|Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am|
On the evening of their ninth day, Survivor's third castaway was voted off the island. As a fierce tropical storm unleashed rain, lightning and raging winds on Pulau Tiga, Stacey Stillman, the San Francisco litigation attorney, who goes by the nickname "Boom Boom", was told that it was time for her to go.
"It was a hard decision to make," said Susan Hawk, the 38-year old Wisconsin truck driver who has become Tagi tribe's matriarch. "But you do what you gotta do, and I think we voted in the best interest of the tribe."
Stacey had struggled in her first six days of island living, angering her fellow tribe members with adversarial opinions and a habit of rolling her eyes. Tagi tribe also felt Stacey wasn't contributing enough to the tribe's well-being, and not working as hard as they would have liked. Stacey attributed that early opinion to her innate shyness, which can make her appear aloof. She had hoped to turn that around. "I'm really very sweet. If this was Gilligan's Island, I would be Mary Anne," Stacey noted in her first week on the island. "I hope the others can see that I'm nicer than I let on."
Accordingly, Stacey had changed in the last three days. She'd not only been more open and approachable, but something of a hard worker. She was even responsible for her tribe's winning the bug-eating immunity challenge. In fact, in the days leading up to the third Tribal Council, her work ethic compared with hard-charging Susan's.
The storm put a symbolic end to a honeymoon period for the castaways. After a difficult immersion into island living, both Pagong and Tagi tribe had begun talking about how much they enjoyed Pulau Tiga. They rhapsodized about the beautiful beaches, purple-and-orange sunsets, and the simple joy of being without phones, email, or a job to report to daily. Even Pulau Tiga's stifling heat and humidity had become tolerable as their bodies adjusted.
Pagong Beach HousePagong, the MTV Beach House of Pulau Tiga, even began acting like it was all a vacation. They fished very little, and worked even less on improving their shelter. In fact, they did little but lay in the sun, spend hours playing games, and talk about sex and island politics.
And that's fine with them.
"I'm stranded on an island in the South China Sea," noted Greg Buis of Pagong. "It doesn't get any better than this."
Object of Greg's attractionGreg has attracted the attention of Colleen Haskell, the demure bookstore employee from Miami. The pair often swim in the snake-infested ocean together, and slip into the jungle alone at night.
However, the rice supply each tribe enjoyed during their first week on the island was dwindling. Both tribes were on the verge of joining the snakes in the consumption of rats to sustain themselves. When the In From The Deep Reward Challenge was announced, it loomed as the ideal chance for one tribe finally to spear some fish; for the reward was none other than a mask, snorkel, fins, and a fishing spear.
The losing tribe, of course, would be without those accouterments....
Susan helps carry the treasure chest in from the deepHeld on the Sand Spit, an S-shaped island just off the coast of Tagi Beach, In From the Deep asked each tribe to swim to a buoy one-hundred yards offshore. Once the entire tribe arrived at the buoy, they would dive down to the sandy ocean floor, a depth of ten feet. A treasure chest would be waiting. The first tribe to drag their treasure chest to shore would be the winner.
Gervase of Pagong was apprehensive as the Challenge was announced. He only recently learned to swim. "I can do it," he said as his tribe rallied around him. "I'm not gonna let you guys down."
And though Gervase performed admirably, Tagi was a team of aquatic athletes. Richard is an experienced skin diver, Rudy spent his life in the water as a Navy SEAL, and Kelly makes her living as a river guide. They reached the buoy ahead of Pagong, then quickly dragged their chest back to shore to claim their booty. "This afternoon," crowed a triumphant Richard, "I'm gonna catch us some fish."
And he did.
Pagong, on the other hand, experts at catching rats (Greg about his rat trap invention), finally learned firsthand the taste of roast rat. In fact, it wasn't long before the Malaysian field rat became the delicacy of their choice.
The constant fear in castaway life, now that they've come to enjoy the solitude, is Tribal Council. The forum for voting off castaways is a danger they'd like to avoid at all costs. Hence, the courageous behavior of Jenna for Day Nine's Rescue Mission Immunity Challenge.
Tagi tribe rescues Kelly, but loses the challengeRescue Mission involved each tribe "rescuing" a tribe member from the jungle. Each tribe dashed from the rocky beach near Pulau Tiga's northern tip, into the rattan-and-vine-covered expanse. That section of the island is also home to Pulau Tiga's Reticulated Python population, meaning that in addition to avoiding the sharp barbs of rattan branches, they must be on guard against 30-foot, 300-pound snake attack.
Once rescued, the "injured" castaway would be loaded on a stretcher and carried to a first aid station back at the beah. First tribe back would win immunity.
Due to a night spent sick, Jenna was to be Pagong's stranded castaway. Kelly would play that part for Tagi. However, Jenna declared that she was a better athlete than Colleen, and that Colleen should be rescued.
Which is why, weak and nauseous, Jenna toed the starting line while Colleen dangled by carabiners from a jungle tree alongside Kelly.
In the end, Pagong won Rescue Mission by a small margin, and faced the long hike to Tribal Council.
Tagi was soaking wet as the final votes were announced at Tribal Council. Stacey was shocked to be voted off. When told it was "time for her to go," Stacey's pained response was "go where?"
Well, back to civilization. Which was probably easier than her former tribe member's destination. Despite the torrential rain and lightning, they had to walk the two miles back to their beach at midnight.
How devastating are Pulau Tiga's tropical storms? Think Biblical proportions. Three to five inches of rain fall in less than two hours. Waves claw huge chunks of sand from the beaches, forming plateaus on the otherwise-level sand. Lightning and thunder strike the island with all the ferocity of a dynamite explosion. And finally, because the island's soil is sandy throughout, massive trees are often felled by the raging winds.
In fact, the storm striking Pulau Tiga the night Stacey was voted off also claimed another casualty: the 200-foot tall banyan tree in whose shade the Buggin Out challenge was held three days before. All that was left of the banyan post-tropical storm was a stump.
Kelly and Susan form friendshipSeveral outspoken castaways have clammed up in recent days, realizing that loudmouths often get voted off. Tagi tribe's Rudy, who received three votes at the first Tribal Council, has seemingly taken a vow of silence. Richard hasn't stopped pontificating, but has gotten more diplomatic. And Kelly's blunt pronouncements have ceased. She only speaks candidly to Susan, and only when the other castaways are out of earshot.
Gervase, Joel, RamonaOver at Pagong, the strategy has been to maintain a low profile, but make friends. Gervase brags that Joel and he are buddies, and that Ramona is his friend, too. "I know those people will never vote against me," he crows. With Pagong down to seven members, that's almost a guarantee of longevity for Gerv.
The Pagong women are banding together, too. Jenna, Colleen, and Gretchen are forming a loose voting block. They claim they're not rigging the votes, but their friendship means three more people enjoying the sensation of island safety.
Which leaves onlyâ€¦ Greg. But he's safe too. "Greg is easily the most popular person in the tribe," says Gretchen, who thinks Greg reminds her of her 13-year-old son. "The guys aren't threatened by him, and the women love his sense of humor."