By Janell Sutherland
2:38 AM EDT, October 31, 2011
Seven teams are left racing around the world, and this week they travel from Thailand to Malawi.
Things I learned from the Race this week: Malawi has the happiest warehouse workers in the world, cabs are tricky, and women should know how to sew if they want to catch a husband.
All teams are on the same flights across the ocean to Africa, and their order seems to be determined by their seat in the plane. Basically, everyone is bunched up except for Amani/Marcus and Grandma/Grandpa, who get stuck in traffic caused by an engagement parade. Note: if you get engaged, you’re allowed to have a slow procession through the streets of Malawi.
The first task is a Roadblock. Malawi earns over 60 percent of its income from tobacco leaves. Sure, Phil mentioned that, but it was Cindy who broke down the statistic. Her need for information is adorable.
Anyhow, the Roadblocker must go to a tobacco warehouse and transport ten 200-pound bales of tobacco through a maze of tobacco bales using only a short dolly. The warehouse is staffed with at least 100 men, some of them running tobacco bales and obstructing contestants, some of them perched on stacks and singing and cheering. They are having more fun than any American warehouse worker has ever had, I bet.
Teams finish the Roadblock in the same order that they started, which means Marcus is last. He is about six inches too long for his jumpsuit and the dolly, but he makes it work. As he leaves, all the workers surround him and walk him out of the warehouse, still singing and dancing. I think Marcus almost doesn’t mind being last because of that, although he mentions that he’ll be glad to visit a “big people” country.
Next up is a Detour, where the teams either use a manual sewing machine to sew some seams, or build two toy trucks for schoolchildren out of milk cartons and bottle caps. The tasks seem to take the same amount of time, but we learn something important.
Women should sew. All women. Really.
Zac’s dad, Laurence, comments that the women will pass them at the Detour because of their excellent sewing skills, so he chooses to build the trucks. It seemed like a throwaway comment, but while building the trucks he brings it up again. He specifically asks Sandy why she’s building trucks, since she’s a woman and should be sewing. Sandy, a nurse practitioner, mentions that she can sew up bodies but not clothing.
Laurence warns Jeremy that he might want to think twice about getting engaged to Sandy, because then he’d be stuck with a woman who can’t sew. My husband is stuck with a woman who can’t sew, and every day he laments, “Woman, I wish you could sew me some pants!” If only he’d talked to Laurence beforehand.
Why is their taxi cursed?
Marcus and Amani could not catch a transportation break. First, they got caught in the engagement parade. Then their taxi delivered them to the wrong place before the tobacco warehouse. While they were fighting their way out of last place, their cab broke down on the way to the Pit Stop. I was really enjoying their relationship this episode, so I was not pleased with their non-luck for this leg.
Quotes from non-snowboarders
Because their best line was about how they’ve never been to Africa because there’s no snow. Instead, I give you:
Cindy’s not that high strung
While carrying the wooden bed with slats, Cindy tried to balance it on her head. Alas, her head was not strong enough, and she fell down, getting trapped underneath it. She and Ernie burst out laughing. “You’re in African jail!” Yeah, I like them.
The final breakdown
It’s Justin and Jennifer for the win! Except not, because they failed to pay their truck driver before they schlepped beds across the African grassland. So the Snowboarders are back in first place. The siblings make it back right before Grandma and Grandpa, the tough farm laborers who also forgot to pay their driver, so they turn around. Then it’s Jeremy and Sandy in third. Dad and Zac are fourth, Ernie and Cindy are fifth. It’s almost a race between Grandma/Grandpa and Amani/Marcus, except that Amani and Marcus are carrying wooden beds and Grandma and Grandpa aren’t. Amani and Marcus are the last to arrive, but wait! It’s another non-elimination! Whew.
I think I’m attached to all the teams in one way or another. These endings are going to get rough. Let’s hold hands and prepare ourselves.
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