Sara Burkett is a two-time survivalist fighting for redemption on Sunday’s edition of Naked and Afraid. Participants of the show are left in a remote location for 21 days. They must make their own shelter and find their own food. The only thing they have with them is one choice item and a partner, who is chosen for them by producers. This time around, Sara was partnered with Bulent Gurcan, who is also seeking redemption.
The first time Sara appeared on the series, she had to leave the adventure early after she injured her eye while hiking in Panama with her partner, Kate Wentworth. She had a previous injury to that eye and medically tapped out on Day 12. She couldn’t open her eye without pain and it was sensitive to light. A medic for the series told her she had to go home, or she would risk permanent damage to her eye.
This time around, Sara wants to make it the full 21 days. Instead of Panama, she and Bulent will be surviving in Mexico. While she’s ready to go, her biggest challenge might be the same person who’s helping her survive. Previews of Sunday’s episode show Sara and Bulent sparring over eating snails and Bulent saying he’d hate to have a partner that was a millennial who learned about survival through YouTube videos.
To find out more and Sara, her journey and relationship with Bulent, continue reading below for five fast facts:
1. Sara and Bulent Respect Each Other Now
They tolerated each other during the challenge, but Bulent and Sara were able to get past their differences once they went back home. “We have mutual respect for one another and we’re good friends now but in a survival situation, we did not see eye-to-eye on pretty much anything,” Sara told Heavy.com in an exclusive interview. “He saw things differently than I did. There was a lot of friction. We didn’t talk very much so when we did talk it just seemed like we were butting heads.”
Sara hadn’t seen the episode yet, but she wanted to emphasize that there were good moments between herself and Bulent. “People are seeing 45 minutes of over 500 hours. We had our good moments, we laughed, we talked,” she said.
One of the problems was how they communicated with each other. But, also, Sara had a hard time asking for Bulent to help her.
“I can be stubborn and I didn’t want to ask for help on certain things. For instance, collecting firewood. I did it pretty much all by myself the entire time and I finally was so tired I broke down and asked for his help. When he obliged, I realized he was not completely my enemy,” she said with a laugh, “and he did want to help me.”
2. They Have Different Approaches When It Comes to Survival
Aside from having different backgrounds, Sara and Bulent also have different approaches when it comes to survival. Sara is constantly on the go and trying to get as much done as possible, while it’s more important for Bulent to remain calm and relaxed under extreme circumstances.
“Like I said, we grew up in two different worlds and we see things completely different. I’m more proactive and he’s more laid back,” Sara explained.
“I do like Bulent. He is not a lazy person,” she said. “He is not a bad person and neither am I. It’s just the situation we were in was very stressful and people will butt heads. I constantly want to move and he wanted to conserve energy, which I totally understand.”
3. One of the Biggest Points of Contention Was the Fire
While Sara was out during the day collecting firewood, she wanted Bulent to keep their fire going. When that didn’t happen, it caused a point of contention.
“I had a big thing about our fire,” she told Heavy.com. “I wanted to keep it going. I did not want to have to restart it. I would leave during the day and then come back and my fire would be almost out. That would be upsetting to me.”
That type of dynamic hampered their relationship, with Sara saying the experience would have been easier if she and Bulent had bonded. “My first episode with Kate, we made a bond that Bulent and I never did. I didn’t want to say it was the age difference between us, because it’s not that big, but I just think we come from two different worlds,” she reasoned.
4. What Sara Regrets
If there’s one thing that Sara regrets, it’s that she didn’t try hard enough to work on her relationship with Bulent. “I could have tried to get along better with my partner. My emotions and anxiety get in the way a lot, so I do regret not trying as hard to get along with him,” she said.
Overall, she reasoned it’s easy to look back and say what you should have done better. “I’m pretty pleased with what we did accomplish,” she added.
Since her second experience was different than her first, she was worried about what the reaction would be like to her episode. “I’m very nervous about how I’m going to be portrayed this time. Because in my first episode I come off extremely nice, like a sweet Southern person,” she said. “This time you see my attitude and that worries me a bit.”
5. She’d Do It All Over Again
Sara had to medically tap out in her first episode after Day 12 and she didn’t have the easiest relationship with her partner the second time around, but she would still do it again. In fact, she would come back for a third challenge if it was offered to her.
“Oh my gosh. I would absolutely love to do another one,” she said. “My goal is to be chosen for XL because I know I could do it and it would be the best opportunity ever.”
Coming back to Naked and Afraid the second time around was all about redemption. “I wanted the chance to prove myself. It’s just a thrilling experience. It’s extremely hard, but I wanted that redemption,” she said.
Don’t miss Sara’s episode when Naked and Afraid airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery.
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