I watched a TV show recently that really got me thinking. It was compelling and exciting to watch; I ended up watching all 8 episodes in one weekend because I couldn’t stop watching. The show was called “Out of the Wild: Venezuala” on The Discovery Channel. I watched it streaming on Netflix, but I think you can also watch it on the Discovery Channel website.
“Nine ordinary people were flown in, dropped off and abandoned in a remote corner of Venezuela’s southern frontier — a lost world that once lured explorers in search of El Dorado. Now the volunteers, armed with only the most basic supplies, must traverse 70 brutal miles of uncharted terrain back to civilization.”
I want to say first that I never enjoyed “Survivor.” I watched a few episodes (under protest) and thought it was stupid and gimmicky. It was more a game show than anything, I thought. “Out of the Wild” is way different. It’s not a game show, it’s not a competition, there is no prize at the end and the participants have to survive!
I didn’t think the show would interest me, but I was pulled in immediately. Episode one started with the 9 people being dropped off with just a few supplies. After sleeping on Mt. Roraima, they trek into the jungle where they battle hunger, fatigue and weather. By day three, hypothermia could force the first to leave. If one of the participants wants to leave, they press a button on a GPS monitor and a search and rescue helicopter picks them up.
What I loved about this show was how they worked together to survive. Because they weren’t in competition with each other, they were trying to survive together. The teamwork was pretty impressive–as was the break down that’s common in small groups of people who just get plain sick of each other.
They often went DAYS without food. They were burning thousands of calories hiking through the jungle, yet eating as little as 300 calories, or no calories, a day.
Seeing the transformation and the effects of starvation was shocking. Not just the weight loss: but the other side effects. The slowed speech, the lethargy, the lack of motivation to do anything (one episode they didn’t even bother building a shelter because they were so exhausted and hungry). There was moral issues, where they just didn’t seem to have that will to go on. They also had physical problems like intense weakness, blacking out and passing out whenever they stood up, a racing heart beat, dizziness….the effects seemed endless. It was honestly difficult to watch. Some of the participants became skeletal.
The show wasn’t a negative thing, though. Yes they were starving but they also became creative. Their resourcefulness was incredible at times. They chopped down trees because the inside of the tree was edible. They captured a deadly wasp nest because something inside of it was edible (it was too gross for me to watch). They ate grubs (YUCK!). They did whatever they could to survive.
What was so awesome was how in tune with nature they became. Their lives were simple: they built simple shelters, they cooked their own REAL food. Several of them commented that they felt so much better being that close to nature, instead of just driving to a grocery store and buying food in a box. Many of them embraced the “Hunter/Gatherer” life and said it make them feel empowered. They felt like they were in touch with their ancestors who had to do that to survive. It gave them confidence and a self-esteem boost. They realized that the stuff they worried about at home didn’t matter. Living off the earth mattered.
That’s what I liked so much about the show. It made me think: if I grew my own food and had my own animals on a farm I surely would NOT need a gym membership. That thought made me really sad. This fitness lifestyle in our day in age is a farce. If we were back on the farms doing it all ourselves from dawn til dusk our bodies would be healthy. Period. We’d be growing our own food, spending 12 hours or more a day moving our bodies, and we’d collapse in our beds at night too exhausted to have insomnia.
I wonder how much of my “life stuff” is in direct correlation to this sedentary/electronic lifestyle? My anxiety? My insomnia? My sheer boredom and need for constant stimulation? I wonder if that would all be fixed with a healthier lifestyle like “the olden days.” This is not to say that what I’m doing is wrong (or what anyone else is doing). It just makes me wonder what kind of sacrifices humanity has made with “progress”? Have we exchanged our active/close-the-earth life for a diabetic/sedentary one?
Those were just some of my musings while I watched that show. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone nuts! I don’t plan on unplugging and moving to some farm. Although, the more I read about urban farming and people going back to their roots, the more it appeals to me. But really, could I give up my iPhone? Probably not.
It really made me think about how I would survive. First off, I don’t know how to start a fire from scratch. Right there I’m screwed! I barely remember girl scouts (where I learned) and have never had to try to make my own fire. I do think if we were near water I could fish. I do have practice fishing and gutting a fish. Other than that, I think I’d be at a loss, which makes me sad. I wish I was more in touch with Mother Nature.
I really recommend this show. I hope people watch it and enjoy it as much as I did. Days later I am still thinking about the show.
QUESTION: Have you seen this show? What did you think? Do you think you could survive in the wild?
About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.