Hooray, hooray, Naked And Afraid is on today! Sorry, it was a long weekend. When I heard that the survivalists were headed to Belize, I was jealous because when I think of Belize, I think of beaches. But this is Naked And Afraid, so we’re not soaking up sun and sand, we’re stinking in the swamp. Naked And Afraid is quickly turning my list of “Places I want to visit before I die,” into a list of “Places I will never go, so that I don’t die.”
According to Mr. Ominous-Voice Narrator, here are the playmates we’ll have in Belize:
Mosquitoes (Oh crap, more mosquitoes?!?),
Blood-sucking ticks (Being naked should make it easier to look for ticks, unless the ticks are on your “naked”)
And, much of the country is also flooded due to heavy rainfall.
Let’s meet the players…
Leonard Cassidy “Cass”: 34 years old, married dad of 4 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Currently unemployed, former active-duty soldier and police officer. Survival Skills/Expertise: Hunting, first aid, primitive fire-starting, weaponry
Shannon Thomas: 38 years old, single mom of 2 kids, from Cleveland, Ohio. Yoga teacher, wellness consultant and wilderness skills teacher. Survival Skills/Expertise: Wild edibles and medicinals, plant fibers, tracking
Shannon is a fan of clothes. And she has a hair tie. She is the first N&A contestant I’ve ever seen with a hair tie.
Each survivalist is allowed one survival item. Shannon brought a bad-ass knife, Cass has a magnesium fire starter. I am so glad that they’ve gotten rid of the terrible push-in fire starters that were used unsuccessfully on other episodes.
Prior to the beginning of their journey, each participant is assigned a Primitive Survival Rating (PSR), which measures their skill, experience and mental toughness. Cass scores a 7.2, Shannon scores a 6.9.
It’s so flooded that everything scary is displaced and looking for dry ground. One option, look for a cave. My option, avoid the caves. Scary stuff lives there.
After finding Agave, which Shannon says can be used for making rope (and tequila?), Cass carries an armful along into the unknown.
They discover a huge network of caves… inside, according to our helpful, and frighteningly-voiced narrator live…
Rabid Bats, reptiles and scorpion spiders. The ancient Mayans used to hang out here too. And, they Mayans are all dead, so that didn’t work out too well for them. Just sayin’
Cass makes fire like a champ, and they settle into the mouth of a giant cave.
That night, they see glowing eyes coming from the back of the cave… And don’t get much sleep.
After a sleepless night, where they were ravaged by ticks, they awake tired, thirsty and hungry.
Cass thinks he has ticks in his eyes…and his “Pee hole.”
After scratching tick bites (in Cass’ privates) they head out in search of water.
The water vines that they find are frustratingly empty. So their option is to drink the mineral-rich water dripping in the cave. This water has so many minerals that it can cause kidney stones, but when you’re desperate, mineral-y water= mineral water.
Hunger has set in and Shannon is already super thin. They see a Paca and set their hopes on hunting and killing one of these 30 pound rodents.
“I want to eat that F***ing thing.” Cass
Shannon creates a figure 4 trap to smash food and stuff. It doesn’t work. I’m not surprised.
Cass comes upon a Yellow Jawed Tommygoff, the most dangerous snake in S. America. This animal is aggressive with an excruciating bite that can kill in 72 hours. Sadly, but thankfully, Cass misses this poisonous meal.
Then Cass starts throwing rocks at howler monkeys. The monkeys start throwing branches back. The monkeys have better aim.
Still hungry, Shannon is getting weaker and weaker.
And it is pouring rain…
It is still raining and Shannon and Cass can’t risk going out to look for food or face hypothermia.
Still raining and Cass and Shannon are still hungry. Shannon is all ribs and bugbites.
Cass and Shannon are so desperate for food that they scavenge in the caves (which is a terrible idea) They ignore tracks the size of a child’s hand, and all they find are bats and shards of Mayan pottery.
Shannon and Cass are so hungry that they’re making mental and physical mistakes. Cass has worn through all of his physical reserves, but Shannon has enough energy to head out in search of food and finds two snails. Cass refuses his snail, saying that Shannon needs the food more than he does. He is either a total gentleman, of hates escargot. Suddenly, Shannon has an woven skirt and top. If you can weave clothes, why not weave yourselves a blanket or two? Unbaweavable!
Cass has so little energy that he is simply lying around the cave. Shannon, who is thinner than a Hollywood starlet, also lacks the energy to do much.
Shannon breaks down in tears and is utterly despondent. Her distress might be the catalyst to revive Cass’ spirit. Cass, “I don’t have any energy. this is the last trek I’m going on.” A giant boa is heaven sent in their “Garden of not-eatin” Yay for snakes! Nature’s greatest and most stupid food source!!! Cass whacks the snake and brings it triumphantly back to Shannon, who might have wept with gratitude and relief if she had the energy to cry. After much feasting and festivities, a rainbow comes out.
Cass and Shannon have to trek through the complex of caves to their extraction point. Caves= limestone labyrinth. Hmm, a labyrinth? One with Davie Bowie? ‘Cause, you know, he was in Labyrinth, with some Muppets.
They make it through the caves and once up a cliff, they are rescued and survive.
At the end of the ordeal, Shannon says, “Cass was far more motivated by my needs than his own.” To a former military man like Cass, there is no greater praise than those words.
The physical toll on Shannon is shocking: in 21 days she lost 20 pounds and went from a lean, fit woman, to a walking skeleton. Cass lost 21 pounds, which is a lot less than I would have guessed.
Cass’ PSR increased to 7.4 and Shannon’s PSR increased to 7.1.
The best thing about this episode was the camaraderie of this team. They both had moments of absolute desperation, destitution and depression, but also triumphant moments of determination. Yes, that’s a lot of words with the letter D, that’s what I was going for. Duh.
This was the quickest-feeling episode of Naked and Afraid I’ve ever seen. Perhaps this episode seemed quick because the drama was mental — the anguish that Cass and Shannon felt was much different than the physical challenges that other survivalists have faced. I’m not sure which I would find more difficult, the mental torture of hunger that Cass and Shannon faced, or some of the more outwardly physical torture that other twosomes have faced. And in no way am I belittling their starvation as anything less than a physical toll that I would be unable to bear, but is starvation worse than thousands of mosquito bites, or an intestinal parasite, or huddling in freezing rain and gale-force winds or a machete chop to the shin?
What do you think?
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