The date was set and, with the location still unknown, I began my prep. Each to their own I say but the thing that works for me is eliminating all things from my diet that I won’t get out there while eating large amounts of meats and good fats. This means at least 6 weeks of no sugar, no coffee and no processed foods. A lot of what people first experience out there that they label “dehydration” or “low blood sugar” is in fact detoxing from these substances. I always feel like there is enough going on out there without me having to be dealing with detoxing, so I get it out of the way when I have access to loads of water and good food to combat it.
A few weeks out, I received my briefing email. My location was set. I was heading to the Amazon! For the tail end of the wet season. At first my heart sank… Swamps and the Amazon are notoriously the hardest Naked and Afraid locations for many reasons but mainly because of the insects! Anyone who has watched either of my previous episodes would know that I have faced the worst of the worst with my insect challenges. Louisiana was relentless with its giant mosquitos that felt like hot needles sinking into your flesh as they fed and then the Bahamas was brutal with its unique mix of sand fleas and mosquitos that fed all night and into the days. The Amazon has some of the most painful ants in the world, as well as fuzzy caterpillars that can deliver such a painful reaction that it can cause a heart attack, disease carrying ticks, scorpions in the leaf litter and of course, a billion mosquitos.
I also knew that in the wet season, the jungle would be cold enough to need a fire but dry wood would be impossible to find and all the animals that focus on certain routes and watering holes in the dry, could roam far and wide in the wet season making hunting extremely difficult. So food and warmth would be my biggest challenges and water and shelter-building materials would be most abundant. I felt like this would be the adventure of my life.
For those of you who don’t know how the process works, you are asked to name 4 survival items that you would like for a challenge and then production chooses 1 for you usually to make sure that both people don’t have the same item out there. I was told that I would get three items. For me there was no choice in the matter. I would need a pot as the water in the Amazon is full of bacteria that destroy western stomachs and I wouldn’t find a good water carrying or purifying vessel that would make a good substitute out there. I would need my machete as the 4 inch blade that Billy brought into Louisiana meant we had to work a lot harder to get shelter building materials and I needed a tool that saved me burning more calories than I needed to out there. It was also a great weapon should I need it. And my final item was a fire starter. It is only in very rare cases can wet wood work for a friction fire and the wood in the Amazon would be saturated from the Wet Season. Also the search and experimentation with foreign woods would take time and energy that I knew I couldn’t afford to spare being out there alone.
All my items were designed to conserve calories and make sure that my essential needs could be met. So fire, water and shelter building was sorted and food would be up to my wits, after all technically you can last 21 days without it (hence the length of the challenge).
Although the odds were stacked against me with such an extreme environment, I also felt quite at ease with the Amazon having spent 3 separate trips there over the years and exploring it in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. I felt so at home in this jungle that a certain peace came over me at the thought of spending time out there alone. For all its dangers, it was the perfect place for me to take this challenge. I was ready.