In the jungle

Or: I am actually not supposed to talk about this, but..

The Gold Coast tires me. Sue me! I can’t stand beaches! I find them extremely tiresome. And all the hippies that they attract. Seriously, I don’t know why anyone would want to come to Southport especially (sorry Southport-ians), and Surfers Paradise might as well be called STDs Paradise. It’s all about nakedness, it feels dodgy and lacks sophistication. The shops open late and close early so everyone can bust a surf out, because that’s the only thing to do here. Everyone wears flip flops and bikinis all day, and the heat makes me too lethargic to do anything. Yes, I hate the Gold Coast!! – there, that’s my rant for today.

By now, I am also extremely annoyed by my flatmates, who don’t seem to understand that my “room” doesn’t have a door and it might bother me when someone puts their music on blast in the middle of the night. I am weird like that. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day and all.

The once smokin Brazilian is now just annoying me with his hippy-ness (no, I don’t really think your plastic Buddha candleholder makes for an ace decoration) and his weird “morning sickness” – he wakes up with a cold every day smelling like a dying dog – is making me sick to my stomach.

I have started to hide my toilet paper from my roomate, who I am sharing a bathroom with, because he never buys any himself. Also, because every damn night he wakes me up with his snoring and abnormally loud farting. And I’m pretty sure he’s been using my butter, too. I have never used it to butter bread, so where the hell are all the bread crumbs in there come from, huh? HUH??

But I keep all this to myself and silently plan their murders.. uh, I mean, silently count the days until I can leave this hellhole.

The only reason why I am still here at this point is because I am waiting to hear back from a German reality TV show that I have auditioned for and that is being filmed close to Southport. Now don’t get too excited, I won’t be on TV – I and 10 other lucky bastards would just be stand-ins mainly to test camera angles right before the actual show starts.

What made them choose me, I will never know, because as a person I am pretty boring, but on New Year’s Eve I get the call that I made it. I am gonna be part of a once on a lifetime experience.

The show is called “Ich bin ein Star, holt mich hier raus!” (I’m a celebrity, get me out of here) and is pretty popular in Germany and England, especially. If you know it, well then you know what’s about to come. If not, this is the show: 11 more or less “celebrities” move into the jungle not far from the Gold Coast (I signed a contract that I am not to reveal the exact location). There, they have to live for two weeks (three in England) and do all kind of disgusting trials (we’re talking cockroaches, spiders and snakes here. Some of which you have to eat – alive) to earn their food. Daily provided is only a small portion of rice and soy beans (70g each per person). Other activities are treasure hunts to earn extra goodies and lots of fireside talks about their lives and problems. You’re in the middle of the jungle, there really isn’t much to do. Technology isn’t allowed, besides the cameras that film you 24 hours a day.

On our first day, we have a wardrobe fitting. Everyone gets their own set of jungle clothing, complete with your own name on everything, which I thoroughly enjoy (I love my name. Good job, mother). We have several briefings with the producers and the infamous Dr. Bob before the TV people pay for our dinner. Everyone gets their own hotel room before we’re going to the jungle early the next morning. I finally for the first time in a long time I don’t have to smell any farts but my own. TV life is good.

I get up at quarter to 5 the next morning and enjoy the last shower I am gonna have in the next three days. All clad in our jungle outfits, we’re being driven as close to the location as possible, in a completely shaded van, to keep the appearance up that all of this is somehow top secret. We have to hike through the jungle to find our campsite (as it will turn out three days later, the TV people are punking us and making us walk in a circle around the camp to make it seem further in the jungle than it actually is). A 10 minute walk turns into 45 minutes because we stop every few meters to give interviews. The producers are highly interested in the sweat that is running down the middle of our boobs.

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I am definitely no egomaniac.

Finally reaching the camp, we start exploring. We’re not allowed to leave the campsite at all for the production of our little pre-show (which we never got to see), but they have set up a pool (a tiny lake), a shower (a waterfall) and a toilet (an outhouse), which is protected by potato sacks.

Just when I am crouching down to check out the first aid kid, not suspecting any evil, “God’s” voice sounds for the first time. “Silvana!” it says. I start. “Please come to the Junglephone.” Great. I have to do a trial. I know it. My campmates look at me with pitty in their eyes as I walk towards my fate. Turns out, they just call me in for an interview, to ask all kinds of weird questions about the smell of the jungle and stuff. Phew. Dodged a bullet there.

Not half an hour later, as I am feeling save again, I get called in a second time. I rejoiced too soon. Of course my gut feeling was right and I am the first person to go to a trial.

What it is? I may get in trouble if I talk too much, but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. It was smelly, and wet, and involved loads of creepy crawlies (if you have watched the German show, it was the very first trial the celebs had to take). But I mastered it as well as I could, and not even refused to eat a fermented egg – protein, bitches. I got my team 8 out of 11 stars that day. Which meant crocodile feet for dinner. And even though people think I am disgusting, I am proud of my accomplishment.

If you aren’t doing a trial, or a treasure hunt, the jungle is almost as boring as Southport. It’s a lot of hanging around in terrible humidity, and you would never believe how adamant 11 people can argue about the preparation of rice and beans. Sometimes, if you’re really quiet (quite a lot), you can hear the cameramen in the artificial rocks around us talking, sneezing, and even listening to music.

Our past time activities include coal face-painting and twister made out of differently colored leaves. Because life in the jungle is so boring, the TV people try to stir up trouble. I become the pubes-bitch. I made the mistake of shaving off some hairs on my legs pretty close to my crotch (I was definitely not spreading my legs in front of a camera and shaving my 5cm long pubes, mind you, as the made it sound like). But the damage is done, and from now on people keep complaining about having to swim in the pubic hair pool.

Then, one night, we face the dangers of the jungle. Many people believe it’s just a TV set – which it is, but a TV set in the freaking jungle. Funnel-web spiders! If you don’t know, they are so venomous that they can actually kill you. But according to Dr. Bob, they can’t climb (what kind of spider are you..) so I am feeling save in my hammock and let the security guys take care of them. But, when they don’t find one of the two, they just shrug and go to bed. Well, we’re nobodies, after all. No one is gonna miss us.

On the morning of the fourth day, “God” wakes us up to let us know we’re to leave the camp soon. I feel relieved. As much as I wanted to come here, as much I am now happy that the experience is over. It was good, I met a lot of great people, I got to take a look behind the scenes (and in the future will watch the show with completely different eyes) and did things I never thought I’d do. But enough is enough. I am craving a real shower, and most of all sugar. I have a new-found respect for the people who manage to live here for two weeks. Where I used to laugh at their foolishness, I now admire their strength. The jungle can and will drive you insane. So, have a heart for the poor souls just trying to make a quick buck.

The upside is, we get to have breakfast from a huge buffet with the crew and the actual show hosts. Once again people compliment me on my eating skills (I knew I had some kind of talent as well).

The jungle has brought many new opportunities. Everything is planned out: I and one of the girls I befriended there would go on a short road trip, followed by a cheap trip to Fraser Island, organized by another dude that was in the jungle with us, before I would finally get back on a bus and do what I’ve been looking forward to for 2 months: Go back to Sydney! On top of that, I have already secured an apartment in Sydney, because this time I am planning to stay. I intend to keep my promise I have made to someone.. but more on that next time, kids.

It would be perfect. Or so I thought. But if everything sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It most likely is. It definitely is.

After pretty much telling my flatmates to go fuck themselves, I’m out biatches!, the girl leaves me hanging for a couple guys. The dude explains that he has to work and Fraser is falling through as well. I am left stranded.

But for every fucktard I know, I have a person in my life that I can truly and genuinely call a friend. So David, who I’ve known over the internet for quite a while (Tomb Raider can bring people together) and who happens to live only a stone-throw away, offers me the luxury of staying at his air-conditioned house playing video games until my bus leaves 5 days later (thanks for everything, mate).

And so endeth the lesson: Never trust so-called backpackers, and never come to the Gold Coast again!

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