I keep trying to tell you guys to watch this show. It is so good. If you like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show, it is kind of like that but with just one guy on a mission and one camera guy. Oh and he seems to be in life or death situations more often than not. Todd Carmichael is a coffee guy who goes all over the world to import rare and/or unusual coffee beans back to the US. He goes to these destinations with a camera guy he calls Hollywood. Hollywood usually manages to keep the camera rolling even when he shouldn’t. So it’s a travel show. But not a travel show. And the places they go are places you nor I will ever venture to. The episode I am watching now is set in Tanzania. Todd has a client looking for some coffee he read on a blog exists there. Todd is skeptical but is going to go hunt for it anyway. It’s not just the wild animals everywhere that are a problem. There are poachers there as well.
Almost everywhere Todd goes he knows someone. This time the only guy he knows is in north Tanzania. The mythical coffee beans are in south Tanzania. Todd goes to him for advice. On the way to the guy’s remote ranch Todd points out to Hollywood that he promised his daughter a picture of an elephant. Todd, being Todd wants to see how close they can get. Hollywood ain’t happy Todd is putting his life in danger for a picture of an elephant. The mama elephant and the baby are not happy with Todd either. But Todd gets his picture. And somehow, the battery dies on their jeep. I should point out here this Jeep has not top and looks like something from 1972. Oh crap. Todd was just fucking with Hollywood. Ha! Ha! Heart stuck in throat, Ha! And Todd laughs and laughs and off they go.
What is not a joke is that Todd and Hollywood manage to get their asses stuck in between a huge herd of water buffalo and a pack of hungry lions. They manage to get away when a couple of antelopes distract both groups. Meanwhile, they have to get out of the truck to refuel. This whole episode is making my blood pressure shoot up and my heart race. Finally, they arrive to Peter’s ranch.
Peter is going to help with getting a bush plane and some wheels for Todd in the south. What he won’t have is any protection. In the south, if you run up on some poachers they will shoot you. If you look like a poacher and the government militias see you, they will shoot you. The plane lands in Songea the largest city in Tanzania. From there they have to drive across vast and open spaces full of dangerous wildlife and dangerous people to a tiny town called Mbinga. Even before they get out of Songea they find a road closure. They are forced to take some small tracks in the wilderness.
After a short ride in backwoods, they are losing light and need to stop to camp. Just as they are preparing to do that, they run up on a group of poachers already setting up their camp. DANGEROUS! They manage to move past them decide not to pull out all of the gear because it is too dangerous. They will be sleeping under the truck, something they end up doing quite often on this show. As they are trying to get to some food, Todd discovers that among all the camping equipment Peter had packed in the Land Rover, he included a rifle. Todd says now they look like poachers. Great!
The next day they find the coffee. It was too easy. It’s too soon in the show to find the coffee. They as usual, have attracted the attention of the entire village. There is a problem. I knew there would be. The point of the trip is to get AAA coffee. That refers to the bean size. They have it, but the bags they have are mixed with inferior beans as well. Todd has convinced the guys to run everything through a sorter several times to extract only the AAA beans. This may not sound interesting? But trust me it is. Eight hours later Todd has seven bags of AAA coffee. He is ready to head home. But there is a train strike so he is going to have to drive. The Land Rover is full of expensive gear. He is going to just have to leave that for the villagers or something to make room for the coffee. Also, he still has to get the gun back to Peter. The gun is registered to Peter and if anything happens with that gun, Peter will be held responsible.
They pull over to make a freeze-dried meal. After lunch, Todd and Hollywood are content and happily bantering in the Jeep enjoying their off-road adventure. Until they run over a bunch of spikes on the trail disabling their vehicle. That is when a bunch of scary guys run up on them. DANGEROUS! The guys are there to offer them a tow. How convenient. Todd missed the spikes and the truck is not really stuck. He manages to get rid of the guys by paying them to leave. They manage to get back to a paved road. They have to stop at a hotel where there is one room. They have to bring in all the coffee and the gun. Then they have to reload it the next morning. This is a lot of work for some coffee beans.
On the way to the shipping site. they get pulled over for speeding. The Tanzanian police don’t seem particularly pleasant. Dude is pissed off that Hollywood has a camera rolling. He makes them both get out of the car. They are just praying he doesn’t find the rifle. But bad cop was apparently just in charge of the radar gun and they guy they had to pay for the fine is much nicer. They pay a fine and apparently it’s against the law to get busted for speeding twice in one day, so the ticket acts like a get out of speeding free card for the rest of the day! Bonus!
They make it to the port city which is a cool looking place. The camera man gets dumped because he can’t go into port and because Todd needs to pass of the gun. So the footage of the trip has to stop there.
Two weeks later, Todd gets the coffee to the Four Seasons guy and everyone lives happily ever after.
Dangerous Grounds airs Tuesdays at 9 on The Travel Channel.