Enduring Survivor

2011-02-18 15:45

The heat was beating against my skin as I sank into the warm aqua azure coral of the Maldivian ocean. As I bobbed up, I saw some people floating while others were swimming to the shore in a panicked race. I bobbed for a moment too long before it hit me – I was playing a brutal game of wits and strength.

What had I agreed to? Survivor Maldives: ­Media, that’s what.

After a 14-hour journey from the comfort of my suburban home I was about 2km from the equator, in the middle of the ocean, fighting with not only the coral below my feet but with myself. Already I wanted to quit.

For years I’ve been watching Survivor on TV. Now, as part of the game, I was the last of my team, choking on the life jacket around my throat, while fighting to get to the shore.

I was on the yellow team and in true Survivor style, we were given the rules: you can quit at any time, leave cellphones behind, and you only have the clothes on your back.

We were given some leeway, though – a pot and some rice. A small gift in exchange for the barren island we were dumped on.

There were old shoes, clothing and bottles littering the ­pristine white sands and the strip of beach was probably a kilometre wide.

I was a mess. My shorts kept falling to my ankles because they were so wet, and the shelter my teammates had decided on was a grubby, muddy space under some trees filled with i­nsects.

Soon the paranoia set in. No one seemed to be talking to me and they were talking among themselves. Were they mad because they were stuck with a bad swimmer? I felt isolated.

Eventually, another member came to talk to me and we ended up searching for fire wood.
The next morning we played the first reward challenge. ­Using some sort of cushion, you had to push your opponent into a swamp. I’m proud to say I went down after a hard fight and our team ended up winning the challenge.

The strategy I came up with was simple: be nice. I was too tiny to win at the physical challenges or to break massive branches from trees for fire wood.

So I was nice and held my tongue for tribe members who thought they were taking the lead. By that afternoon we were playing for immunity and I was ready to go home. We had lost a rowing and diving challenge, and I was sure I was going to be voted off.

Then a teammate asked me to be a swing vote to get a power player out. The game was on. I had moved from being dead weight in the tribe to being the central player.

The big shock came at tribal council, and boy was it dramatic. The power player thought I was being voted out, but instead she was blindsided and voted out.

And that was how I survived my short game of Survivor.

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