|Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am|
In a case of "too little, too late," New Jersey chemist Ramona Gray was voted off Pulau Tiga tonight. Ramona, beset by sickness, fatigue, and dehydration during her first week on Pulau Tiga, finally recovered and became a vital member of the tribe. This was particularly timely because her tribe needed to relocate the shelter after it got pummeled in the storm. The sickness had created an emotional distance between her and her fellow castaways, however. Ramona was unable to overcome that distance to stave off the fatal ejection vote.
"I came here not knowing what to expect," Ramona noted afterward. "I learned that I could survive in this totally demanding environment. And, I mean, this is a tough place. If I could make it here, I feel I can go back to the real world and survive almost anything."
The vote against Ramona was a trying one for the Pagong tribe. The group had bonded into a warm family unit in their twelve days on the island. "You do what you have to do," Jenna noted. "Because that's all part of the game. But that doesn't make it easy.
Gervase seconded the notion. "I'll miss her. Ramona overcame a lot of adversity during her time on the island, and showed how strong she could be."
Ramona's loss leaves Pagong with just six members: Joel, Gervase, Jenna, Greg
Ramona's problems began even before she got to Pulau Tiga. As Pagong paddled their bamboo raft ashore after being marooned, the withering tropical heat and humidity got the best of Ramona. She leapt into the ocean to cool off, only to swallow several mouthfuls of salt water. Ramona began vomiting immediately.
Even after Pagong made it ashore, the insidious nature of dehydration challenged Ramona. Exhaustion, lethargy, lack of appetite, and inability to drink water kept her flat on her back for almost seven days. She finally recovered and tried to work her way back into the fabric of Pagong life. But as Jenna noted during the Tribal Council vote: "It was too little, too late."
The "Buried Treasure" Immunity Challenge foreshadowed Ramona's fate. The combination relay race/treasure hunt required only six competitors from each tribe. For Tagi, that was no problem, for their membership hovered at precisely six on Day Twelve of castaway life.
Pagong, however, had seven members. One member would have to sit out the challenge. Ramona, a martial arts black belt, was easily more physically fit than skinny Colleen or even Jenna. But those early days of illness meant Pagong had long-ago learned to do without Ramona's participation. As Colleen swam, Greg balanced atop a floating bridge, then rowed with Joel, then passed off to Gervase for his run through the jungle as Gretchen and Jenna began digging for treasure, Ramona sat in the broiling sun. She could only watch as Tagi won immunity with Rudy's mad dash to the finish.
"When I didn't compete, I had a pretty good idea I was going to be the next to go," Ramona said later that night.
And she was.
Rudy has seen plenty of glory in his life. The distinguished veteran of 45 years in the Navy was the highest ranking noncommissioned officer in military Special Forces during the last decade of his career. However, Rudy's most public moment of glory had to be the finale of the Buried Treasure Immunity Challenge.
Rudy carrying the chestAfter Rudy and Richard dug six feet down in the sand to locate the 40-pound chest, the 72-year old Rudy lifted it into his beefy arms and sprinted down the beach to the finish line, ensuring victory for the Tagi tribe. He ran like a man half his age. "Yeah," he said later, gasping for breath and flashing a rare smile. "That felt pretty good. I wouldn't mind doing that again."
All the castaways are hungry, and serious weight loss has begun. And while Ramona was disappointed at being voted off, within moments of the verdict she was talking about eating a real meal. "Ohâ€¦ you name it. I want fried chicken. I want a Caesar Salad. I want everything. I'm starving and I can't wait to eat." Playing the Partâ€¦.
The castaways are all in a rush to become indispensable, and the easiest way to do that is assume a vital tribal role: Soccer mom Gretchen has become Pagong's mother hen and moral center. Navy SEAL Rudy has become Tagi's cook. Richard fishes hours every day - usually with great success - and leads group discussion. Sean is the comedian. Sue is Tagi's matriarch. Joel seeks to be the leader. Greg is the group eccentric. And Gervase is the card player who's ready to be everyone's best friend.
When Tagi learned Dirk Been was a Christian, their greatest fear was that he would be confrontational about his faith. Much to their surprise, Dirk has quietly gone about his tribal existence, only discussing God when asked. "I feel it's my duty as a Christian to spread the Gospel, but I don't think it's right to shove it in people's faces," Dirk says honestly.