The 44-year-old mother battled Silas and lost, but not to worry -- she says her nemesis wasn't as slimy as he seemed
Linda Spencer, Survivor: Africa
Credit: Survivor: Monty Brinton

She gulped down cow’s blood on cue, but that didn’t save Harvard career counselor Linda Spencer, 44, from getting the axe on the Nov. 1 episode of ”Survivor: Africa.” talked to the cancer survivor and mother of two about Lindsey’s nasty side, her bond with the grown-ups of Samburu, and what exactly was floating in that nasty water.

Not only did Silas, Lindsey, Kim, and Brandon sleep all day and eat all the food while you were out doing chores, they called you crazy behind your back. How much do you hate those weasels?
First of all, I’ve had some time to recover. I hate to say it, but they’re actually nice people when they’re out of the game. But yes, they were pretty arrogant and mean out there. I think when Lindsey described herself as a defensive person, that summed up a lot of her behavior. But we’ve made our peace. Basically we said, ”Hey, it was a game, I found you annoying, you found me annoying, let’s move on.” As for Silas, since I’ve gotten to know him a bit, I like him. I think more than anyone out there, he was putting on a game face. That wasn’t his true personality.

How do you feel about how you were depicted on the show?
I don’t think that I was portrayed all that accurately. I think the average viewer thought, Gee, every time this woman opens her mouth she’s spouting this monologue about ”Mother Africa” and I really want to slap her. But it was very rare that I spoke about it. That was sort of my characterization. But the truth is, I do believe in those things and I am a spiritual person.

When did you know the twentysomethings were going to pick you off next?
When Carl took his walk, I knew I was probably next. Even though they despised Frank, they needed his physical strength. Then in choosing between T- Bird [Teresa] and myself, they knew they couldn’t manipulate me easily, that I wasn’t a doormat. When they asked us to vote for Lindsey, T-Bird kept her mouth shut, but I asked, ”What’s in it for me?” I questioned things, so they went with the person who doesn’t question.

You seemed to hold your own in the challenges. Did you ever feel you couldn’t go on?
I never felt totally overwhelmed, but I definitely felt that my size was a deficit out there. I knew before the merge they were going to pick off the physically weaker people, and I was at a disadvantage. The challenges this season were much more physical than the ones during the first two. This year it was about brute strength.

What the hell is wrong with that water, anyway?
It was just foul. But it also smelled because of the pots and the gourds and the canteens that we had. The gourds had that smell of turpentine, so you’re bringing the water up to your lips and you can smell that oily smell, and that was pretty gross. It was so great after I was voted off that the first thing I was handed was a bottle of water. All I could think was, ”Oh my God, this water’s all for me and it’s clean!”

Your luxury item was aromatherapy oils. Did you ever use the stuff?
We all brought five luxury items, and of course the producers picked the things that were way down at the bottom of our lists, so I thought, This is ridiculous. But before each challenge, we had a whole ceremony where everybody got the aromatherapy and put it on their temples. In fact, I have it right here. I always carry it around with me. It’s very calming.

How ticked are you at Carl for blowing that last question, no pun intended?
After he did that, he looked at me with these puppy dog eyes and said ”I’m so sorry.” I knew he felt badly, and I would not have wanted to go out that way. When I heard they were going to use questions for the tiebreaker, I thought, ”Perfect! Carl’s going to win — he’s way smarter than Lindsey!” But it didn’t work out that way. Still, I’ve never been angry with him.

Do you still keep in touch with the other members of your alliance?
T-Bird, Carl, Frank, and I still have our bond, and it’s a very deep one. We check in with each other weekly. With the younger group, I know for a fact they’re not talking to each other the way we are, so that kind of tells you something right there.

What did you do in Africa after you got the boot?
I did something unique. I thought, the average person here makes less than a dollar a day, this is the poorest nation in Africa, and AIDS is rampant. I’m going to go on a safari? I think not. I was able to travel through some villages and research their public health care needs thanks to the Mpala Wildlife Foundation. They need another clinic, so I’m trying to raise money for that now.

Since Sept. 11, a lot of people feel reality shows are a little frivolous. How do you react to that?
I totally respect and understand that. I would probably say, please understand it’s a game show, it’s entertainment. If you need a distraction, it’s a wonderful distraction, but if you can’t see it that way, I totally understand.

Survivor: Africa
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