This week we’re heading to an area home to some of the world’s most beautiful vacation spots. But when you take away air conditioning, beaches and drinks with little umbrellas, Belize is basically a bug-infested hell. But for two daring adventurers, they’re picking up a fun passport stamp but without any of the fun that normally goes along with a trip to Belize. Let’s meet our couple.
Age: 30 years old
Occupation: Athletic Trainer
Current Residence: Bellingham, Washington
Relationship Status: Married
Survival Skills: Fishing, Shelter Building
Kacie grew up part of a family who turned into a competitive sport — one challenge was to see who could pack the lightest bag and support themselves off the land with food, water, and shelter. Kacie is also an avid endurance athlete, plays every sport and owns a CrossFit gym with her husband. Kacie explains that she can push beyond physical pain. In 2012, she also inline skated across the United States in world record time. Basically Kacie is a badass. But she’s afraid of snakes and basically every wild animal.
Age: 37 years old
Occupation: Stay-at-Home Dad, Business Development Strategist, Writer and Outdoor Guide, Full-time student
Current Residence: Orlando, Florida
Survival Skills: Making Fire, Sourcing Water and Food, Shelter Building
Aaron is a third-generation Floridian, who learned survival skills and an appreciation at an early age as a member of the UMCA-sponsored Indian Guides.
Aaron is a stay-at-home dad to his young son (and has been known to forage berries and wild edibles to make baby food) and encourages self-reliance, confidence and a deep respect for nature. He also works as a business development consultant and a published writer and photographer. He also serves as a guide where he teaches troubled youths and adults. Aron seems like a giant teddy-bear. And he looks like Nick Offerman’s character, Ron Swanson, on Parks and Recreation.
Kacie’s Initial PSR: 4.8 out of 10.0
Aaron’s Initial PSR: 6.6 out of 10.0
Belize is home to the usual Naked and Afraid perils — jaguars, boar, snakes — and something even grosser, the human botfly. I initially though the narrator said “Butt-fly,” which is essentially true; the bug’s larvae burrow under the skin of people and lives there. And you can feel it. And I’m barfing.
We know that our survivalists won’t have a stitch of clothing, but they won’t be tackling Belize empty-handed. The production has given them a fire-starter, Kacie has brought a mosquito net and Aaron a machete. I like a mosquito net in theory, but I have yet to see one on Naked and Afraid keep anyone bite-free. Bugs can wiggle through any crack and crevice, and these shelters have lots of those. But as we’ve seen on this show before, it’s the second, third and fourth uses for an item that counts.
First impressions: Kacie has amazing hair, and Aaron says “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” when he gets excited. Once they find a nice area to camp, they start to build a shelter off of the ground. There are too many snakes to risk sleeping on the ground. Before long, they have a nice platform with a basic roof. That night, while they goof-around with their homemade nightlight (A lightning bug in a piece of mosquito net) they feel thunderous crash outside their camp. A nearby tree has smashed to the ground.
The next morning, they discover that the sound from the night was a nearby tree breaking. No matter where they camp, Kacie and Aaron know that a tree can crash down on them at any moment. But if you’re gonna get squashed by a falling tree, at least death will be quick.
Aaron and Kacie take a major risk by drinking unfiltered water straight from the stream, but Aaron is confident that the water is moving enough to be parasite-free. (I stand corrected — they filtered the water through their satchels, which basically only filters out fish and leaves.)
That night, a monkey pees on them from above. Ugh, golden showers are my least favorite showers.
Kacie wants fire. She’s not leaving the fire pit until she unleashes a raging inferno! Mighty Kacie’s mega muscles scare the tinder into igniting. Now that they have fire, they need food. They take their bug net to the stream for a little fishing. They’re using an interesting technique — instead of putting the net near the bottom of the stream and waiting for wish to congregate and quickly pulling it up, they’re pulling the net down and closed and then flipping the net over. It’s unconventional but it works! Their bounty is over a dozen little minnow-sized fish.
And then Aaron turns into a jungle gourmet and wraps some of the minnows in the leaves of an allspice plant and uses the cute parcel as a steamer. The result is much tastier than Kacie’s fish that she just skewered and barbecued.
After they’ve eaten their fish lunch, Aaron is successful again! His eagle eyes spy a fleur de lance snake. Aaron’s not scared of snakes; he’s from Snake Country USA. “I don’t want to find a family of snakes,” says Kacie. But their catch is only a little guy, so Aaron doesn’t see the point of preparing and cooking it because the calories won’t outweigh the effort. “I try to work smart not hard,” explains Aaron. But they still may use the catch as bait.
They hit a home run again and find an old piece of fabric left by a past archeological expedition. They use the windfall to protect their sensitive bits from biting bugs and Kacie fashions a loincloth for her partner.
While scavenging, they find a heart of palm. It’s too large to chop down in one fell swoop, but Kacie hacks at it for a while.
Kacie heads back to the palm tree and is determined to get at it’s tasty heart. But the days is so hot that after a few minutes, she’s exhausted.
Aaron says that he’s heard bees and like Winnie the Pooh, he craves honey. He finds the hive high in the tree and scampers up, prepared to plunder the golden booty. But once he sticks his mitt in the hive, he finds it empty. The only upside is the bees weren’t the kind that sting.
That night, a storm rolls in and before long, they’re sitting in torrential downpour. The wind howls around them and causes even more trees to fall. I wonder if Kacie and Aaron would prefer the thunder shower to the monkey shower? The wind and rain are so fierce that they scurry under the shelter, but the wind still pounds the rain through both layers of the shelter — the roof and their former platform. And all the while falling trees crash around them.
The next morning, there is debris everywhere and they spend the day cleaning up the camp and rebuilding their shelter. Aaron is bummed out that the shelter that he build wasn’t more water resistant. It’s okay bro — like you said, work on a shelter is never done.
More monkey tinkle. And the monkey is throwing berries at Aaron ad Kacie too. Stupid monkey.
Kacie is still undeterred in her attempts to get the heart of palm. She has no quit in her. She pulls down a massive bough in fierce heat. Her partner spends the heat of the day in the cool watering hole. That night, they’re eaten by bugs.
Aaron has a Botfly larvae under his skin and can feel the botfly moving under his skin. I am so nauseous watching him squeeze his skin that I have to look away. That night — more rain and they spend the night under their shelter again.
Rain, Rain, Go Away!!
Aaron emerges from under the shelter. He’s exhausted, covered with bites and scratches, and wants to go home. It’s never a good sign when a Naked and Afraid participant starts crying for their family members. When you’re in a survival situation, you have to stay mentally strong and can’t focus on all that you’ve left behind.
Happily, Aaron seems to have regrouped mentally. But they haven’t had anything to eat. And that Heart of Palm still calls its siren song. And by working together, they finally chop the tree down. Kacie never gave up on that food source, and she was finally able to defeat her food nemesis. Seriously, she doesn’t have an ounce of fat quit in her entire body. And they feast on the heart of palm, which looks a lot larger than what I put on my salads.
Their extraction hike requires them to bushwhack through the snake-filled jungle. They’ve prepared for their hike to fashioning shoes using wood from the palm tree. They’ve also used their bug net as socks and as gaiters over the shoe apparatus. “This is what my nightmares look like,” says Kacie as they trek through dense vegetation. When they emerge along a river, they are overjoyed to see their rescue boat and leave Belize triumphant.
But they don’t leave alone…when Aaron returns to Florida, he has to have the fly larva removed from his groin area. Barf.
Over the course of 21 days, Aaron lost 25 pounds, and his PSR rose from 6.6 to 7.4 out of 10.0. I think this is pretty fair.
Over her three weeks in Belize, Kacie lost 14 pounds from her muscular frame. Her strong mental strength helped her PSR rise from 4.8 to 6.4 out of 10.0. Personally, I thought she should have seen a greater increase; she was mentally stoic, and a physical stud too.
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