What is Jungletown about?
In 2008, Jimmy bought 500 acres of tropical rain forest and was going to build a traditional city in paradise. Then the market crashed. Realizing the old model of "if we build it, they will come" was broken, he flipped it to "if they come, they will build it" and has since attracted hundreds of young people through social media who, in the face of potential climate disaster, have come to Kalu Yala to learn a new way to live, as we all must. Also, this place and their story is rife with conflict. First, there's Jimmy himself. He's a businessman and Kalu Yala began as a privately owned real estate venture. I think he's very controversial because his "if they come, they will build it," model means that these interns are paying to be there, and therefore they expect certain things. What they're actually paying for is to be a part of is something very primitive - a return to a kind of living that we're not used to, but many don't think they're getting their money's worth. Some will leave and some will stay. Some will hate Jimmy and others will come to love him, some even end up begging for a job. Then there's the town itself. Accessible from a single, unpaved road full of rocks and mud that snakes through the Panamanian jungle affectionately called "Suicide Hill," it's straight out of "Jurassic Park." Once past that, you must cross a river to access the town, and that river swells when it rains, cutting the town off from anything but emergency helicopters for a day or two at a time. So it's that kind of life that we are capturing...by the seat of our pants. Meanwhile, the local community of San Miguel is wondering about the intent of these gringos who keep driving by and the interns and staff of Kalu Yala are always trying to bridge that gap. But the fact is they are foreigners in that land. Will they take it over? What traditions will be lost? What lessons can be exchanged?