This week we’re heading back to Panama. Naked and Afraid headed here in Season 1 —remember how Clint burned his man-parts? — but this time we’re heading to Isla San Jose.
And the drama of the episode precedes insertion: while on a pre-production meeting, the production crew is attacked by a swarm of Africanized bees. After the fully-dressed crew was stung hundreds of times (and nearly killed by the venom) how are the naked survivalists going to fare?
Let’s find out!
Current Residence: Hartsel, Colorado
Relationship Status: Married
Tara says her survival skills include: Land Navigation, Water Sourcing/Purification, Bow Drill Fire, Plant & Rock Identification, Shelter
I love that Tara Calls herself “Mountain Mama” and admire the homesteading/off-the grid lifestyle that she and her family have adopted. She seems like she’s spent her entire life in preparation for an adventure like this, with real world experience, and familiarity with survival in multiple environments. She also says that she’s goal oriented, having a plan for each day with a series of small tasks should make survival manageable.
In her free time, Tara enjoys backpacking, hiking in the mountains, snowshoeing, learning local history and geology, and just spending as much time outside as possible.
Tara seems like a wildlife expert on many fronts, with an outdoors-related college degree and through a variety of jobs and experiences like outdoor guiding, wilderness/survival therapy field, working for the National Forest Service, wilderness survival training, solo long distance backpacking trips and hiking numerous mountain peaks.
Tara’s initial PSR: 6.8 out of 10.0
Current Residence: Grand Island, Nebraska
Dustin lists his survival skills as: Hunting, Trapping, Primitive Tool making, Endurance, Small Game Processing, Basic First Aid Skills
This Cornhusker seems like he’s got a sick sense of humor, you’d have to be willing to laugh at yourself if you list your relationship status as “(Depressingly) Single” in your discovery.com bio.
But, since Dustin’s photo also includes one of the world’s most adorable puppies, this guy may not be single for long.
Dustin’s bio also reveals that this former Army vet grew up with a love of the outdoors, which was fueled by his outdoorsy father. The self-professed “gun-nut” furthered his expertise in the U.S. Army and then as a prepper. He views “Zombie” as an allegory for unprepared people, and he’s further honed his survival expertise in preparation for a catastrophic societal collapse. Hopefully he won’t have to fend off his partner once she start trying to snack on his sweet, meaty brains.
Here’s my question at the onset: How is specs-wearing Dustin going to survive without his glasses?
Dustin quote: “I’m going to make nature my bitch.” (We’ve heard that before)
Dustin’s initial PSR: 6.1 out of 10.0
Dustin says he’s a relaxed person, with a Laissez-faire attitude. Tara is a “Ma’am with a plan.” I smell conflict!
Survival items: In addition to a shared machete for the duo, Dustin brought a cooking pot, and Tara brought a bow drill.
Let’s take a look at the host of critters waiting to welcome this week’s survivalists. Isla San Jose is home to
Lots and lots of biting bugs including chitras
And, of course, Africanized bees
Tara decides to call her partner by his last name, “Hobbs.” Does that make her Calvin?
Dustin thinks now that he’s unconnected from everyday life; he thinks his biggest obstacle is going to be boredom. Clearly, Dustin’s never seen this show before, because most often on Naked and Afraid, the biggest obstacle is going to be something small.
Dustin: “Nature, she’s a bitch”
Tara: “I like to think of nature as my friend”
They’ve only been outside for a few hours, but already, Tara’s covered in chitras. They’re basically in the same family as sand fleas, chiggers and no-see-ums. Basically, they suck.
Before they lay down for the night, we see via night-vision camera, that Tara unknowingly lay down on a bunch of giant cockroaches. Not just large ones, but GIANT!
Dustin and Tara spend the night huddled on a rock in the middle of the stream watching the bats fly around. Hopefully, Cockroaches can’t swim. (The folks at ask.com claim that roaches can swim and even more terrifyingly, can hold their breaths for 45 minutes!) gross!!!!!
The next morning, Tara asks her partner to check her butt crack for ticks. Yuck.
Their first order of business this morning is building some sort of sleeping platform and get off of the bug-infested ground. Their first attempt fails comically, but Tara and Dustin try again and they finally get a raised bed.
Their next order of business is building a fire. Or at least, Tara builds a fire while Dustin takes a nap. Once Dustin has had his beauty rest, he lends a hand, but they are unable to make fire.
The hard work has made the duo thirsty, so Dustin drinks water straight from the stream, and against her better judgment, so does Tara.
That night, although they’re off the ground, Tara still catches a giant roach crawling across her bosom. I think she flings it away, which is too bad, because by Day 6, that’ll be a tasty meal.
While on a walk, Tara and “Hobbs” find the fruit of the spiky, black palm trees. It doesn’t look tasty, but it is edible.
When they get back to camp, Tara’s chitra bites are starting to swell and they look nearly as big as the cockroaches. She is in such agony that she wants to rip her skin off.
They are still without fire, so getting something that can keep away the bugs takes on a desperate air. Tara turns her bow drill into T-handles to share the burden of fire-building. And once they get an ember, Tara calmly walks her partner through fire-making. She’s a great teacher.
Once they have fire, Dustin heads out on a hunt. He builds a few snares, but doesn’t have a well thought-out plan.
Before sunset, Hobbs noticed a few bees near their camp; storied of the production crew’s experience is still fresh and they’re worried about the threat of bees.
Dustin heads out on a walkabout, but really, he’s looking to escape his partner who’s constantly busy.
Tara’s busy building a shrimp basket, Dustin’s sitting on a rock.
Hobbs is failing as a hunter, but he’s letting that sense of failure shape his experience. He’s moping like a child.
While Tara is off hunting for shrimp, Hobbs lets the fire go out. Tara breaks down and calls her partner “A dud.” She says he’s “The worst partner I could have ever had.”
Once Hobbs is vertical, she tells him that he needs to be more involved in their survival, “we need each other out here.” He apologizes for being selfish, and vows to get his head in the game.
They’re easily able to rebuild their fire, and hopefully this moment sparks a little fire within Dustin.
Part of Tara’s plan is to try to find food every day. And on Day 14, she finally catches a shrimp. That’s right, one shrimp. But it’s a start. “I’m stuffed,” laughs Tara. That night, the chitras stuff themselves with Tara’s tastiness.
The next morning, her body is covered with thousands of bites and it looks like she’s having a pretty bad reaction. At what point does her body go haywire? Dustin helps her cover herself with a paint-relieving mud made from ash. Are there any plants she can use to soothe the pain?
Dustin heads out on another hunt. He finds a massive termite nest. They knock the nest out of the tree and make “Jungle oatmeal” by boiling the termites and larva in water. It’s a nutritious — but gross-sounding — meal that their bodies desperately need.
The meal has helped Tara’s bites heal. It’s amazing what a little protein can do!
Holy moly, Tara’s looking especially gaunt this morning! And once again, Dustin’s traps are empty. But when Dustin sees something slithering through the grass, he springs into action. It’s a boa! With once big chop, Dustin kills the slithery beast! Dustin’s confidence soars with his successful hunt. Grilled snake isn’t the world’s tastiest meal, but it’s food. And will serve them well in the days ahead.
Just before they leave on their extraction hike, a bee stings Dustin. Oh no, flee the bee! They worry that the bee’s sting has released pheromones that will attract other bees. Thankfully, none come. The hike includes other stingy things, like black palm spikes. Many, many spikes. Another part of Tara and Dustin’s extraction hike is a walk across a croc-infested stream. And once they reach the ocean, they have to wade out to a waiting boat.
Once they’re on the boat, Dustin says he’s found a new appreciation for life’s luxuries and is humbled that he didn’t dominate nature like he thought.
Tara’s proud of her mental strength and that she was able to stay true to herself and her game plan of working hard, and working constantly the entire 21 days.
Over the course of 21 days, Dustin lost 25 lbs., and because of his weak start, his initial PSR of 6.1 didn’t change.
Tara lost 16lbs. from her slim frame. She was a tireless worker and saw her PSR rise from 6.8 to 7.6 out of 10.0.
What did you think of this episode? I think Tara was a trooper, and I’m glad that she was able to get through to Dustin and coax him out of his mental funk. Other than the dramatic bug bites that Tara experienced, it was a pretty tame three weeks, (a point with which I’m sure Tara and Dustin will strongly disagree.) But I will admit that after seeing the unfathomable amount of bites that Tara suffered, I’m incredibly itchy.
Other Naked and Afraid Episodes
Recap: Naked and Afraid: “The Darkest Hour” Season 5, Episode 3
Recap: Naked and Afraid: “Fear the Unknown” Season 5, Episode 2
Recap: Naked and Afraid Season 5 Premiere “Foresaken”
Preview Clip from Naked and Afraid Season 5 premiere
Casting Director reveals how to get on Naked and Afraid
Naked and Afraid casting secrets
Naked and Afraid XL reunion “Dirty Dozen Returns”
All images © Discovery Communications