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Exclusive interview: Callie North on why she tapped out on Alone

Callie North in Alone
Callie North showed that women are just as strong as men at surviving in the wild

Last week on Alone saw a fan favorite and someone who we assumed was a front-runner do a surprise tap out.

We never saw it coming as Callie North called for the retrieval team.

She had cooked a beautiful meal of rainbow trout and foraged greens while it appeared her fellow contestants were bombing out, trying to catch or trap some food.

Her home was cozy, fires lit, and her frightening spider bites were on the mend.

But in a jaw-dropping twist we ended Episode 8 with Callie bowing out of History’s gruelling survivalist competition, which places experienced bushmen and bushwomen out in the remotest corners of the globe.

Surely, it would have been skin-and-bones Dave, or poor Meghan whose inquisitive fox kept her up all night.

Nope. Callie, the one who made a sauna from scratch, a proper chair, and an instrument, and who had paved her walkway and floor of her abode with beautifully layed rocks. It was her who had decided she had fulfilled her destiny in Patagonia and had to leave.

But why?

We spoke to herbalist Callie, who weathered the solitude with grace and style, and asked her…

Monsters and Critics: Callie, we were really rooting for you from the get-go. It’s great to speak to you. 

Callie North: Thank you so much for your thoughtful questions and for being such wonderful fans of the show!

I have enjoyed reading your reviews after the episodes. I’m still processing the episode [that aired last week]. It was such a beautiful final episode. I was very moved.

It brought a lot of closure for me and helped remind me of the purpose and the joys of the journey. I’m forever grateful for this experience.

M&C: Could you talk about the specific moment when you finished your amazing meal foraged in last week’s episode? What exactly was it between that scene and you singing, and the morning shot where you announced you were tapping out (I was waiting for you to say ‘psyche!) that made you okay to walk away from this?

Callie: There was a lot of thought that went into my departure. It wasn’t a knee-jerk decision but something I meditated on for some time. From day one, I had put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to ‘win’.

After the experience of dealing with the spider bites and almost having to go home I realized that winning was not the most important thing to me; what was important was having a complete journey and finding closure not only with the land but with myself. I did not want to leave in distress but on my own terms.

Once I let go of winning, the whole journey shifted and I could sink into a much deeper place of growth within myself.

I trust that a way to buy my land will present itself. That is just a monetary exchange of goods whereas this experience of having a true and complete journey is once in a lifetime.

I do not feel a single iota of regret. It was a perfect journey for me and the person who wins this thing is the person who is meant to win it.

There is so much that is going on for each us that is not shown [on film]. Everyone out there is very thoughtful about why they signed up and why they choose to leave.

The entire experience was simply the most beautiful, profound and truly greatest gift of my life.

Callie’s deeply infected spider bites, which were healed with Usnea lichen poultices she made

M&C: Let’s talk about the spider bites for a moment. Are they fully healed, and do you think you know how that happened or when?

Callie: There is still pain when I touch the scars, which are blue and a little red. But they are fully healed over.

Spiders usually bite when squished between clothing or a sleeping bag. I believe I got them in my sleeping bag — I would often find bugs that crawled in there for the warmth!

M&C: Your inventiveness was something fans of the show really admired. People responded to your tenacity and humor. What was your favorite construction…the sauna? Your abode? Chair? What was it you built and conceptualized that you were most proud of designing and executing its construction?

Callie: I am the type of person, like Fowler, who is most happy when I am working on a project. Creativity is a force that cannot be suppressed no matter what situation you find yourself in. I enjoyed all my creations and every single one served a purpose for my longevity out there.

I loved my home and my hearth, which kept the house toasty warm when a fire was raging but I think I especially loved my instrument. It provided me with endless hours of entertainment and comfort. I wrote many songs during my time in Patagonia.

M&C: I assume you have seen all the episodes or many of them. Did you notice what the viewers noticed that the women of Alone including you are most comfortable in their own company, had the least (if any) deranged on-camera solo talking moments (Dave and Dan) and if you could comment on that?

Callie: The women of this season are absolutely unbelievable warriors. Megan and Carleigh are truly two of the most grounded, skilled, strong, kind and self-reliant people I have ever met. It was the greatest honor to get to take this journey alongside them.

I have to say there may be some truth in the internal fortitude that all women carry. We have developed this strength over thousands of years.

We had to internalize our strength because we were not allowed to be outwardly strong due to living in a male-dominated society. That strength served all the women of Alone in their journeys.

That said, the men on this show are incredible too. We all become a little deranged after a while, especially after the second month. Things get seriously kooky!

Because the show is condensed, it’s hard to understand that 2-3 months alone with literally minutes of human contact is an experience that transforms you and takes you to places you never knew existed.

We all had our struggles and we all had our joys. Mentally though it was an extremely tough group.

I strongly believe that if there was a more abundant source of caloric intake almost every contestant this year would have been able to mentally make it much longer.

M&C: What are you doing now for work?

Callie: I own a herbal apothecary shop on the island where I was raised and have lived as an adult for many years. It is the sweetest and most magical space.

I was in the process of opening my business when the opportunity for the show presented itself. I actually opened the doors of the shop two weeks before I left.

It was a hard decision to leave something I had poured so much love into but I knew it was the right decision.

A dear friend of mine moved from Maui to run the business for me while I was gone. Without her support both physically and spiritually I would have not been able to take this journey.

There was a lot of magic tied into my business and going to Patagonia. For instance, I named my business Pachamama Apothecary.

Pachamama is the Mother Earth goddess of the Andes Mountains so when I found out we were going to be living in the foothills of the Andes (Pachamama Land) for the show it gave me the greatest affirmation that this journey was meant to happen.

I prayed to Pachamama every single day. She helped provide me with great abundance.

M&C: What was the biggest gift this two-month plus sabbatical alone in the wilderness of Patagonia gave to you?

Callie: Oh goodness where to begin! I feel like I am still integrating the deep work I did out there. The whole experience was the most profound gift.

In subtle but incredible ways it transformed me from the inside out. The personal growth was so huge. My self-confidence and direction in life is more grounded and clear than I ever knew possible.

One of the biggest things out there for me was learning to let go of attachment to expectations and outcomes. We have to trust the unfolding.

I truly believe we can manifest anything we want but the journey that takes us to the end point is never going to be what we expect.

Honor and celebrate the process and understand everything is happening exactly as it is meant too.

M&C: Your Patagonia song you sang in the episode last night was great. Your musical instruments you made, do you credit that ability and desire to sing and keep music an important diversion as something that kept you firmly grounded and happy during your stay alone?

Callie singing and making music with an instrument she made in the wilds of Patagonia

Callie: Music has been a big part of my life since forever. I come from a very musical family and community which is always breaking into song and playing together.

I knew that writing music, singing and making an instrument was not only going to offer me entertainment but comfort and solace during my time out there.

When we sing, our brains release dopamine — music in a sense is a happy drug. I was singing most of the time out there so perhaps this was why I was so happy during the entirety of my experience.

M&C: I noticed you were not bothered by animals like Megan and Carleigh. Did any foxes, pumas or boar come near your home?

Callie: Unlike Megan, who literally had a fox clawing at her shelter every single night for almost two months, I was lucky and animals never came into my space that I knew of.

There were lots of sign of boar around and I often smelled male cat spray but I never felt threatened by anything in Patagonia. The land and its creatures were my greatest allies. I was hoping to see a puma but never got the opportunity.

M&C: What creature comfort did you miss most while in Patagonia?

Callie: Above anything else, I think what I missed most out there was food and family. The desire for food was huge. We had no salt source out there and of course no sugar so not having those two things in my diet was extremely hard.

I dreamed about food every single night. I lost 26 lbs. out there. I was wasting away slowly and even though I was fishing and foraging it was not enough to sustain me in a healthy way.

I believe if I had gone on much longer with so little food I would have suffered serious health risks. This is another reason I am happy I chose to leave when I did. Having irreversible health damage is not worth all the money in the world.

M&C: What do you want to tell your fans and those who followed your journey to know?

Callie: I could not have taken this journey without the complete and deep support of my community, family and friends.

I am so grateful to everyone who held space for me while I was away. This is not an easy process for our loved ones but I know each of us who takes this journey relied heavily upon the strength of our families.

I am also so grateful to the producers and editors who did an amazing job at accurately capturing my journey. It is not an easy task with so little time but I feel they did a fantastic job at portraying me and my experience authentically.

Thank you for all the unbelievable support from the fans of the show too. It has been an honor to get to share the journey with you all. Please feel to follow more of my journey on Instagram.

M&C: So there are four left, what do you say to them ahead of this week’s show?

Callie: Good luck to Megan, Dave, Carleigh and Fowler. Warriors! So proud to walk this journey with all the amazing contestants this year.

Make sure to see our Alone tune-in on Thursday ahead of that night’s episode at 9/8c on History, with just Carleigh, Dave, Fowler and Meghan left in the running.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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