end-date seemed distant then, but when he entered Bolivia this week he only had one more border to cross, which is music to Masetti’s ears. After weeks navigating Panamanian border bureaucracy, he bypassed the country, flying his horses from Costa Rica to Peru. And once again, at the Bolivian border, Masetti had trouble. “It’s almost like they want you to cross the border illegally.” Masetti also shares the story of his passage through Honduras, which involved asking a local drug dealer for protection.

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- Many travelers see languages as a barrier from entering a country and interacting earnestly with locals. But National Geographic Traveler of the Year Benny Lewis sees foreign languages as an opportunity for travelers to ingratiate themselves with locals. His new book, Fluent in Three Months explains how to get talking in foreign tongues faster than through vocabulary flashcards and grammar textbooks. The “Irish Polyglot” also uses Skype as a way to connect with native language speakers around the world who are looking for tutoring opportunities or people who they can practice their English with.

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John and Hilda Denham had traveled broadly around the world before first visiting Costa Rica. But when John saw the leatherback and green sea turtles pull themselves onto the beach to give birth, he was taken by their vulnerability to crabs, gulls and poachers. To try to help, even on a local level, he bought a swath of jungle next to a turtle nesting beach and established the Pacuare Nature Reserve. Twenty-five years later, they are able to save 98% of the turtle nests adjacent to their property. For their success in helping leatherback numbers stabilize and their efforts to teach local school kids about the animals, they’ve been awarded the 2013 Sustainable Travel Leadership Award, established by United Airlines and National Geographic.

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- The United States government regulates so many drugs, but Murray Carpenter points out that one drug is often overlooked. Caffeine is sold over the counter in many regular grocery items we don’t think twice about purchasing. Carpenter points out that its use is regulated in drugs by pharmaceutical companies, but has no limits when put in food. He examined the caffiene industry in his new book, Caffeinated and shares surprising secrets about the drug’s use in coffee, energy drinks and why it is so hard to regulate.

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- Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the late 1990′s. Their numbers quickly grew as they carved a spot in the ecosystem, helping to curb deer and elk numbers. As the predators grew more comfortable, their numbers grew outward, colonizing new forests in Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon. One wolf looking for a home roamed as far as northern California looking for a home. National Geographic Young Explorer Jay Simpson is set to recreate the circuitous path that wolf, known as OR-7, took. Simpson’s 1,200 mile hiking and mountain biking expedition starts in May.

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Hour 2

- Eight people have completed the Explorers Grand Slam of climbing the tallest mountain on each continent and reaching both poles. Cecilie Skog is the only woman to do so. The feat is becoming increasingly difficult as the Arctic Ocean’s waters continue to open over the North Pole. The Norwegian explorer shares exploits from her various polar adventures, including one in which she contributed to her team’s success by swimming across open water to pull her teammates and their equipment to the safety of the ice. She also recommends sharing a hug or giving flowers to combat the South Pole blues.

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- Heroes receive all the accolades, but Paul Martin says that history’s villains were much more fun to write about. In his new book, Villains, Scoundrels and Rogues: Incredible True Tales of Mischief and Mayhem he describes baddies of all stripes. Martin shares the story of “Axis Sally,” an American whose quest for fame had her joining the Nazi propaganda machine in World War II; a wealthy miser who lamed her own son an attempt to avoid hospital fees; and a bumbling counterfeiter who misspelled “Washington,” on his one-dollar duplicates.

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- In the name of national security and the War on Drugs, the United States has erected large walls and fences as physical barriers to entry between itself and Mexico. But John Davis says that the only thing the fences do is disrupt natural migration routes for animals, rather than stop the flow of humans or illegal drugs between the countries. The conservationist and outdoorsman walked from Mexico to British Columbia in an attempt to understand the needs that wildlife have as they try to weave their way between protected areas and human-dominated landscapes.

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- As the planet’s climate warms, polar landscapes are among the areas most impacted by the shortening frozen seasons. Kayaker and filmmaker Jon Bowermaster lugged two 3D cameras to the frozen continent to capture the changes happening there, but also to bring the natural beauty to a large group of people who will never make the long trip south. The film, “Antarctica 3D: On the Edge,” played at Washington D.C.’s Environmental Film Fest and is making its ways to large format theaters around the country.

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- In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd explains his travel philosophy of how he tries to connect with people around the world by embracing their local nature, hobbies and food. He has had countless positive experiences over the years following this theory, but he admits that he may have immersed himself too far into the local customs in Laos when he met a man who distills snake and scorpion moonshine.

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