THE DESERT SPEAKS is an Emmy award-winning series focusing on desert regions around the world. Much more than a nature documentary, THE DESERT SPEAKS presents stories about the people, cultures, plants, animals and geological features encountered on travel adventures in deserts near and far away.
Host David Yetman is a research scientist at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center. The epitome of a “desert rat,” Yetman has lived in the Southwest for nearly 50 years. He is a nationally known author and accomplished photographer who specializes in the plants, geography and people of northwestern Mexico. Using boats, bikes and burros, Yetman takes viewers from Bolivia to Baja California, bringing his boundless enthusiasm, energy and knowledge to the series.
Located just below the elbow of Baja California, San Ignacio lagoon is the temporary home to some of the peninsula’s most famous visitors—the Gray Whales. Yetman observes the whales feeding, nursing, teaching, cuddling and courting from a tiny fishing boat just a few feet away.
Bolivia: The Cold Desert Frontier
The city of Potosí, in southwestern Bolivia, is the highest city in the world and also a starting point to reach the world's highest desert.
Ancient Peoples of the High Desert
High in the foothills of the Bolivian Andes is the historic village of Santiago de K, where life continues nearly the same as it has for centuries. At over 12,600 feet above sea level, in the highest desert in the world, residents harvest potatoes and quinoa to use as barter for outside goods.
Bolivia: Volcanoes, Flamingos, and Salt Lakes
There are many wonders—both flora and fauna—to be found in the wild, frigid desert of southwestern Bolivia.
River Runs Dry
Revered as sacred by ancient peoples and modern-day indigenous people alike, the history of Arizona's Gila River is the story of nearly all modern desert rivers.
Cactus Capital of the World
Today, 18 species of columnar cacti grow in Mexico's Valle de Tehuacán, all of which are used one way or another by native peoples. Each June, deep in the valley, residents harvest the luscious fruit of the giant cacti as they have for generations.
Tehuacán: A Spanish Legacy
A trip through valley of Tehuacán to the ancient city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico is an exploration of Spanish influence. From the construction of immense missions to the introduction of the plants, the Spanish impact on native culture is undeniable.
Oaxaca: Footsteps in Tradition
The Valle de Tehuacán, in the Mexican state of Puebla, is most likely the birthplace of domestic corn. The region also is famous for the indigenous artisans who use native plants to continue the artistic traditions of their ancestors.
Shadows of the Ancients
Archaeological evidence suggests that the ancestral Pueblo Indians (Anasazi) of the southwestern desert region marked astronomical events, perhaps as guides or records of their agricultural and ceremonial calendar.
Visiting Ancient Mayo Lands
Yetman travels with a group of bird watchers from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum through coastal and forest habitats in search of some of the rarest birds in this region of northwest Mexico. Along the way, viewers catch a rare glimpse into the life, culture and traditions of the native Mayo Indians.
Baja Journeys: Volcanoes/Oceans
This exploration begins around the coastal town of Santa Rosalia in Baja California. The episode investigates some of the region’s recent lava flows and examines some of the resident rodent population.
Produced by KUAT.
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