Survivor Guatemala:
The Maya Empire
Xhakum Tribe
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Today is February 2, 2006

"Thunder Storms & Sacrifice/Reunion: Days 37-39" - December 11

It's 4-3-2-1 time for Survivor: Guatemala! Four members of Xhakum left, three days left to strategize, two Immunity Challenges and Tribal Councils to endure...and ONE MILLION DOLLARS at the end! Will Stephenie avenge her loss in Palau? Can Rafe pull a "Chris from Vanuatu" and beat the ladies? Can Danni show some spunk enough to make the final touchdown? Can Lydia show the grit and determination to beat 'em all? Let's find out...NOW!


Though it's certain that EVERYONE is happy to be in the Final Four, Lydia seems to be the happiest. She feels that SOMEONE up there likes her, despite her initial thoughts of being the odd one out. Danni compares HER appearance to her beloved Kansas Jayhawks making the Final Four of NCAA Basketball and blowing it. Rafe is glad to be among the final combatants. Steph...well, I'm sure you know HER stance.

You've got Tree Mail:

Thirty-seven days living among over 2000 years of ruins. These ancestral grounds are still considered sacred, still temples, still altars; As you will soon see, the spirit and the culture of the Maya is still alive today...and you are now a part of this history. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Appreciate it.

Lydia comes running up with it, screaming like it was another car or something. It's a BIT of a let-down to the others. It seems that Lydia is the ONLY one really excited about this. She's thinking some Mayans were going to join them, just as the natives of OTHER cultures have touch OTHER Survivor tribes.


Well, Lydia was right. Out of the jungle comes a family of Mayans with baskets and boxes of...well, stuff. There is also incense burning. Since none of the Mayans spoke English, they went right to work. They created a ring of sugar and herbs and honey (which Steph was a LITTLE upset about them wasting) in front of the large pyramid and started a ritual of praying.

Then...came the chicken. As in a LIVE chicken, people. As the fire in the ring started to blaze, the family took the chicken, ripped its head off and tossed said head into the fire! The rest of the body was tossed in as well...and, though Rafe says he got a lot out of it, the only thing that nearly got out of ME was my dinner!

Speaking of dinner, after the "sacrifice" came a meal of tamales and herbal water. Lydia is loving this, being of Hispanic heritage herself. But all STEPH could wonder is if they could chomp on the char-broiled chicken still stoking in the fire. But the Mayans say they will do no such thing as the fowl was an offering to the Mayan gods in thanks to the earth, sky and ancestors.


OK, enough of the chicken-worship. Time for the first Immunity Challenge of the episode. Uncle Jeff welcomes us and Steph surrenders the Necklace (huh...the only time she's ever worn it and it's just for a day...yeah, THAT'S fair!). The most complex maze in Survivor history has been created in the shape of the "Seven Macaw", a large Mayan bird deity. On the count of "go", the Survivors will race into the maze and collect eight puzzle pieces from six stations. Once a piece (or pieces) is (or are) collected from a station, they must get to the center of the maze, cross a pontoon bridge, climb a steep ladder and place it in their basket before crossing a rope bridge and going DOWN a ladder to re-enter the maze. Once all eight pieces are collected, they must put the pieces side-by-side to make either a jaguar, a monkey or a croc. First to do that goes to the Final Three after Tribal tonight.

"Survivors ready...GO!"

The ladies take the early lead over Rafe as they each find their pair and get up to the platform in the middle of the maze. Rafe catches up, though, as both he and Danni get their second sets. Lydia and Steph are right behind them. Rafe then pulls ahead with his fourth while Lydia struggles. Everyone is already winded as the race continues.

It comes down between Rafe and Steph as they seem to find pieces and return them at roughly the same time. Danni is third...and Lydia is lost (here's a clue, Lydia; don't try to open the hatch). But, at the end, Steph turns the wrong way towards the platform and Rafe returns with his final pieces with Steph not so much on he heels.

Now comes the HARD part; putting a puzle together while your legs beg for more oxygenated blood from your lungs. Rafe and Steph struggle to get the pieces in place while Danni returns with HER last pieces. As Lydia grabs her last piece and races to find the pontoons, Rafe gets close...Steph gets close...Danni...not so much.

"Jeff, I got it!" says Rafe. Sure enough, he has a jaguar. But he doesn't WIN a Jaguar...just Immunity. But, hey, he'll take it.


Everyone seems to be congratulating Rafe for his killer win and his one more day of survival. But Steph...she wants to make the Final Two in the worst possibile way...and that's exactly how she's going about it by almost BEGGING Rafe. Steph feels they played a very similar game together and never lied to each other. And they feel that Lydia is the strongest link that prevents them from at least 100 grand. Thus, it's best to keep HER in the Final Three and THEN kick her out. One problem, though: Rafe promised Danni a seat in the Final Three. Not only that, but Rafe feels a bit of debt to Danni because she's part of why he MADE it this far.

Uh, Steph,...are you STILL obsessing over that chicken carcass?! Well, I guess protein is protein. She and Lydia go over to the ritual fire and find the meat within the chicken. As they gather it (which shocks me that LYDIA is OK with it), Lydia asks Steph about her getting into the Final Three. Steph says she's all for it...but Rafe hasn't answered yet.

Returning with the chicken, Steph suggests a prayer in the place of violating sacred ground. Afterwards, they chow down...well...everyone but Rafe, that is. He doesn't want to think that the experience earlier today was for naught. So the girls chomp on the chicken.

Just then, a bolt of lightning struck all three ladies!

Nah, just fooling ya. But a massive thunderstorm DOES appear a little later. gets them to wondering if they did something horribly wrong. Fortunately for them, it DOES break up just in time for...


Uncle Jeff re-welcomes us to his Ancient Pyramid O' Doom and hauls in the five-member Jury to listen in on their sins. Rafe talks about the ceremony and how it has effected him as a person. Lydia talks about the storm that seemed to had swamped the entire area...and the possibility that they were directly responcible for it because of the chicken they ate (and Rafe pled innocent since he DIDN'T eat). Steph respected the ritual...but it's @#$%ing MEAT, Jeff! Uncle Jeff says they'll talk about this later.

So...who's feeling vulnerable? Lydia doesn't think she's a physical threat for the (obvious) final physical Challenge so...why NOT the Final Three? Danni thinks that Survivor has turned into Everybody Loves Lydia. Steph thinks Danni's as much of a threat because she hasn't had to backstab anybody.

With Rafe keeping Immunity, it's time to vote. Rafe, Danni, Lydia and Steph write their votes (none which are revealed to the camera after editing). Uncle Jeff tallies them, re-arranges them, and reads them:






Lydia, the tribe has spoken. You WERE the biggest threat...g'bye! See ya in the Jury.

Uncle Jeff leaves us with a cryptic message: "I hope the gods have forgiven you."


Apparantly, the gods have NOT forgiven them completely as it rained all night and into the next morning. And EVERYTHING is soaked...especially all the firewood. Not only that, but the gods have set the howler monkeys' volume up to 11 this morning, meaning an earlier start for all. The corn is moldy and the chicken is fully no food. But, hey, Steph ain't complaining. She's lasted WAY longer than the LAST time.

One more piece o' Pot-Mail:

Congratulations, Final Three. Today you will venture on a quest to pay tribute to your fifteen fallen comrades. Hike from camp to the temple ruins where you will find the torches and images of the Survivors who played this game but were out-witted, out-played and out-lasted.

Take the images of your former tribe members and immortalize their memory by sacrificing them to the Fire. Reflect upon the time you have spent with them.

At the end of the journey, you will compete in one final Immunity Challenge. Tonight, one of you will join the fifteen who are already gone.

Ah, the old "Walk Through Fallen Comrades" that's a staple of all Survivor shows. Just...don't eat the images after you've sacrificed them, Steph.

At the top of the pyramids/temples sits the Fire - a cauldron ablaze - and the threesome walk clockwise around each one and reflect on those that had passed before them: Jim, the man who helped Nakum win their home during the first two days; Morgan, the fighter who was socially challenged; Brianna, who couldn't survive the culture shock; Brooke, who wouldn't stop despite the challenges; Blake, the "Golden Boy" (nuff said); Margaret, the mother nurse of the tribe; Brian, who was blind-sided but not unbowed; Amy, the @#$%ing @#$% who left by a @#$%ing bad ankle; Brandon, who couldn't cut the rope...or the mustard; Bobby Jon, who, for the second straight time, couldn't make it; Jamie, the guy who faced Bobby Jon man-to-man; Gary, the guy who hid his football days to the end; Judd, the loudmouth who called them "scumbags";Cindy, who has zero regrets for 36 days ('cause, y'know, she DOES have a new car); and Lydia, the little lady with the big heart.


Uncle Jeff meets us at our final Immunity Challenge...which, of course, is unofficially entitled "Who Wants It Most". Each of the Final Three will balance on a small platform with a ball-and-socket joint which makes it WAY wobbly. They'll each hang on to two ropes for stability. After an hour, one rope is released. After 90 minutes, the other is. Last one standing gets to choose who goes to the Final Tribal Council with him/her and a shot at that cool million.

"Survivors, ready...BALANCE!"

After twenty minutes of swaying, Rafe fights hard to remove his glasses and does so, much to Danni's amusement. 40 minutes...and the howlers say hello as they review that Rafe has had Individual Immunity four times to Steph's and Danni's one apiece. At 59 minutes, Jeff reminds them that they can each let go of either rope...and that they're not out until their feet hit the ground.

One rope platform that slipped! Steph is hanging by a thred (literally) as she tries to get back on the pedastal. Then DANNI slips and holds on tight to the rope to try to get properly situated. Then RAFE slips! It's a test of strength now...who can hang on the longest?

Well, it doesn't come to that. Steph leans against one of the rigging poles the rope she's hanging on to is attached to and plants her feet on the platform. It's stable...but not by much. Rafe tries to duplicate it but his lanky legs just aren't cutting it. Danni mimicks Steph and hangs in tight. Rafe finally stabilizes...and it's a game again.

Aching arms, aching legs...and one minute until there's no support but the rigging. Danni and Steph each put their hats under the small of their backs to support them. And Jeff says that if they use their hands at all from 90 minutes on, they're done. 3...2...1...let go. They all do...and they all stay put. Steph rubs her thighs, Rafe covers his nether-region for some reason and Rafe tries to stretch a leg or two. 95 minutes, he reaches back to grab the post to get in a better position..and, with that, Rafe will NOT get his fifth Immunity.

2 hours and 5 minutes...Steph has sunk lower and lower on the post so that her hat is now at the back of her neck. cleaning her nails, it seems.

2:38...Danni is feeling fine...but Steph seems to have entrophied. She tries to push up...but the hat drops and that makes it MORE painful on her back. She tries again to inch her way up...but she falls to her backside and her feet slide off. Danni wins Final Immunity!

(Gee,...maybe getting rid of Lydia WASN'T such a bad idea after all. Ah, well...too late.)

As Steph bawls in pain and anguish, Danni comes over to comfort her...but RAFE comes over to end the Alliance with Danni. He doesn't want Danni to vote for him if she doesn't want to. Uh,...yeah, that's nice and all, Rafe, but we have a HURT TRIBE MEMBER HERE!


Danni, as you may have guessed, loves that she's in the Final Two...but HATES having to decide between either Steph or Rafe to TAKE there. Rafe re-affirms that Danni shouldn't keep her promise to him if she doesn't want to. And that just puts MORE pressure on Danni! But Rafe feels that it's been Rafe v. Steph since Day 1 and that she deserves a chance.

Steph tells Danni that, had they KEPT Lydia, it definitely wouldn't have been LYDIA with the one-in-two Danni doesn't owe STEPH anything either. She played her best and got further than she EVER thought she could on her second time around. All she can say to Danni is, "go with your heart".


Bobby Jon, Jamie, Gary, Judd, Cindy and Lydia sit opposite Steph, Danni and Rafe as Uncle Jeff starts the grilling again. First question: why the hell didn't they get rid of the stronger of the two? Steph felt the Final Challenge could've gone either way...and that HER only hope was to tie the last Tribal Vote since Rafe and given his word to Danni. Danni beat her no regrets.

Danni STILL can't believe she actually WON today...and Steph was emotional. Rafe tells about the promises and why he broke it. How does Danni feel about a decision that could cost her 900 grand? Nervous as all hell! She says Rafe's been a friend and helped her get in...and Steph got most of the Jury mad at her so...EITHER one was a good choice. Steph actually AGREES with Danni about her being disliked. And Rafe thinks it's even since they screwed the same people over during the game.

OK, you know the drill. Steph and Rafe can't vote for Danni or themselves so their votes cancel out. Danni's sole vote will decide the final member of the Jury...and who goes with her into the Million-Dollar Tribal Council. She trudges to the "voting booth", takes the parchment and scratches a name on it. Uncle Jeff retrieves it and reads it aloud:


Um.......WHOA! Didn't see THAT coming! Rafe has fought the good fight...but Danni has spoken...and she wants a lady to win this rendition.

(And, BTW, Rafe didn't mean all that mumbo jumbo earlier today. He WANTED to be in the Final I guess that's ONE vote for Steph right there!)


The Howler Monkey Alarm Clock goes off one more time for Stephenie and Danni, the Final Two Survivors in Guatemala. One will get $100,000...the other, a million AND a car! Steph mentions that only THEIR names on in yellow on the Xhakum tribal flag. Steph (like everybody else) couldn't BELIEVE she got this far after failing so miserably in the South Pacific islands. Danni can't believe it that much herself...but she's proud of Steph.

The attitude remains cordial between the two because, really, there's nothing more that can be done by them. Just lounge in the croc-proof pool and look back on 39 days of trials and tribulations, guts and glory. They both agree that this time in Central America was wonderful and unforgettable.

OK, time to burn down the shelter. It seems that the gods have FINALLY forgiven them for the whole chicken deal and they let the bonfire burn. They boil more water to drink before packing up their ditty bags and torches and marching toward their final destiny. Steph is confident that her words will speak above her actions while Danni will just be herself.


Once more, the two ladies march into the Ancient Pyramid O' Doom to face Uncle Jeff...and, more IMPORTANTLY, face the Jury: Bobby Jon, Jamie, Gary, Judd, Cindy, Lydia and the recently-departed Rafe. Uncle Jeff goes through the format. Opening statements by the Final Two, grilling and/or questions by each of the seven Jury members, closing arguments and Final Vote.

For her opening, Danni feels honored to have made it because she didn't think she'd survive the switch from Nakum to Yaxha. She surprised that she wasn't a threat and that endurance was her strong point. She played good and honest...and bribes the Jury with Kansas City barbequing one day.

Steph thanks everyone for making it a great experience. She's HUMBLED that she's in the Final Two...since SHE thought she'd be one of the FIRST get voted off, that is. She also says that she'll be honest with her answers...especially to those she's pissed off.

Time for Jury Questions. First up is BJ, who congrats the girls for making it no matter WHO won. He asks Steph how proud she is about how she played. She is quite proud...although she'd take two votes back if she could (though she doesn't name who). BJ then asks Danni the same question and she says she's happy and grateful...and just wished they had won more Immunity Challenges so that the numbers going into the merge would've been better.

HUT-HUT! Gary is next and says he'll base his vote on who gives the most honest answer. So, ladies,... why should Gary NOT vote for you tonight? Steph said it was because of the blown alliance from the first day...and the fact that the alliance she made LATER didn't INCLUDE Gary. Danni says that aligning with Rafe was a selfish faux pax on her part , especially when she HAD one WITH Gary from near the start.

Jamie comes up and asks Danni who her top five would have been had she had the choice to MAKE a Final Five. BJ, Gary and Brandon made the list because of their bonds...but she didn't mention Jamie or ANY fifth member. Jamie then tells Steph he didn't talk to those he voted out beforehand...but Steph backstabbed a lot of the does she think the Jury FEELS about that? Steph said Jamie was NOT a full decision by her...but she played this game the best it could be and thinks she deserves the votes.

Little Lydia takes the stand next. She is MAD at Steph for being friends with her from Day 6 and then being voted out by her. Why SHOULD she vote for a backstabber? Steph thanks Lydia for being loyal and says she based her decision on who was the toughest to beat in the Final Three. She's mad at Danni, too, for trusting why should she vote for HER? Danni says the line of communication between them was wide open...but, to win a million, you HAVE to break trust sometimes. She closes by saying, "It's a game!"

Next up is Cindy and she asks which Jury member the girls would eliminate and why? Danni would rather it be Rafe since she KNOWS he'll vote for Steph...and Steph picks BJ...just because he was first IN the Jury.

Rafe says congrats (between clenched teeth, I'm sure) and is proud of them. He wonders WHY Danni changed her vote last night. Danni says Steph fought to the very end with every ounce of her being...and she thought Steph was most deserving of a chance at the million. He then says Steph dominated and respected that...but what was the best strategic move she made but did NOT tell Rafe about? Steph says she was totally honest with there was nothing she did that he didn't know about.

Finally is Big Bad Judd. He congrats them...and he asks Danni if she's ever been ice-skating or roller-blading before...because, to HIM, Danni's one of the best "ice-skaters" in the game because that's what she did: "skated" through the game. He ALSO asks if she was deceitful...and she admits that she told Jamie she was putting Gary's name down...and it was Jamie's instead. Judd doesn't believe it, feeling she lied all the way through the game. Not that STEPH was a Girl Scout, either. He asks Steph if sheh is starving...because Steph's been eating a LOT during these 39 days. He claims that Steph backstabbed almost everyone on the Jury...and he's MAD that Steph lied to his wife about how strong an alliance was between them...and then voted him out the very next night! The shouting match goes back and forth between the twosome before Judd finally ends it and heads back to the Jury Box.

After Uncle Jeff compliments that this is the best...Jury...EVER, colsing statements are made. Steph thanks them for the questions and wants to PROVE why she's worthy of the million. She thinks this is the hardest game and brings out the hardest qualities...but she IS a good girl and she heartfully apologizes. She allied herself with strong people and had to take the leadership role after a while... but the fact is that she outplayed, outwitted and outlasted...which was the sole purpose of the game!

As for Danni, she played the waiting game. She hoped against the alliances standing firm and waited to FIND the leader. She likewise aligned with Steph and the rest...but then became friends, so the voting became more and more tough leading up to this. She ends by saying that, if she DOES win the million, it'll "go to good use".

And, with that, it is time to vote. This time, the girls WANT to see their names on the parchment. Bobby Jon...Gary...Judd (votes for "Dani" because he promised Steph "I ain't votin' for ya")...Cindy...Lydia... Rafe (votes for Steph, saying "Your character is your strategy")...and Jamie march up the steps, write down the names...and march back.

So...will it be montage or fade to live this time? Last time it was NEITHER as Jeff just WALKED from Palau to the stage in record time.'s a quickie montage this time. A chopper picks him up...and APPARANTLY has enough gas to get him to...


The chopper lands on the rooftop and Jeff takes the stairway to the studio, Mayan urn in hands. There's Steph and there's Danni, awaiting the vote. There's the Jury, certain as to who has won...and there's the crowd, who just won't STOP CLAPPING! They finally do and tells what's a stake. The one who gets four votes out of seven wins a big fat check for a million bucks...AND a Pontiac Torrent. The loser...a measely $100,000.

Let's read the votes:



(OK, got the KNOWN votes out of the way...)



(Do I have to say it?)




After about a two-minute applause break and a few commercials, we meet and greet all eighteen Survivors. Jeff thinks Danni got a 5000% return on her $200 investment for the Immunity Challenge "advantage" during the auction...and she agrees whole-heartedly. Rafe's not angry at Danni for the decision she made on Day 38. Gary agrees that sDanni was a "stealth bomber", not hitting anyone until the very end. Lydia lasted as long as she did as a provider and a positive attitude.

Next talk is to the returning Survivors, Bobby Jon and Stephenie. Steph was the "sweetheart" of Palau who had absolutely NO expectations of passing the first Tribal Council...and she changed her attitude for THIS game to keep from being stuck in seventh. She admits that the way she played was quite opposite of what she did in Palau...but Rafe played it the same no regrets. Gary thinks the twosome used their "celebrity" to their advantage...which was smart. And Steph's voting out of Judd lead to the "scumbags" line as Judd departed. Judd claims he was just angry to have lost. (Oh, and the tirade to Margaret by Judd...just strategy.) Now, BJ talks about the two-day trek that nearly destroyed me. He, likewise, shifted gears for this version and prospered because of it, making the Jury that he missed out on last time. They then talk about BJ and Jamie's rivalry...and Jamie, paranoia and all, says they've made up.

And, now, the moment many have waited for: "Gary Hawkins" fesses up to being Gary Hogeboom and says he WAS a former NFL QB. Danni outed him immediately as a former Dallas Cowboy thatnks to her sports talk radio days. Gary was freaking from day 1 to keep it a secret. And Amy...upon hearing the news beforehand, she SO wanted to thrash him like a rented QB...but she's cool know, and just LOVES the publicity it got her from the crooks she busted. Oh, and Cindy...she wants to go BACK to the jungle. As for the "Car Curse", Rafe doesn't think she would've made the Final Four ANYway.

Back to Guatemala for a sec, Margaret says she's going back as part of the relief effort along with Brian. As for "Golden Boy" Blake...what did his girlfriend feel about description of her? Blake says she laughed...and her FATHER can't believe her "breasts got him kicked off".

Going into the home stretch, we talk about GRUELING this version was, starting with the first trek. Brandon talks about how tough that was. Jim, the first one out, STILL thinks the experience was worth it, even if it only last three days. Brian attributes sheer luck for HIS failure. Brookke got labeled as the smartie early on and THAT cost her. Brianna was overwhelmed out of the game but had an awesome time. Morgan didn't have enough time there...but she's proud of what she accomplished.

Oh, yeah, there WILL be a twelveth Survivor. They're headed BACK to Panama for the third time...but, specifically, to a lonely island dubbed "Exile Island"! Every episode, at LEAST one Survivor will have to spend an interminate amount of time there, cut off from everybody. But...there's something there that can give THEM a million...if they can find it. How will the 16 Survivors be split? How will exile help strategy? Who will be the TWELVETH Ultimate Survivor?!

How the hell should I know?! I'm just a recapper, for criminy's sake!!

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