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LI 'Survivor' contestant Tiffany Seely voted off the island

Jeff Probst snuffs out Tiffany Seely's torch at

Jeff Probst snuffs out Tiffany Seely's torch at Tribal Council on the eighth episode of "Survivor 41."   Credit: CBS / Robert Voets

Plainview middle-school teacher Tiffany Seely was voted off "Survivor 41" Wednesday, becoming the eighth person eliminated this season — and the first to be on the eventual final jury.

"Nobody was talking to me" by that point, Seely, 47, told Newsday by phone from her home. "Xander [Hastings] flipped on me, which was super out-of-the-blue after I showed him loyalty by not using his idol" during an earlier ploy in which the 21-year-old rival had given Seely his immunity idol so that he could truthfully say when asked that he did not have one.

Then, as seen in the episode's Tribal Council before the fateful vote, "Heather [Aldret] gets up, tells me not to move — which, of course, I jumped up and moved. Please. Give me a break! — and went to talk to Xander," Seely says. "Everybody was running around trying to change plans … and it became a vote between myself and Heather." With Deshawn Radden persuading Shantel "Shan" Smith to keep Aldret, "I went out on a terrible vote — a messy, ugly, not-great-strategically vote."

Regardless, Seely treasured her time there. Sunrise over Fiji "is neon-red fiery," she describes when prompted. "You don't even know where the sky ends and the water begins. It's hard to explain because your eyes are not used to seeing things like that — it takes a minute to comprehend what you're looking at." At night "when you looked up at the stars, it actually felt like you could touch one … all these stars are right in your face. It's surreal. And that water — there's no word for what that looks like in real life," she says. "Where we were never get lost on me," she says. "I wish somebody could jump into my eyes and just take a look."

The season's primary hardship was hunger, due to what host Jeff Probst, an executive producer, maintained at Tribal Council was a deliberate tack to see how reducing calories affects mental and physical abilities. Probst earlier noted the castaways subsisted largely on coconuts, small fish and crabs they hunted and gathered.

"And we ran out of coconuts," Seely recalled. Aside from the fruit being high up in the trees and "there's no way unless you're a Capuchin monkey to go get them," the castaways depleted the ones foraged from the ground. On an island filled with palm trees? How? "There are only a certain amount of places you can actually go on the island," she explains. "The rest is crew [area] and roped off. So you can't go past a certain spot. And also the coconuts become rotten."

No matter the outcome, Seely derived satisfaction from having been herself — a brash Long Islander. "I walked in and they were, like, scared of me!" she recalls, chuckling, of meeting her fellow castaways. "I'm from New York! We have a lot of energy. I don't stop," she says. "I was who I was out there."

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