Humility: That's the key to exotic travel. So say the stars of 'Jungle Gold,' the Discovery Channel's hit show about two real estate guys from Utah who lost it all in the financial swoon of 2008 and have been trying to get it back by mining for gold in Africa.
The partners, 36-year-old Scott Lomu and 29-year-old George Wright, return on Sunday, August 11, with another season chronicling their adventures. They started visiting Ghana in late 2009 and were mining in anonymity until early last year, when Lomu's brother sent a treatment to the production company behind 'Gold Rush,' the network's other mining show – against Lomu's wishes.
"I said, 'You idiot, what the hell did you do that for?' My wife laughed her butt off."
But the partners, who have big families to support (Lomu has four kids; Wright has three), decided to go for it. Their show debuted last October, averaging an impressive 2.65 million viewers per episode.
They knew nothing about Africa when they began researching gold mining, but by the time the cameras arrived, they'd learned plenty of valuable lessons. "In Ghana, they like Americans, but at the same time, they despise foreigners who don't respect the laws and traditions," Lomu tells 'Men's Journal.' "We tried to learn as much of the language as possible. When someone comes to America, you want them to learn frickin' English, right?"
The partners taught themselves key phrases in Twi, the local language, and soon found that the Ghanaians would "melt like butter" when they used them. "You learn the customs as fast as you can and apply them," says Lomu.
When it comes to supplies, says Wright, one rule of thumb they've adopted: Triple it. "If you think you need X amount of food? Triple it. If you think you need X amount of water? Triple it."
And with regard to the land: Respect your environment. "West Africa has a lot of poisonous snakes," says Wright. "We've had a couple of close encounters with green mambas."
More important for their continued well-being in the country: They take care to leave the land they're mining in a condition that will restore it to the way they found it. "We make sure we reclaim everything, so that the jungle is on a direct path to look exactly how it did before we came," says Wright. That way, they can hope to hear three of their favorite words from their Ghanaian acquaintances: "Mεhu wo ckyena."
See you tomorrow.