Stacey Dooley: Gypsy Kids in Crisis
Caught between anti-gypsy hostility, demands of child protection services, and growing up in struggling families, Stacey explores if there’s any hope for Hungary’s Roma gypsy kids in care.
Spencer’s lightweight approach means he sleeps rough, eats what’s available and navigates through some of the world’s toughest terrain. We follow the drama as Spencer becomes hospitalised with chronic malaria, stops breathing after being stung by a killer wasp and becomes lost and stranded for three days in a 12,000 square kilometre desert.
This series ventures to places few have been and no matter what the conditions, Spencer’s infectious enthusiasm shines through.
A Diesel Films Production
Episode 1 / Bogota, Colombia to Zumba, Ecuador
Spencer starts his epic adventure from the Colombian capital, Bogota, and heads south through extremely wild country to the border of Ecuador. On the way he has to negotiate the notorious Trampolin del Diablo, considered one of the most dangerous roads in the world, which has claimed hundreds of lives over the past decades. Spencer reaches Quito, the capital of Ecuador, finds lodgings in what turned out to be a brothel. He attempts the climb to the summit of Mount Tungarahua, 5023mts, but suffers altitude sickness. He eventually makes it across the Andean range over snow-capped mountains and into spectacular landscapes of forests, waterfalls and verdant green foliage. He is bitten by spiders and other insects which leave open sores on his body. In Peru a gruelling ride takes him through constant, hazardous rocky landslides.
Episode 2 / Zumba, Ecuador through Peru to Uyuni, Bolivia
Leaving Zumba on the border, Spencer travels over the famous Chachapoyas, at 3600 mts, to Celendin on the windiest road in the world which threatens to topple him over the precipitous edge of the stony road. The Chachapoyas, is home of the Warriors of the Clouds, a light skinned Andean people living in the cloud forests who created cliff side dwellings and a settlement area. After Trujillo, Spencer rides west to the huge adobe complex of the Chan Chan. It is an abandoned habitation once the home of the ancient Chimu Kingdom. He visits the mystical Nazca Lines visible on the desert floor. Then to the Chauchilla burial site where 2300 year old mummies are preserved. It is the driest place on earth. The desert riding is inspiring, marked by the challenge of huge shifting dunes. Lake Titicaca is next on route. Heading to the Bolivian border he is bitten by a bullet ant and suffers excruciating pain. But after La Paz, the highest capital in the world, he traverses the incredible Death Road climbing to 4720m. There are shrines on the way for those who have lost their lives on this
deadly route. Facing more dangerous riding along dirt and rocky roads Spencer struggles through the amazing Yungas Valley and
continues to Uyuni, the gateway to Salar Salt Flats. Here he sees signs for the start of the Dakar Rally.
Episode 3 / Uyuni, Bolivia, through Tupiza, Argentina, to San Antonio Oeste, Argentina
Venturing out of Uyuni Spencer experiences a life threatening incident on the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats. His bike has a blowout far off the normal routes and he is stranded for three days in temperatures above 40 degrees and suffers desperately from sun-blisters and dehydration. After recovery and repairs to the bike Spencer rides to the surreal and heart breaking train cemetery. He films the sad and evocative rusting locomotives left in the desert. Passing through the Cerrodelos Siete Colores, he camps for free in a derelict dinosaur park courtesy of a local criminal gang, responsible for some very serious crimes. Near Rioja it is searingly hot and dry which causes extreme discomfort. The route now takes him south to Mendoza situated in Argentina’s Cuyo region. At this point Spencer crashes on a rocky, sandy road (a notorious section of the world famous Dakar Rally) and cracks his ribs and damages his knee.
Episode 4 / San Antonio Oeste, Argentina, to Tierra del Fuego,Chile. Puerto Madryn
Spencer crosses the vast pampas area of Patagonia (2000 lonely kilometres) and reaches the coast. He visits Puerto Madryn where
Welsh people settled in 1865 and on to Trelew, another Welsh settlement. He sees a variety of wild life, armadillos, vicunas, skunks,
rheas and wild cats. Further down the coast Spencer passes Punto Tombo where there is a huge colony of penguins and continues to Comodoria Rivadavia. The weather is turning cold and there are high winds building up. He camps amongst 250,000 penguins. Spencer is then halted in Piedra Buena in the tempestuous winds and heavy downpours of cold rain. The freezing winds add to Spencer’s struggle and on occasions it becomes too dangerous to ride and he has to camp on the unforgiving plains. He determinedly carries on to Rio Gallagos, a few kilometres from the Chilean border and two days ride from Ushuaia. Crossing the border at Dungeness Spencer enters
Antarctica!! And heads to Tierra del Fuego national park.
Episode 5 / Tierra del Fuego, Chile, north through Argentina
After Tierra del Fuego he retraces his route through Chile and over the border into Argentina. He travels for miles in deserted rocky terrain. He is forced to camp in high winds, struggling to hold the tent down with rocks and stones. Still heading north it is below zero on the edge of the southern Patagonian ice field in the province of Santa Cruz. He camps in a National Park where there are marble formations sculpted by the water.
Episode 6 / Chile Chico, Argentina to Santiago. Chile
Before leaving Chile Chico Spencer is stung by a killer wasp and suffers a severe anaphylactic shock. He is rushed to hospital and given
adrenalin injections and oxygen. He is told that he stopped breathing on the way to hospital and it is vital to rest. He recovers but has a very badly swollen face. Spencer decides to continue and rides on and crosses the border onto very wild and deserted dirt roads. He has to load his bike onto any available boat or ferry to cross the waterways to reach Coihaique. He then travels on to Bariloche in the glacier region of Chile and camps at the base of the staggering Osorno Volcano which he scales partly by bike and then on foot. This area was also
visited by Charles Darwin who experienced an earthquake there in 1835. Whilst in a street bodega the whole place burns down as the kitchen catches fire and Spencer is also robbed at an ATM.
Episode 7 / Santiago, Chile through Argentina, Uruguay and on to Iguacu
Spencer reaches Uspallata through pouring rain and bitterly cold weather. He encounters the treacherous Los Caracoles pass, which descends 11,000ft through a never ending series of hairpin bends. It is named ‘the snails pass’ as it is often blocked by incredibly slow moving lorries that have a tendency to slip off the road or to break down. When dry it is daunting but in the rains it becomes a death challenge. Spencer reaches Chile Chico a small town in Chilean Patagonia on the southern shore of General Carrera lake. before continuing north on the mainland of Chile. He camps in some idyllic surroundings. With a very sick bike Spencer struggles on to Santiago where he rebuilds it over ten days. Spencer passes through San Luis in central Argentina, before heading further east to Brazil and on to Uruguay. Spencer crosses the border at Colon and heads to the the capital city where Gauchos honour him with a cattle drive and he is shown relics of the Graf Spee that sank off the coast of Uruguay. Next stop Montevideo, capital of Uruguay. and then east to Punto del Este before some fantastic riding through varied country side in Rio Grande do Su. He heads to Iguazu Falls on the Argentine border.
Episode 8 / Iguazu, Argentina, through Paraguay and back into Brazil to Salvador
Riding north along the border of Paraguay and then into Brazil takes Spencer through the south and central regions of this vast country. Facing extreme fatigue he fights his way through thick jungle and treacherous rain forests.
Episode 9 / Salvador, Brazil to Cayenne, French Guiana
This section of the adventure takes Spencer through the Amazon basin after spending several days traversing the jungle he heads for Belem and takes a ferry to French Guiana which is the only means of reaching Cayenne. The Amazon rain forest covers much of north-western Brazil and extends into Colombia, Peru and other South American countries.
Episode 10 / Cayene, French Guiana, through Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela and return to Bogota, Columbia
On this final part of his incredible adventure Spence takes a boat to travel round the coast to the capital of Suriname, Paramarimbo. It is a
difficult to load the Yamaha on to a pirogue!! From Paramaribo Spencer rides on sand tracks, along the coast, to the isolated Georgetown, capital of Guyana, before crossing into what has been recently named as the most DANGEROUS country in the world, Venezuela. He travels through the relatively unknown centre of Venezuela to the chaotic western border with Colombia at San Cristobal which is struggling with an exodus of 35 000 refugees per day. Unfortunately he is prevented from crossing the border into Colombia and has to make a 12.000km detour back through the Amazonas and the aptly named 886 kilometre Ghost Road and then west into Ecuador and north through Peru back to Bogota to complete the circumnavigation.
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