This and more in's first installment of the ex Survivor's diary

By Ramona Gray
Updated July 14, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

In between heaving and getting the heave-ho, ”Survivor”’s Ramona Gray chronicled her Pulau Tiga exploits. In part 1 of EW’s excerpt, she details the physical hardship and the mental exhaustion.


For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. — Galatians 6:7

ISLAND BOUND! This is it! Today’s the day… the first day of the rest of my life! Everyone got a 5 a.m. wake-up call. I was the first contestant at breakfast — there was nothing left to do in my room after getting dressed and praying. I can’t really eat, though, cuz I’m so excited/ nervous/ anxious!

OK, so we take a 30-minute boat ride to a real village in Borneo! Once thru the village, we’re taken by two more boats to the Matahari — this big, yellow boat. Then the most amazing thing happened. They said we could talk! When I say we lost it, I MEAN WE LOST IT! We couldn’t introduce ourselves quick enough! The cameras were around but we didn’t even give them a second thought. They told us the ride to the island would take four hours — it’s been at least that cuz the island is in sight. LAND HO!


It’s morning of Day 2 and we’ve just about finished our latrine, our shelter’s foundation is done, and more water is on the way — not to mention the four fish traps that are currently in the water. I think we’re doing pretty damn good, and if given the entire day, we’ll kick ass in the challenges whenever they come.

Now, let’s go back to Day 1. About 1.5 miles from our respective beaches, the boat stopped and we were told that the teams were about to be divided… after which we would be allowed to take whatever we could grab in two minutes and be on a bamboo raft that had to be cut from the boat. We were supplied with 2 parangs (knives) and canteens for everyone, along with a map of our beach and one to show us where the water was.

No weapon formed against thee shall prosper… — Isaiah 54:17

Let me just say that when [exec producer Mark Burnett] counted down, the boat went into a frenzy. WAIT! I forgot to tell you who my kick-ass team is… we are the Pagong Tribe: Ramona, Gervase, Greg, Colleen, B.B., Gretchen, Jenna, Joel.

There is no way in a hundred years I [would] have guessed that they would put us together. It almost seems unfair. Our theory is that they’re matching brains vs. brawn… they just underestimate our brain power.

So, our team was faced with rowing to our beach AGAINST the current. Let me just say that it was no easy task. Half of us were on board, the other half in the water kicking. Not to mention no less than 100 lbs. of STUFF we had piled on the raft. We alternated as much as possible, so we all had a chance to row and rest. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do… and it seemed like we’d NEVER get there. Land just didn’t appear to be getting closer. And, throwing up overboard did not a pretty picture make!! I just couldn’t hold it down, so I would row a couple of strokes and heave (NOT A GOOD FEELING). I’d say it took us 2 hrs., at least, to get to our beach. It was ridiculous, but we did it TOGETHER!

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. — Psalms 23:1

The only thing we did that night was take an inventory and make a quick and easy shelter (which only half of us slept in — the rest of us slept on the raft). It was extremely UNCOMFORTABLE, but we made it through the first day. The reason some of us slept on the raft was becuz the rats were wreaking havoc on anything on the ground. We thought we’d be safe on the raft — it was off the ground… NOT!!

Now, back to Day 2 — about one half of the way through the day, we found out that we had a challenge. It was to be a reward/ immunity challenge. The reward was fire, the immunity was self-explanatory. On top of that, it started raining…. We kicked ass in the challenge. It didn’t really mean a lot to us reward-wise cuz Gretchen had started a fire already with B.B.’s glasses. Immunity-wise, we’re good for another three days while the other tribe has an island council today and will lose one of its members.

Get the full story in this week’s EW, on newstands now. Plus, will continue to excerpt Ramona’s diary daily.