February 21, 2012

How could you be lost in the Cozumel jungle for 19 days?

I love the TV show "I Shouldn't Be Alive," but the new episode, which has a man wandering into the jungle on Cozumel and unable to bumble his way out of it for 19 days was just ridiculous. The show inserted aerial views of the jungle, with voiceover narration intended to make it seem really scary, but Cozumel is an island. It's 30 miles north-south and 9.9 miles east-west. The shots were framed to exclude the shoreline which encircled the area where he was lost.

The man knew he was on an island, and he could see the sun. Pick a direction, preferably east or west, and — even if you can only cover a mile a day — you'll get to the shore (or a road) within 5 days or so. What was really going on here? He seemed like a nice person. In the end, he said what he'd learned was to be kinder to people. But I'm not inclined to be kind to the TV hacks who wrote the script making his story into an "I Shouldn't Be Alive" as if it's the terrible jungle of Cozumel that should have killed him. It was incomprehensible stupidity/insanity that nearly got him.

41 comments:

edutcher said...

You don't need to be smart to go on vacation.

As the First Couple keeps reminding us.

WV "VITALIS" Haven't heard that since the Beatles arrived.

john said...

There are millions of people who are just as lost and unfortunately they won't be found after 19 days. The weird thing is that they haven't left their TV rooms.

Sayyid said...

Sometimes the title of that show is an evolutionary assessment, not a probabilistic assessment.

Cf. the one about the hunters in the mountains of some former-SSR that got stuck in a blizzard because they didn't want to wait another day in the camp. The US army (training mission) and some locals in a beat up old soviet chopper came at the same time to rescue them. They picked the beat up old chopper because it would be faster, and it crashed. Then they were stranded again until the US army by chance stumbled across them again.

jimbino said...

Most folks do not know how to follow a straight line in a forest that has a canopy that obscures the sun. They end up walking in a circle!

One way is to follow a river or stream. I don't know about Cozumel, but it's well known that the Yucutan forest is bereft of rivers and streams.

Methadras said...

Darwin 0, Cozumel Tard 1.

karrde said...

WTF?

I agree, Ann, he should have found the shore (by going east or west), and then followed it around.

I looked at a map of Cozumel Island. (It is a few miles off the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico.) The island has a road that runs across the middle, and an airport on one side with an associated town.

Human settlements, especially ones with electricity, tend to have lights that are visible. Even if the city is over the horizon, it will usually have a faint glow in the sky.

And airports tend to have lights on their grounds...and airplanes arriving on a semi-regular basis.

Either the guy was not lost, or he is clueless.

LordSomber said...

Kinder to people?

Gilligan's kindness did him no favours.

Curious George said...

Just change the name of the show to "Too Stupid to be Allowed to Live".

John Cunningham said...

One should never underestimate the ignorance and stupidity of city boobs loose in the woods. check out www.equipped.org for some good discussions of lost people and their blunders.

traditionalguy said...

Is this where cartoons and computer simulations show us what is not really there at all but seems terribly scary?

That is the AlGore film makers art that originally came from Walt Disney.

Orion said...

People get SCARED in the woods.

When I was in Army ROTC Basic Camp, we had land nav training in a triangle of woodland a mile on a side. You could hear the highways bounding each leg of the triangle no matter where you were and could usually see one. If not, walking 100m would almost always get you to a road or trail that led somewhere.

Yet the city kids were TERRIFIED they were going to get 'lost in the woods' and die. They seriously thought they were at great risk of death and when pressed had NO idea what to do to rescue themselves.

The unfamilier breeds terror - which breeds stupidity.

Orion

Synova said...

It's really easy to get turned around and really hard to see where the sun is if you're under a canopy *and* as soon as you get a little dehydrated you get stupid.

bagoh20 said...

"It was incomprehensible stupidity/insanity that nearly got him. "

That's often the direct or indirect cause of the predicament on these shows. With modern technology and the ubiquity of humans, stupidity is almost necessary for getting lost.

Roger J. said...

I have been to cozumel 6 times--I usually snorkel on the channel side but go bonefishing on the northside--the northside is the rio de la plata--all mangroves and tidal estuary--the island is transected by a highway--if you go east you hit the caribbean; if you go west you find the yucatan channel--the side of the island where people live is on the south side. Its damn near impossible to get lost if you know the geography

Kit said...

I've never heard of this show and, just now, took a look at a couple trailers on their site. Normally, this would be something I might want to watch...thing is the OH is off on a sixty-plus day (mostly) solo hike this summer. His outdoor skills, tracking device and rescue insurance offer some comfort - watching this, will not.

Ann Althouse said...

"Most folks do not know how to follow a straight line in a forest that has a canopy that obscures the sun. They end up walking in a circle!"

My problem is with the show and its script. The issue of the distance and the shoreline and the sun should have been discussed. That's my point. Instead, they kept up suspense by making us think the jungle was endless until in the last couple minutes -- lo and behold -- he walked out onto a beach.

We had an hour of the man's thoughts as he was lost, and there was never any discussion that he knew he was on a small island and the sun could be used -- or attempted to be used -- to track a straight line that would have to reach the shore.

Instead we got him wondering if he'd be there forever, etc. etc. That was bullshit that played the audience, and I'm mad that they got my attention that way.

I should have paused and looked up a map of Cozumel, which was never shown.

Roger J. said...

Professor--its a relatively small island and quite easy to navigate if tourists were to take your advice

Cozumel has been ravaged by hurricanes but is still a great destination.

Ann Althouse said...

@Kit The show is a low-budget knock-off of the movie "Touching the Void." Watch that movie. It's amazing!

DADvocate said...

For comparison, the Smokey Mountain National Park is 2,108 KM square, Coqumel is 647.33 KM square. He must have been completely unprepared and done everything wrong. I always carry a knife and a cigarette lighter minimum when going into the woods. I bet he did the old walk in circles thing, common for lost people.

Amartel said...

Dehydration can really mess up your powers of reasoning, among other things. Especially problematic if you're not that bright to begin with.

Roger J. said...

horisiKnow the geography, and carry a compass--and trust your compass--it doesnt lie

Werehawk said...

Par the course for this sort of show as far as sheer fakery is concerned. Looks like there's another show that I'll add to my do not watch list for sheer fakery.

I refuse to watch Man vs Wild after watching the episode they filmed in Guatemala which was so clearly faked to anyone who has lived in the country and knows it's geography.

There is no way way it is physically possible to climb down a volcano go into a limestone cave system and end up in a set of Mayan ruins in 48 hours particularly if bears in mind that the location for all three are more than likely a hundred miles northward from for Pacaya volcano where the show started, Alta Verapaz/Baja Verapaz where the cave's most likely location is and Tikal a further 150 odd miles further north...

Steve Koch said...

I saw that episode. The guy never found a water source the whole time he was lost. He would drink nasty water out of little puddles or off of leaves. It is amazing that he did not die. It took him 6 months to recover.

He was lost but still on the trail and his friends could hear him yelling. He decided to go off the trail to go directly toward the sound of their shouting. It is very common for lost people to do really stupid stuff.

He got out when he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary pointing the direction out of the jungle.

Freeman Hunt said...

I've driven all the way around the edge of Cozumel. It didn't take very long. I have no idea how you could be lost for 19 days on that island.

bwebster said...

I've _been_ to Cozumel. It's not that big of an island (10 miles wide at the widest point, about 30 miles long). Pick one direction, keep heading in that direction, and you'll either hit the ocean or a road, probably within a day or two at most.

Rusty said...

The really sad thing is that he was found and will reproduce.
Probably a democrat.

Leon said...

this level of fakery from our press is par for the coarse. just last week we were hearing all about how the florida everglades had imported snakes eating all the cute furry critters. this week we hear that two australasians have trained dogs to find the snakes. they were very effective at getting out snakes big enough that normally a pet store wouldn't sell you one like that because it is their best marketing tool. if it was for sale it would be hundreds of dollars. so what we have here is a problem that solving will make you tremendously wealthy. now that study took years and training those dogs took time too, so why the rush to print a sensational story about the loss of cute bunnies. fakery

Revenant said...

Instead we got him wondering if he'd be there forever, etc. etc.

Ok, I've never voluntarily watched reality TV in my life, so maybe I'm missing something -- but doesn't the premise of the show remove any possible suspense about whether or not the guy would make it out of the woods?

Kohath said...

Even though they really enjoyed their business trips to Cozumel to create the show, the reality TV production crew expressed disappointment that their story wasn't quite believable enough to (completely) fool a gullible Obama voter.

Michael said...

The "jungles" of coastal Quintana Roo can be more like horrible thickets of dense brush that are pathless. If you are fat, or out of shape or stupid it is very rough going. Not 19 days hard, but very hard and probably requiring a good bit of crawling or forcing your way forward. I have walked a lot of property along the mainland coast and can attest to the fact that going a few hundred yards through that shit is hard work and going in a straight line would be absolutely impossible.

Steve Koch said...

Revenant,

Right you are. Plus the name of the show tells you that the person survived.

I don't think anybody mentioned that the guy lost his mind early on in the ordeal so rational thought went out the door. He was not in touch with reality, let alone capable of a sustained logical campaign to escape the jungle. I wonder if he went crazy so fast because he ate one of those poisonous frogs.

Partridge said...

Sounds like the show "Man vs. Wild" in which Bear Grylls (how's that for a name?) pretends to be lost just so he can show us how to live in whatever environment he's chosen. Of course he's never too far from the road, and he always at least has the camera man with him. He too does things like devour frogs without cooking them. It's all very strange in my opinion. If you're lost in the wilderness your best bet is to stay hydrated and is probably not to make yourself sick eating raw frogs.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

How could you be lost in the Cozumel jungle for 19 days?

Step 1: Start with an 18 day supply of Tequila...

Rusty said...

chemboadMichael he was on a freakin island. Half of which ISN'T jungle.
Walk, crawl, limp to a beach, now Make a right turn. Or left. Keep walking till some one says,'hi'.

William said...

If Whitney Houston could drown in a bathtub, he could get lost for nineteen days on a small island.

Michael said...

Rusty. He was in the " jungle" part of the island. This "jungle" is not tall trees with monkeys and paths. I can promise that it could be done but it would be harder than you imagine. Google Map Cozumel and have a look at the end of the island that is not inhabited. Why is it not inhabited or developed? Mangrove swamp and what is known as "iron shore". There are no beaches that can be strolled for miles. It woul not be possible to walk around the end if the island by water's edge.

M said...

Coz has a road the completely encircles the island. Another road bisects the island thru the middle. There is bars/restaurants on the south end and on the windward side. The north end has the military base. The "jungle" on the south of Coz is more of a scub/desert, not a canopy. Been there 6+ times and I don't believe any of this

Michael said...

M. There is no road that circles the island. You are mistaken.

LorenaC said...

Ha Ha, just saw this episode for the first time this morning. Still finishing it, and getting chuckle after chuckle from the over dramatized, ridiculous statements.

I cant believe His friend Kathy spent THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS to launch a full scale search and rescue party (on day 3) I'm assuming some locals had quite a large fiesta, while waiting for the moron to wander out or just die on his own.

As pointed out, the island is approximately 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. My family and I did volunteer work there, and recently spent a total of 16 months over a four year period, living a couple miles outside of the "tourist" area, along side the locals. There are just a couple 'remote' pockets on the island, defined as a 2 or 3 square mile area, lacking any concession stands, or corner stores. While the lack of tacos and beer in these areas can be scary, you would have to be a complete moron to be "lost" and "stuck" in a 2 to 3 mile area. That, or you would have to have a complete "brain fart", or be on some good drugs to stay in the scrub jungle for 19 days.

Poster "Sayyid" and poster "Curious George", your comments are just priceless.

This show is a complete crock. All the over dramatized statements and never showing a diagram of Cozumel and revealing how small it is really was misleading. I can barely see getting lost overnight, 19 days is the most ridiculous thing i ever heard of.

Andrew Ryan said...

Thanks for posting this Ann and letting me know I'm not the only one who feels like they were robbed of an hour of their life watching this BS!

I also usually like this show, and truth be told I only watched this episode because I was curious to know how anyone can get lost on that island (I went there a few years ago so know it reasonably well).

I don't mind a bit of exaggeration from time to time, but this episode was just pure, unadulterated, shameless drivel. Some of the shots showed towering cliffs above lush tropical rainforest; Cozumel's highest point is barely 15 metres above sea-level, and its vegetation isn't lush rainforest but tropical savanna. No matter where he was, by climbing a tree he should have been able to see the lights of the (only) town on the island, as well as of departing cruise ships and planes landing and taking off.

A was so pissed off I waited for the end of the credits to see if they were honest enough to let on where it was filmed; they were: Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, a genuinely rugged, lush and unforgiving place. I want my money back.

Jim said...

The narrator stated 'A thousand square kilometres of jungle'....that's pretty amazing, being as the island of Cozumel is only half that size in area!