After a tribal swap in which the Goliath Tribe and the David Tribe became three new tribes, the new Vuku tribe voted out Natalia, a 25-year-old industrial engineer from Irvine, CA, on Night 11 at the third Tribal Council session of the Survivor season. Natalia became the fifth castaway to exit the game.
Given the original Goliath members had the numbers on Vuku, the initial -- and obvious -- targets were original David Tribe members Davie Rickenbacker, a 30-year-old social media manager who currently resides in Atlanta, GA, and Elizabeth Olson, a 31-year-old kitchen staffer who currently resides in Longview, TX.
Alec Merlino, however, flipped on Natalia and her close ally, Kara Kay, by blindsiding Goliath and taking out one of their own. Natalia was upset she didn't turn on Alec when she noticed a shift in his behavior.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Natalia talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the first portion of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Walking into Tribal Council, whom did you think was voting for Elizabeth with you, because I was a little surprised Kara voted for Davie. That threw me off because I thought you two were definitely working together.
Natalia Azoqa: Yes, I'm noticing that's a common question. Okay, so, Kara was supposed to vote for Davie, and Elizabeth, we knew she was going to vote for Davie at that point because she was onboard with voting for Davie and Davie was onboard with voting for Elizabeth -- because they knew one of the two was going to go home.
So we had two votes going for Davie, and I trusted Kara and that's why I was like, "Okay cool, you vote for Davie." And then Alec and I were going to vote for Elizabeth with Davie, so three votes to Elizabeth and two to Davie.
And it's when Alec started talking to Elizabeth that I knew something was wrong, because Alec's vote was supposed to go to Elizabeth. So, one of the two was going to go home because one of them had an idol, we assumed, and that one was going to play it. Well, I assumed at least.
Reality TV World: So it sounds like when Alec started whispering in Elizabeth's ear at Tribal Council, you knew he was telling her to vote you out?
Natalia Azoqa: Oh for sure. For sure. It was evident. And I had doubts the whole day, so that just confirmed it.
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Reality TV World: Since Alec was initially prepared to vote out Elizabeth, what do you think changed his mind? It appeared he flipped the switch after Elizabeth and yourself discussed at Tribal how it's important to show you have guts in this game and make big moves.
Natalia Azoqa: I think what flipped the switch for Alec was honestly my attitude. So Alec didn't want Elizabeth gone; he wanted Davie gone. And he said that a couple of times to Kara and I, but we were so adamant on getting Elizabeth gone because Elizabeth was putting my name out there.
If she was talking about me going home, God knows if we get to the merge, she's just going to continue on and be gone. And I didn't feel comfortable with that. So I wanted Elizabeth gone for obvious reasons, and Alec couldn't really give Kara and I an obvious reason as to why Davie would be going home.
I think my aggressive side came out because I started to not trust Alec, and I started to get aggressive because he wasn't really giving me any information.
So I think that aggression just kind of turned the wrong way and confirmed -- like, he had those thoughts he wanted to make a big move, and I think my aggressive side coming out and obviously Elizabeth and Davie whispering in his ear, saying, "Make a big move! Make a big move," is obviously going to push him towards that spectrum.
If he thought that was a good move, whatever. If you want to play Survivor voting for someone that was going to have your back going into the merge, that's on you. But he thought it was a good move and that's what he wanted to do.
Reality TV World: You were a strategic player and maybe a threat to Alec, but would you flat out say his decision to vote you out was stupid, for lack of a better term, (laughs) considering Carl Boudreaux joining Vuku will now give the Davids the numbers in the new five-person tribe?
Natalia Azoqa: Ugh, yeah! I think it was stupid. I think I couldn't have given him more reasons to want to work with me, and he read it as me not trusting him, but really, he just wasn't giving me any information.
I tried talking to him so many times about the game, people, strategy -- and he never opened up. I just could not get anything in return, so I think it was stupid for him to vote me out because he wanted to look cool. That's how I feel.
I feel like he wants to look like he made a big move, and it felt like a [Michaela Bradshaw] moment. I felt like I was Michaela and I was just like, "Really? Really, you're going to do this right now?" So, (laughs) yeah.
Reality TV World: You had a gut feeling you couldn't trust Alec but decided to work with him anyway, which you came to regret. Had you decided to work against him, what would your plan have been?
Natalia Azoqa: So this is the hard part. I would've went against him, but Kara really believed he was on our side and I talked to her numerous times telling her, "I just don't feel he's being honest and truthful. He's not making eye contact."
When your closest ally in the game is not onboard, it's really hard to make that jump, and I don't want to blindside her! Also, I didn't have a lot of time with Elizabeth and Davie to really switch that vote because I didn't trust them either. I just had one night with them.
Also, Alec is very strong in challenges, so I knew we were probably going to have a couple more challenges. And having the strongest person on our tribe go home is not going to help us out.
We're only going to dwindle down. Also, we didn't have the numbers if Alec was going to go home. We'd have three Davids and then me and Kara. So I was just really thinking about my game going forward, and it just didn't make sense to vote Alec out.
I would've went with it if I was getting that confirmation from Kara, but because she was so adamant on trusting him, it never happened.
Reality TV World: We know Alec was whispering to Elizabeth to vote you out, but could you clarify what Kara then whispered in your ear after she spoke personally with Alec at Tribal Council?
Natalia Azoqa: Yeah, Kara whispered to me saying that Alec was just talking to her to confirm the vote. And I said to Kara, "That's not true. There's no reason for him to talk to her."
And then again, I asked Kara in her ear, I said, "Are you with me?" Because I wanted to see it in her face if she was lying to me point blank.
Because at that point, I'm sorry, but come on, it couldn't have been more obvious that Alec was voting me out, and she didn't believe it. And that made me upset, because I was like, "God, am I the only one on this tribe that's seeing what's happening?!"
I had my closest ally not really onboard with me, and it kind of made me annoyed. So I kept having to ask her, "Are you voting with me? Are you voting for me?" I didn't know what to believe because she wasn't seeing it.
I started to think, "Okay, if she's not seeing it, then she really just doesn't see it and she's not going to flip on him, or she's with him and she's pretending that she's not with him."
So at that point, I was calculating what my move was to make, and I knew it wasn't going to work. If I didn't have Kara, it wasn't going to work.
Be sure to check back with Reality TV World soon for two more parts of our exclusive Survivor interview with Natalia.