Picks and Pans Review: The Best of the Caribbean
If "truth in travel" has become the rallying cry of the '80s tourist, we hereby anoint Bill Van Arsdale—producer of this series—as the Ralph Nader of video travel guides. In this low-key, 90-minute production, Van Arsdale takes viewers quickly and thoroughly around each island, pointing out subtle differences that distinguish Anguilla from Antigua, Martinique from Saint Martin. A visit to the divers' paradise of Cozumel, for example, includes stops at the funky, cheap hotels favored by the hardcore divers. Van Arsdale, an independent filmmaker who takes no money from tourist boards, explores not only the major attractions such as the beaches, landmarks and hotels (including sweeps of individual rooms). He also aims his camera "away from the tourist routes," at ramshackle houses and—gasp!—even poor people. Finally, how can you not love a guide who talks turkey? On Jamaica: "To tour Jamaica and not mention marijuana would be like leaving wine out of a guide to France. Ganja, or 'the herb,' as it is known to Jamaicans, is part of the culture. Younger visitors can expect to be approached frequently by young Jamaicans." All those who want to see the real Caribbean shouldn't miss this series. (Van Arsdale's Video Travel Guides, $39.95; 800-262-8181)
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