Goliad County native sets record on TV survival show
April 1, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.
A Goliad County woman who appeared on the Discovery Channel's TV show "Naked and Afraid" was the first to ever make it through a 21-day survival challenge alone.
"I was motivated by personal pride, I was motivated by wanting my friends and family to be proud of me when I came home, and I also wanted to set an example for women and represent the state of Texas," said Alana Barfield.
Barfield, 35, and her partner, Keith Busch, 46, of Seattle, Wash., were dropped off at a remote Fijian island with no food, no water and no clothes.
The show documents the strangers' struggle for basic necessities. Unlike other reality TV shows, at the end of each hourlong episode, no one wins or is handed a cash prize.
The Discovery Channel pays participants an appearance fee regardless of how long they last on the challenge.
"They pay your expenses while you're gone. You don't really have a check to look forward to, but you're not going to come home to debt either," Barfield said Tuesday.
Barfield found Busch disoriented the morning of day 11. He told her he thought he had a seizure, so producers flew him to a hospital on the mainland, and he did not return.
In the episode, which premiered Sunday, Busch exerts a lot of energy early during their stay on the island by chopping down a coconut tree to find water. It proves to be a fruitless effort, literally.
By day eight, he was exhausted and ready to throw in the towel, which is when Barfield said she began mentally preparing herself to go solo.
When Busch left, certain nighttime noises were amplified and played tricks on her mind, such as a rock formation falling nearby. Their shelter was still intact though, and they had stored more than enough rain water in coconut shells and bamboo cuts to avoid dehydration. Barfield's diet consisted of coconuts, snails, crabs and termites.
"I knew going into it that I was going to have to utilize every resource available to me, and I would have to put squeamishness behind me," she said, adding she was disappointed so much air time was devoted to her squabbles with Busch rather than her struggle alone.
"I was just waiting for that day 21 to come. In the meantime, it was almost just a relaxing vacation with terrible catering," Barfield added.
Barfield, who is a makeup artist living in Houston, knew from watching the first season of the show that a woman had lasted 18 days in an exotic location without a partner before quitting.
Barfield was at a crossroads in life when she decided to appear on the show. Isolated and without everyday luxuries, she realized pursuing a degree in emergency and disaster management needed to be a priority in her life.
She wants to help people in crisis on a large scale by working for a municipality or non-profit such as the Red Cross.
"This will show my tenacity and my willingness to finish something I start, even if it's physically difficult," Barfield said of adding the experience to her resume.
Barfield asked producers why they didn't attract more participants by adding a cash prize, too.
"I was like, 'Is there a lot of people who want to do this?' ... They said the people who are in it for money are not the kind of people they wanted," Barfield said in a previous interview.
Barfield graduated from Goliad High School in 1999. Her family lives between Fannin and Schroeder.
She would appear on the show again if given the chance.
"I'm always down for a new experience, a new chance to learn," Barfield said. "I am forever changed."