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The year is 1532. Esteban, a young boy, is told that he was saved by Mendoza, a navigator on a Spanish ship from a ship wreck in a storm at sea. The only clue to his identity is a medal that Esteban wears about his neck. Esteban joins Mendoza on a trip from Spain to the new world - the Americas - where on route he meets two other children - Zia - an Inca girl and Tao, the last member of a highly advanced race. All three are looking for different things - Esteban to find his father and his identity, Zia for her father and Tao for remains of his race. The clues for all three quests however all point to the seven Cities of Gold and so the children, Mendoza, Sancho and Pedro - two other sailors and friends of Mendoza start searching in a massive treasure hunt for the Cities Of Gold... Written by
Lee Horton <Leeh@tcp.co.uk>
Each episode was followed by a very short live-action educative documentary. See more »
During the opening credits, Esteban is seen controlling the golden condor using 2 control levers. However, during the episodes proper, he only uses one (the condor just has one, shaped like a cobra). See more »
English Opening Titles Narrator:
It is the Sixteenth Century. From all over Europe great ships sail west to conquer the New World - the Americas; the men eager to seek their fortune, to find new adventures in new lands. They long to cross uncharted seas and discover unknown countries; to find secret gold on a mountain trail high in the Andes. They dream of following the path of the setting sun, that leads to El Dorado and The Mysterious Cities of Gold.
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Like most of the rest of you I agree that this was the best cartoon series made in the 1980s. I wanted to be Esteban, to fly the golden condor, to visit Machu Picchu, I also even made a gold mediallon and of course drove my parents insane by singing the theme song all day every day. However, I've noticed that this program provided a lot more than happy memories. It taught me a great deal about South American history, geography, and ancient civilizations.
I saw some of the series again recently and what struck me admist the attacks of nostalgia was the actual historical accuracy of certain images and scenes. Obviously it was an exploration of the lives of conquistadors such as Pizarro and Cortes, but the use of myth (ie - that Esteban was the child of the sun, that there was a 'El Dorado') was common amongst early explorers. Vital characters such as La Malinche - la chingada, the lover and translator for Cortes, who is seen as the black stain in Mexican history by many Mexicans - pop up all over the place and the portayal of ancient tribes such as the Incas and Amazons in their magnificent Peruvian/Brazilian backdrops is remarkably accurate. The greed of the Spaniards is conveyed well, as is their undeniable bravery, and the romance of the heralded 'explorer' such as Mendoza shines through. The children are clearly the most important characters, and they actually reminded me of Mark Twain's Huck Finn, a cool intelligent 12 year old boy with adventurous blood and an active imagination, who seems trapped in the moral dilemma of helping European concepts of civilizations to overcome native tribes and 'savage' peoples. The journey they take explores the whole Latin American continent and no-one can say that they didn't want to go to Machu Picchu and walk in Esteban's footsteps after seeing this cartoon!
Having studied a course in pre-Colonial Latin American history at Uni and having been to Latin America it is remarkable how much this TV series taught me. Perhaps given the average intellectual level of most cartoons nowadays, the present generation of kiddies should be treated to re-runs of this fantastic program, or even a sequel?!
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