"Big Trek, Big Trouble, Big Surprise: Days
1-3" - September 15
DAY 1: SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
REWARD CHALLENGE: NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Welcome to Guatemala in Central America. To be exact, welcome to the Mayan city of Quatan in the northern part of the country. The Mayans were a highly civilized people who could keep time as good as any Timex could...thousands of years before watches were even invented. Then the whole civilization vanished...though how is uncertain.
Now, a mess of Americans are hoping NOT to vanish as they take part in the eleventh
version of Survivor. The one that makes it through the 39 days will get - you guessed it - one MMMMMILLION dollars!
Unlike more recent incarnations, the 16 Survivors have already been divided into two tribes. They are Nakum
(yellow) and Yaxha (blue), two names for the natural monument they enter in. I shall look after the Yaxha Tribe, who consist of:
Amy O'Hara, 39, police sarge from Revere, MA
Brian Corridan, 22, Ivy League grad from New York City
Brianna Varela, 21, retail sale and make-up artist from Edmonds, WA
Gary Hogeboom, 46, ex-NFL QB and now real estate developer from Grand Haven, RI
Jamie Newton, water ski instructor from North Hollywood, CA
Lydia Morales, 42, fishmonger (whatever THAT is) from Lakewood, WA
Morgan McDevitt, waitress and magician's asst. from Decatur, IL
Rafe Judkins, 22, wilderness guide from Providence, RI
We meet up with our host, Uncle Jeff Probst, in the shadow of a large Mayan pyramid. We are informed that our camps await us with pots and tools that the native Mayans used to survive.
We ALSO have one OTHER tool each...and Uncle Jeff calls the "tools" down from the pyramid.
HOLY @#$%! It's Stephenie LaGrossa and Bobby Jon Drinkard! They were the last two survivors of the thoroughly thrashed Ulong Tribe of Survivor: Palau!
They're pulling a "Rupert", coming back for a second chance at the million! Bobby Jon's going to be the Nakum "elder" while Steph comes to Yaxha. YES! WE GET THE ONE WHO OUTLASTED TWO KORORS!
Now, Uncle Jeff says that, since they've been THROUGH something like this before, they'll be invaluable to the tribes. But since most of us know that Ulong FAILED to get anything going...that's not too comforting. We're also reminded that Bobby Jon and Steph are FULL-FLEDGED members of the tribes...which mean they can be voted out if the tribes want.
And guess what? It's time for our first Reward Challenge! And the Reward...is the better camp! It is an 11-mile race through the jungles. We have to dodge snakes, crocs, other poisonious animals and dehydration to make it to the better camp, another natural Mayan ruin. Whichever tribe reaches the ruins first gets to stay there...AND gets flint for fire. We'll know we're close when we see our tribal canoes. We get aimed in different directions and are told that we have a mess of food and water awaiting us as well as a map...and we must decide what to take and what to leave on this marathon.
Aaaaaaaaannnnd we're off!
Around the pyramid we run and we get to our supplies. After gathering a buch of fruits and water - and expounding on how Steph's Palau experienced made some of the girls send in THEIR audition tape - we start our hike.
It's quite the LONG hike...and we're trailing. Gary seems to be leading us through the brush...which makes Rafe feel that Gary'll be first off. Nobody seems to know that Gary's an ex-NFL QB and, when asked, he says he's a landscaper. If they every learned his last name...well, MAYBE the guys will recognize the name. No need to know he was a muscle-head during the 80s.
NIGHT 1: ...AND THIS IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME!
And, sure enough, we start getting lost. What's more, it's getting dark rather fast. Steph takes the lead as the sun sets. After a while, it's totally dark and the tribe decides to stop for the night. This does NOT sit well with Steph. She wants to get up as soon as possible tomorrow...and she definitely does NOT want to start off her second Survivor with a bunch of Ulongs (aka LOSERS)!
good news is that Nakum is also stopping for the night...and their boys are getting dehydrated in a hurry.
DAY 2: THE RACE FOR HOME
When they look into their eyes, Yaxha sees the sunrise...and hears the howler monkeys in the trees. Amy thought that the Predator was through with the Aliens and were after her. Brian gets the tribe motivated to go...albeit in a cranky mood. So off we go...and whom do we run into but a travelling Nakum tribe! Well,...at least we're headed in the right direction.
Both tribes find the road
in our instructions and start to jog down it as the rain starts to fall. It turned into a foot race down the road...but Lydia and Amy were lagging behind with the tribal flag. Because of this, we lose sight of Nakum.
Bobby Jon's dehydration didn't help us too much; when we finally reached the canoe, Nakum was a fair ways out on the lake. We had to paddle the canoe across the lake to the ruins. Considering that WE thought we were WAY behind, this SHOCKED us and boosted our morale tenfold. We quickly got into our canoe and stroked!
Ah, the pier! And Yahxa's at it...and Judd suffers from "premature evacuation" and is stuck in the mud! This is our chance! STROKE... STROKE... STROKE... (where's Billy Squier music when you NEED it!)
But...Yaxha pulls Judd out... they manage to get Bobby Jon, cramps and all, out of the boat... and, as we dock our canoe, we hear the screams. Steph's tribe has lost...AGAIN!!! DAMMIT!!!
That means that Mean Uncle
Jeff gives us a NEW map to a NEW camp... and we head back to the canoe. Steph is bummed...but, at the same time, she felt we did our best regardless.
AFTERNOON 2: ANYWHERE YOU HANG YOUR TRIBAL FLAG...
All the way across the lake we find our own camp, along with the pots and tools...but, of course, no way to make fire without a LOT of effort. And, without water to drink, a lot of effort is one thing we cannot afford to use.
Immediately, the tribe works on the shelter. Steph is happy for being on a tribe (at last) with as much determination as her. We have a lot of spirit... and we're fully functional...unlike Nakum, who is literring their ruins with vomit and dehydrated men..
DAY 3 - IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: THE ANSWER IS FORTY-TWO...
Welcome...you got...Pot-Mail, I guess. And it's on an oar and reads as follows:
Your first two days were grueling
But now is no time to rest.
You’ve come too far to lose it now.
This will put you to the test.
You’ll be competing like the Maya.
This is more than just a game.
Fail to pull your weight today,
And be the first to lose your flame.
To Challenge Beach the 18 Survivors go. A Mayan statuette becomes our Immunity Idol for this go-round. And Uncle Jeff explains the customary "c'mon, baby, light your fire" Immunity Challenge. Each tribe will row their canoe out to a buoy and get a torch. We row back and then move the boat up a hill like the Mayans used to. Four will pull a rope attached to the canoe, four others will push and use logs as rollers, moving the logs from back to front. As soon as the canoe crosses a finish line, the ninth tribe member lights the torch and uses it to light a cauldron. First tribe to light the cauldron gets to stick around for three days. AND...if Yaxha wins, we get a flint!
Let's get to Uncle Jeff's mantra: "Survivors, ready....GO!"
It's a tight race out in the lake. The paddling is fast and furious. But it's Yaxha who reaches the buoy and grabs the torch first. Nakum is having a hard time getting around the buoy and grabbing the torch. They almost collide, but the race back is almost as even as the race to, with Yaxha having a SLIGHT lead.
The tribes hit the beach
at just about the same time, but Nakum gets their canoe attached to the rope before Yaxha and send their water-deprived boys up to pull the rope. We said Jamie, Gary, Brian and Rafe to the top while the others minus Lydia do the logs. Suddenly, we hear an "OWWW! MY FOOT!" Steph's foot is caught under a log. This allows Nakum to pull ahead. Once the foot is free, however, Yaxha picks up the pace and pulls even.
Then Nakum starts to falter. Their girls and guy just can't seem to lift the logs right or get a rythym going. Cindy's foot gets caught under a log and that helps Yaxha pull FURTHER ahead. But Nakum seems to bridge the gap as well...though...not enough. We cross the finish line first and Lydia lights the cauldron. YAXHA WINS IMMUNITY! YAXHA GETS FLINT!
More importantly, STEPHENIE WINS IMMUNITY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 12 IMMUNITY CHALLENGES!!
TRIBAL COUNCIL: THE SHOULDER GETS GRINDSTONED
As we drink up and bask in our victory (and Steph's confidence shoots to 11), Nakum votes out "old man" Jim by unanimous decision after he tears his bicep in the challenge. Maybe THIS time, it'll be MY tribe who only has to visit Uncle Jeff's North Acropolis Pyramid O' Doom ONCE before the merge!
(Yes, Chico, my man...it is ON!)