The Travel Channel's travel maven Samantha Brown got to go all over Latin America while researching her new series, which debuts tonight at 7 p.m. CST. She shared a few of her favorite moments with us...
Samantha said it was fascinating to take a tour of the favelas, or shanty towns, in Rio de Janeiro. "They're full of people who work very hard for what they have," she said. At night, she could hear machine gun fire coming from these makeshift cities.
A more pleasant memory came from stolling the streets of Rio -- something she was repeatedly warned not to do alone -- and stumbling on a cafe where patrons were singing Antonio Carlos Jobim tunes.
Samantha still isn't entirely sure what's in a "naca tamale," but she is sure it's one of the best things she ate in Latin America. "They're only made in the homes of women on Sundays. I took a taxi to someone's house. You step over the dog and walk past the man in the chair watching TV and go in the back to the kitchen, where you get this massive amoutn of food for $1."
She fell in love with the Coca-Cola Cafe in Panama City. The 1940's style cafe had prices to match. She saw old women sitting around with curlers in their hair, chatting away. The cafe has no ties to the beverage giant, but Coca-Cola allows them to keep the name. "They know it's the Real Thing," she said.
Bad weather meant good luck for Samantha when she was visiting the famed Machu Picchu. She was staying at the lodge near the archeological wonder when there was a huge rainstorm and mud slide. The weather prevented other tourists from being able to get to the site, so she and a few others basically had it to themselves for several hours. "To be at Machu Picchu alone is unbelievably powerful," she said.
Another one of her favorite Peruvian moments came when she was taking a walk in the charming town of Cuzco and an older man joined her. "He wanted to practice his English and I wanted to practice my Spanish," she said. When he asked her what her name was, she said Samantha. He immediately wiggled his nose -- a reference to the defunct TV show "Bewitched." "It's been years since anyone's done that when they hear my name," she said.
You can check out more details of Samantha's adventures at travelchannel.com.