Tourism advertisements really do get ridiculous sometimes. I had to laugh when recently I read that a certain recording studio/eco-cabin spot in Portland, Jamaica was being described as situated in a “remote jungle.”
What! This place is literally one minute’s drive off the main road. I suppose if one closed one’s eyes, one could imagine being in a jungle, with tree frogs piping loudly. The blast of a horn from a truck speeding down the road or the sounds of a soca party from a nearby beach might quickly shatter that illusion, however.
I have heard that this is a lovely place if you can afford it – but why do people get carried away with these blurbs? Travel ads can be flights of fancy or even of sheer fantasy. This may be why I enjoy virtual traveling, browsing through online travel pages. If one never actually goes there, the illusion remains intact.
This description was echoed by a tweet from two young celebrities, who were actually at the resort. These delightful young ladies shared:
Went to Jamaica for 10 days to refresh our minds, bodies x spirits. we swam in beautiful waters, basked in God’s creations x made some music in the middle of the jungle.
Jungle?! Jungle! Really? The tweet sparked laughter, confusion and some consternation among the Jamaican tweeting community. Does Jamaica have jungle? Is San San, dotted with sprawling, and in some cases moldering villas, really “in the middle of the jungle”?
Some Jamaicans appeared quite offended by the term. Words, apparently, matter. The word “jungle” suggests something wild, impenetrable, uncivilized. The jungle is a place to be avoided (except, perhaps, to David Attenborough, who would relish it).
It has a kind of old colonial feel about it, too. If one finds oneself in a jungle, at any moment a “native” might appear, wielding a spear; or one might be forced to fight with a marauding leopard. You get the gist. Shades of Rudyard Kipling, or scantily-clad Tarzan swinging through on a vine.
Although Jamaicans love the tall green trees of east Portland, with their hanging screens of creepers, I think most would prefer to call it forest, or rainforest, which sounds nicely exotic. Or better still, just plain “bush.”
This little Twitter frisson reminded me, too, of a politician who had been reading Stephen Covey, some years ago. Do you remember? During his time as Minister of Transport and Works, I believe, Minister Robert Pickersgill once quoted Mr. Covey’s excellent story about a “wrong jungle.” I honestly cannot pin down the context in which he was speaking, but this was at least ten years ago. Stephen Covey’s story goes something like this:
Have you ever climbed the corporate ladder and found it was leaning against the wrong wall?
Imagine a crew clearing a path through the jungle. The workers are hacking away with their machetes, while the managers are making schedules and encouraging the machete wielders.
The leader climbs the tallest tree, looks around and hollers down to the crew below, “Wrong jungle!”
The managers yell back, “Shut up! We’re making progress!”
This little fable is all about pressing ahead even when you have made a bad decision. And Lord knows, politicians and technocrats know all about that. Some would say they are past masters at it. How relevant Mr. Covey’s wisdom still seems to be.
Meanwhile, poor Mr. Pickersgill was never allowed to shake off the phrase, which became permanently attached to him and was thrown up time and again in newspaper columns (and by opposing politicians and other critics). In fact, it sometimes became his two middle names, when people wanted to be unkind.
Perhaps it would have been better if the good Minister had just said “wrong bush.” Be that as it may, it seems that we need to ditch the word “jungle.” It just isn’t working for us.