When I would plop down in front of the TV in grade school, an after-school pudding cup in hand, I would stare, mesmerized, at the beautiful and mysterious dark-haired thief in the red hat: Carmen Sandiego. Her adventures: epic. Her tenacity: unbounded. Her mission: highly illegal. It was my job as the viewer to solve clues, determine where she’d been and where she was headed, and solve the case—all while being surreptitiously taught about geography.
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I had no idea back then that I would one day visit many of the destinations Carmen scoured for national treasures with her V.I.L.E. team of underlings. No idea that Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego, the educational television show that drew me in with its far-flung destinations, would become a franchise that has spanned more than 30 years. The geography-based mystery video game first released in 1985 is still alive and well today through the Carmen Sandiego animated series on Netflix.
Itching to retrace Carmen’s footsteps? Here are five locations she explored in some of the original games.
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
In the capital of Papua New Guinea, near the lush mountains and rainforests of the substantial island not far north of Australia, Carmen searches for taipans and head hunter artifacts among the tribes of the Pacific island nation. Here, the V.I.L.E. gang peep volcanoes and try to get their hands on a valuable boar’s tusk and shrunken head.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
From this bustling autonomous district along the stunning coast of Argentina, Carmen explores along the mountains and plains of the vast country, including the Parana River and Tierra del Fuego, to find a solid gold bola and original gaucho apparel in this formerly Spanish colony.
A city that spans two continents—Europe and Asia—Istanbul is one of the most populated in the world, and it’s one with a rich and storied history. Visitors can explore much of this history through dozens of historic buildings and museums. Here, Carmen visits destinations like the Black Sea and discovers treasures from within ancient walls, such as Constantine’s Jeweled Cross.
Carmen heads to the rolling hills of Rwanda’s largest and capital city, Kigali, in search of a Watusi King’s Headdress and other artifacts amidst communities of rare mountain gorillas. Rivers are rafted, volcanoes explored, and animals desperately sought after during her Rwanda adventure.
San Marino, San Marino
Known for its pottery and picturesque Mount Titano, San Marino is the smallest and oldest state in Europe, and it is completely surrounded by Italy. Carmen isn’t there for the tourism, though; she’s after the regent’s valuable stamp collection, among other valuables.
Carmen Sandiego not only taught a generation about spectacular outdoor places across the great wide world but also inspired people of all ages to get out there and explore it. With the franchise’s reboots across modern platforms, Carmen is still revealing the mysteries and wonders of those places today.