Posted: 08/04/2009


Edge of Existence - Exploring communities on the edge of civilization

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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Investigative reporter Donal MacIntyre sets out on a world exploration to prove that even as folks struggle in the United States, making ends meet and hammering a living out of what may seem nothing is done in mere strides in some parts of the world.

MacIntyre is an athlete and multi-award-winning journalist who has gone undercover to expose soccer hooligans, organized criminals and abuses at eldercare facilities. But his experiences in the Arabian Peninsula area of Oman tested his resolve.

In an scene of scorching sand and searing heat, during adventures shown on the two-DVD Edge of Existence set, MacIntyre was welcomed into the Al-Amri family as members carried on the Bedouin tradition of herding goats, racing camels and long treks across the hot desert to trade dates for dried figs. MacIntyre even tested his domestic skills, but the female head of the family called him to task for not getting up early enough to help with breakfast.

And try as he might, travelling across the hot desert just wasn’t what MacIntyre imagined it would be. He suffered from the hot sun, as well as received hand injuries during the trek. And finally, he figured out how to ride the camel properly, even though he had to pad it with a pillow.

Other adventures show the Mamani family in Bolivia, enduring the blinding sun, bitter cold and thin air, as they mine salt from the Altiplano high in the Andes Mountains. During his time here, MacIntyre learns a bit about salt harvesting and trading.

And sea gypsies in Borneo, who rarely set foot on land, live on roach-infested 10-by-16 foot boats. Pilar and Sabung, two brothers, welcome MacIntyre into their family, as they enjoy spear fishing, stingray hunting and reluctant trips ashore.

Edge of Existence-Exploring communities on the edge of civilization, which shows how humans thrive, day after day, in what seem insurmountable conditions in some of nature’s most extreme environments is available Tuesday, August 4, from Athena. For more information, visit Web site

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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