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Saturday, May 25 2019 @ 11:51 AM UTC

SA Survivors eaten alive in Panama

Entertainment Survivor South Africa got under the skin of its contestants - quite literally. From day one of shooting the show on Panama's Pearl Islands, the players faced adversaries who weren't in the running for the grand prize: flesh-eating bugs. Worst of all were the sand flies and mosquitoes, which bit them mercilessly and left them covered in welts. And at least one of the contestants came home with a souvenir of the experience, courtesy of the sand flies: eggs laid under his skin, that hatched about a week after he returned. The insects were among several factors that led to the abrupt departure of Don Soper, the oldest contestant and the first to leave the show. 'I think I was semi-concussed and delirious' Soper, 54, says the mental and physical pressures of being on the Pearl Islands, as well as a nasty encounter with the sand flies that laid eggs under his skin, eventually sealed his fate. Sleep deprivation, a knock on the head and unbearable weather are just a few of the harsh realities viewers don't get to see on Survivor SA and what led Soper to think he was a contestant on the Joe Schmo Show, a reality game show where an unknowing contestant competes with paid actors. (more...)

Within hours of starting Survivor SA, Soper and the rest of the Aguila tribe became a living feeding ground for the sand fly and other creepy crawlies.

As more than 1,2 million viewers last Sunday saw Soper quickly elevate himself to "most likely to be voted off" last week's episode, the Joburg businessman explains that there was much more to his lacklustre attitude on the show than met the eye. "The heat, sand flies and mosquitoes and all the rain every night. There were many factors and it was extreme. "I had prepared myself for what it would be like. But the humidity and heat was more than I had expected. "That was my first woe. I think we were thrown in at the deep end and I was just unprepared," he said this week.

Now comfortably back in the swing of his normal life, Soper revealed this week that after a week of unexplained lethargy, he discovered the sand flies' "nursery" under his skin. "After I got back I was constantly feeling tired. The following weekend the eggs hatched and they started coming out of my body. I couldn't scratch because then it leaves scars," he said.

Soper said his laidback attitude at tribal council was also partly due to having slipped on a rock and hitting his head. "I think I was semi-concussed and delirious. I just couldn't sleep. Mentally it drove me mad. I became totally paranoid and there were times when I thought my memory would go. "Because you have no real idea of what time it is, eventually you start having this state of heightened emotion. "The mental stress is incredible. It's a very stressful environment," Soper said.


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