WHEN SURVIVOR: Vanuatu’s Chad Crittenden returned from several weeks
on the South Pacific island, we asked the 35-year-old Oakland resident
to give us the inside scoop about some lingering Survivor questions.
Q: Why don’t the players on Survivor ever talk about situations that came up on previous seasons?
A: We did talk about other seasons, but that all gets cut out. My
wife and I had been watching [the show] since the first season, and you
could definitely take things away from other installments of Survivor.
There wouldn’t have been the concept of an alliance if it weren’t for
Q: How long does a day seem to last on the island?
A: Really long. You’re suffering—you’re always dehydrated, and you’re craving food. Even after we got fire, we had to carry water back and forth from the creek—a long way—to boil it so we could drink it.
Q: What did you miss most about the East Bay while you were on Vanuatu?
A: I have to be honest: Most of the game, I was repressing any feelings I had about home. It was too big an indulgence, and those thoughts and feelings could spin out of control. If people talked about their family, or the food they wanted to eat, I tried to tune that out. People talked about Snickers bars a lot.
Q: But what food did you dream of?
A: There’s this Mexican take-out place in Oakland on International and 22nd. Taco Cineloa—it’s just a little roach coach.
Q: What was it like being so far away from your wife and family?
A: I missed our fifth anniversary while I was over there. But
missing my daughter, that was the hardest thing. When I came back to
the Oakland airport—that was when I got my daughter in my hands and I
really broke down.
Q: They must have missed you, too.
A: I hid little notes around the house. Weeks would go by and my wife would find another one and show it to the kids.
Q: When you were finally voted off, how did that first meal taste?
A: I ate so much! I would just force myself to keep eating. It’s a strange psychological experience—you’re full, but your brain says to keep eating. Even after I was done, I brought a whole cake back to bed with me. I would wake up and take a couple of bites and go back to sleep.