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?
Pkay well now you have me curious enough to give this show a try. Though I am greatly concerned for the health of these people. Seems kinda like gladiator days where people watched others suffer for entertainment. Not a good thing.
I will be the first to admit I could never survive in the jungle. Nor would I want to. I like my bed and my iPad and my ebooks. I like my pasta from the grocery store and chicken that is so far away from a living thing. I saw at a market in Israel where you picked your chicken and they cut off its head and handed it to you. So gross.
But I do hope to have a garden someday when I get away from apartments and into a house. That is just gonna be years from now as I just started med school and my husband starts a phd program in the fall.
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I know it’s how we have meat on our table, but I totally could not have been at that market where you picked the chicken and they cut the head off. I just can’t handle that. Maybe in survival mode your instincts kick in and you just do it to survive, but right now…it makes me cringe. My boyfriend and I also have decided we probably can’t get chickens for our yard like we planned. We realized we’d have to kill them someday and neither of us can do it!
I too watched all 8 episodes! I found it really interesting what they said about the act of eatting bring up moral and giving them positive motivation even if it was only 50 calories. It’s amazing what the mind is capable of doing for us! There is an Alaska edition too, I think it’s still on Netflix. I totally agree about the whole ” getting back to our root” being an apartment dweller I miss the yard work…I know that sounds weird but you get fairly instant rewards with your home looking better, you burn calories but you are on a mission so it feels easy…and I totally sleep Ike a lump afterward! I was recently in Vegas, because we weren’t so much into the gambling we did tons of walking around and because a city block is like a half mile we went further that I could have imagined! Being more tired I snacked less and slept like none other… I think we need more vacation:)
Hey Kristin! I saw Alaska too. I didn’t like that one as much as Venezuela but it was pretty good too. I agree! There is SO much satisfaction in growing your own food. I discovered that last summer when we had our first garden. The lettuce we grew was the best salad I’ve had in my life and totally ruined me on grocery store produce. It’s just not the same.
This weekend we rotated the soil in our planters and mixed in our compost to the planter beds to prep them for our garden. I was feeling kind of blue lately and just spending 40 minutes in the yard in the dirt with the sun shining made me feel SOOO good. I felt uplifted, happy and productive. Amazing.
Yes, I agree–the moral thing in the show was so true. I’ve experienced it.
I think with anything, as you make 1 thing more convenient/easier you give up some of the benefits you did get with the task being harder. So giving up having to work for your food or starve, death rates being higher, getting sick more due to fatigue or being exposed to the elements means living a physically easier and longer life but it causes other problems. It causes us to need exercise, to need to rely on grocery stores out to make a profit and not necessarily actually FEED us, to potentially give us anxiety and too much time to do nothing but sit and watch tv. While some of this luxury is good – obviously it has it’s bad, too.
My Dad’s motto in life is “everything in moderation” which is always easier said than done – however, it’s so true. Same with this scenario. I’m not sure we need to go 100% back to living off the Earth (I need bug spray and Air conditioning and heat!) but I don’t think we should forget to have some perspective and maybe do what we can/want to still appreciate our Earth. I do what i can with recycling, not using my car whenever possible, and sometimes buying from Farmer’s Markets. I’d love to get better at gardening and creating my own herbs/veggies to save money and eat better. And while I don’t think I’d enjoy spending all day plowing a field year round, I definitely enjoy going to the gym, going for runs outside, going for hikes/climbs, camping on trips vs staying in a hotel, being at the barn with the horses…
I do think some of the luxuries in life are to blame for some of our issues in life – but I also like to think that as long as we take control of our diet/exercise and still appreciate our world then maybe it will decrease?
You make a lot of good points and I agree with your dad. Moderation is key, but some things do make us lazier. I know that technology has made me lazier. But last summer when we had our garden I worked my butt off weeding, planting, feeding, de-slugging, harvesting. It was so much more work than I ever thought it would be, but it was totally worth it.
And I’m with you on the bug spray. Oh my god. I *think* I’d like to go back to the Earth but then reality sets in and I do like the comforts of living–central air, heat, food in the pantry…
Funny that you should write this because yesterday I found this article “Finding Dolly Freed” who wrote a book in the 70’s about frugal living and living off the land (here’s the link http://www.paige-williams.com/ ). The article was very interesting to me, even though I’ve never heard of Dolly Freed or Possum Living. She and her father grew their own veggies, got fruit from an abandoned orchard, and raised their own rabbits and chickens for meat.
I think those shows are fascinating. There was one about a man who was dropped off somewhere in the wild and was supposed to stay for a certain amount of time left to his own devices for food and shelter. Same thing with being able to evacuate out, which he did. It might have been called Survivorman
Do I think I could do this? No, because I don’t have any experience or desire to kill and dress my own meat. Eww! I could handle the fruit and veggie part, and would enjoy being outside walking around.
Thanks for the link, I will check it out. I’ve been reading a lot of books lately about urban farmers who are really returning to the land that made the tv show even more interesting to me.
I don’t know that I could hunt either. I could fish, but…..
I think I’m going to have to check this out on Netflix. I’ve had the same thought process you did while watching. I saw my grandparents working their fruit and vegetable farm every day when I was little, and it was hard work. I’ve always harbored a wish for a simpler life, where you actually have to work to get your food.
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YES– you put it the right way– a “simpler life.” My aunt has a farm here in Oregon and as a kid I spent a few weeks each summer staying with her. I was a Seattle city kid and for two weeks each summer I got the feel of farm living. It was awesome. I’d play with my cousins, we’d pick beans and blackberries during the day and then we’d can the beans. They had cows and pigs and bunnies. It was a blast. My aunt made us go outside after breakfast and we couldn’t come back in until lunch time.
The show sounded super interesting until I made it to your bug comment. I have the skills needed to survive, but not the “eat anything” mentality. I think I would rather starve to death than eat bugs.
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I’m with you. Will not eat bugs. Ever. Ever. Ever. Luckily it was just one episode and I FF’ed through it. 🙂 I couldn’t watch!
I have to see if this show can be seen on Hulu! I hated Survivor because of the “game play” piece of it. Because there was money involved- people decided to build alliances and get people to turn on one another. It happens on The Biggest Loser as well. I hate that part!
I agree with everything you said. I think that we have made a faster, easier more entertaining world with technology- but I fear the cost. We are an obese, lazy nation and I believe we have driven ourselves to ADD. Could I live without my iphone- NO WAY- do I wish it had never been developed? Yes! Can we go back? I don’t think so. Would I want to? YES!!
I really enjoyed this post Lisa!
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GOOD POINT about the iPhone! I LOVE my phone. I could never give it up but I am totally addicted and connected at all times. Sometimes I wish I never got one. I multitask at all times now. When we watch TV I’m playing with my phone. That can’t be healthy…