By John Powell – GlobalTV.com
It is one thing to pull through the Survivor game. It is quite another to survive whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Best-selling author (‘Rise: True stories of triumph in the face of adversity’) and Survivor fan Rachel Ako expected a cutthroat competition when she was cast for Survivor but she never expected to be fighting for her life.
For the first time in 33 seasons, both camps had to be evacuated as a violent cyclone swept through Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. It annihilated all of the docks production was using and the winds were so strong the sand particles flying through the air felt like bullets, this according to Ako.
“When we went to Tribal Council that night, the boat was violently flaying in the water back and forth. We had to go to the boat. The boat doesn’t and cannot come to us. We had to walk into the ocean and I am one of the shorter ones and I had to jump into this boat,” she remembered. “The boat knocked me down. I went under the boat. It knocked Chris down and he went under the boat. We were underwater waiting for the boat to clear so we could come up for air and get into the boat. I had water and sand in my lungs. It was scary. I thought I was going to die at one point.”
A thankful Ako revealed more of her Survivor experience to us.
John Powell: What do you think went wrong for you out there?
Rachel Ako: I think when things went wrong for me is when I stood on the Gen-X mat. In the beginning the Gen-X were going after the Millennials and the Millennials were going after Gen-X. I was the only one saying…I think I am going through an identity crises. I could see what both generations bring to the table.
John Powell: Would you have rather played on a mixed tribe?
Rachel Ako: Yes. I was genuinely surprised when Jeff (Probst) announced that it was Gen-X versus Millennials. I am like…I am on an old tribe? (Laughs) Just kidding. I just wouldn’t accept it. I didn’t have all of these passionate feelings of hate for the Millennial generation.
I tried to embrace the Gen-X tribe but many of them have families and kids. They were instantly drawn to each other. Meanwhile, I am single. I don’t have kids. I felt like an outcast.
John Powell: Was there anything else that caused you to be targeted besides the fact that you didn’t belong?
Rachel Ako: My tribe mates thought I had a Hidden Immunity Idol so they voted for me and they split the votes in case I played it so CeCe would go home next. I didn’t at any point in time think that David was going home. I thought that he had the Idol. It was more of an Idol threat in my case.
John Powell: Did it ever go through your mind at Tribal Council to further the case of why the tribe should keep you over David?
Rachel Ako: They didn’t show it but I did talk to each and every person on my tribe beforehand and I could tell the deal was already closed. Nobody would tell me who they were voting for. There was no communication going back and forth. I knew my fate was sealed.
John Powell: What did you remember most about the experience and what did you take back with you?
Rachel Ako: Being able to be on the show and share that with my father was amazing. There was a point for many years where all my dad and I would talk about was Survivor. We really bonded over it.
My dad has only said he was proud of me once when I graduated high school, once when I graduated college and when I was in a pageant. He has said it very sparingly in my life. When he told me last night, even though I was first out, that he was proud of me, there is Survivor once again bringing me and my dad together.