Week two of the Race begins in Iqueque, Chile, the city of eternal sunshine, situated on the edge of a desert and the Pacific Ocean. It’s pretty amazing. And it’s time to leave.
The teams depart around 3 in the morning, and they are sent to a historic ship. The ship doesn’t open until the morning, so they bunch up at the dock. Marie, the Ex with the pink hair, orders everyone to line up their backpacks in proper order. NFL mocks her authority, and one Afghan Cousin calls their team, “Pinky and No Brain.”
Express Pass Parts One and Two
While waiting, the Married team tells the Exes that it’s wife’s 40th birthday! Wouldn’t it be great if she got an Express Pass for her birthday? Marie is all, "No."
When the ship opens, the Afghans try to bypass the Exes, but the stairway is only so wide. Everyone finds the posted clue at the same time, and it tells them that they have to repeat a phrase in Spanish, but they don’t know the exact phrase.
Beards and Pink Ice leave the ship and ask a local on the street. He tells them the proper phrase, and they head back and repeat it to a crew member and get the clue. As they run past, Marie shouts, “Tell me where it is, I have an Express Pass!” Yeah, that promise loses potency if you never actually hand it over.
The teams taxi to a salt flat, which has the world’s largest supply of salt. The Detour is Mining or Brining: Mining means they break open boulders of salt with a sledgehammer until they find the clue inside. Brining means they add salt to tanks of water until they can float in it. Phil tweeted that each tank required thirty-three bags of salt to reach its saturation point, and each bag weighs sixty pounds!
The Beards say, “We do look good in bathing suits, but we’re much quicker at smashing stuff.” They choose Mining, and so does Pink Ice. The married couple chooses Brining, because, “what better way to start off your birthday than with a nice salt bath with your husband?” Team NFL chooses Mining because “it would take a lot of salt” to float them. Team Oklahoma chooses Brining because they carry sacks all day at their regular jobs.
Overachiever Amy quizzes her boyfriend, “Which floats faster, fat or muscle?” Jason: “Fat.” Amy: “Exactly. We’re all muscle.” Now, I’m no scientist, but I know that Phil mentioned the water reaching a saturation point, so I would guess that adding more salt after that wouldn’t make a difference. Ergo: it doesn’t matter what your fat/muscle density is, if the water is saturated. Am I right? Anyone? Also, “floats faster”? Really?
They have to bike to the Detour, which is notable because Pink Ice are slow on their bikes, and Birthday Wife falls over because she is not so good at biking. Oh, and while Bingo is biking, Shane keeps asking Rowan how he’s doing. Rowan: “I don’t want to talk, you’re using my air. If I want to talk I’ll ask.”
Both tasks are physically difficult. Ex Marie scoffs at girls with tiny arms who can only carry one bag of salt at a time. Scoffs! She carries 2-3 bags at once! Behold!
The Baseball Wives, possessors of the skinny arms, have to hug each other because they’re so cold. Their feeble arms are shaking!
The Bus Schedule of Deviousness — no, wait, The Bus Schedule of Confusion
After the salt mines, Teams head back into town to the bus station so that they can take a 1,000 mile bus ride to Santiago.
There’s a 1:30 express bus that holds the Daters, the Marrieds, Beards, Afghanimals, and NFL, and will take twenty-four hours. The next bus leaves at 2:00 and carries the Wives, Pink Ice, Team Oklahoma, and the Exes. The second bus is not express, so it takes about twenty-eight hours.
Team Bingo arrives at the bus station before 2:00, but they don’t want to take the slow bus. They’re told that there’s a 4:00 bus, and somehow they understand that it’s an express so they’ll get to Santiago ahead of the 2:00 bus. They get all tricky, then, telling the other teams that they couldn’t get other tickets, and they line up for the 2:00 bus. When everyone else is on, they tell the driver to close the doors and drive away, and you can imagine them screaming, “See ya, suckers!” while everyone inside wonders what’s happening.
Then, reality. When Bingo goes back to buy their tickets, they’re told that the 4:00 bus is still slow, and they wouldn’t get in until about 10 the next night. Not good. With sparse Spanish, they manage to get on a 3:00 bus that might not be super slow. Alas.
Express Pass Part Three
While on the bus, one Baseball Wife discovers that her husband played in the minor leagues with Ex Tim. Well, I’m glad Tim’s got more going for him than just being a gym rat who used to date Marie. Tim and Marie decide that the wives are trustworthy and nice, and they promise them the Express Pass. Without, you know, actually handing it over.
The Shoeshine Stand of Errors
In Santiago, in a busy Plaza, is a Roadblock. One person must go to a marked shoeshine stand, shine the shoes of a waiting patron, and then pack up everything correctly into the little stand and wheel it a few blocks to a storage shed. The stands are marked by the red and yellow laces of shoes tied onto the stands. Because the Race colors are red and yellow, you see.
Shining goes quickly for the first bus people. Some of them have to repack their stands, but there are no major delays.
For the second bus people, well, Marie has a fussy customer who won’t let her rush through the shoe shine. He actually wants polished shoes! Or maybe he’s just messing with her. And Wife Nicky forgets to pack up her rug.
Saddest, though, is Bingo. Their bus was right after the second bus! They see other teams shining shoes! So Rowan takes the Roadblock and finds an unmarked shine stand manned by a Chilean guy. Rowan politely, yet insistently, takes over the shoe shine. Then, with very little Spanish but with pleading in his eyes, he convinces the man to pack up his stand and go to the storage shed with him! When they get there, Ex Marie and Wife are there, waiting for OK to get his clue.
Shoeshine Man doesn’t have time to wait in line, so he tries to leave. Rowan pleads with him, begs for his mother and father. Marie sees him and just says, “No,” but Rowan tells the man that Marie is the devil. When Rowan finally gets to check in, his stand is rejected. The Chilean man mutters in Spanish, “I was working, he brought me here.” And then Rowan leaves him there as he runs back to find a proper shoe stand.
Wife Nicky didn’t have her mat, and she is sent back right before Bingo is sent back. She begs Marie for the Express Pass so that she’s not eliminated. Instead, Marie gives her a pep talk of, “Just get the mat and run faster than Bingo.” Marie later interviews that Nicky didn’t have anything to offer her, so she wouldn’t hand it over then. Good alliance! Nicky does manage to finish the task before Bingo.
Pit Stop Drama Again!
The Pit Stop is in a nature preserve. Phil, the Mountain Man Greeter, and the Mat are situated in the middle of a suspension bridge, high above a river. The Afghanimals find him first, but Phil gives them the dreaded, “However.” They didn’t settle things with their cab driver. They gave him some American money, but not enough. They are sent back, making way for…
NFL! Phil tells them that they’re the second team, and they are fine with it. “However,” and then they’re in first place and they win a trip and they’re ecstatic.
Afghanimals take second place. When Phil asks them what happened, they start arguing about counting money, exchange rates, and manners. I think they’re partly joking but mostly really mad at each other. Missing first place is rough.
The Beards are in third, and Phil tells them, “We got this guy [the bearded greeter] just for you.” Team Married is fourth place and Team Overachieving Daters is fifth.
For the next batch, it’s so dark that Phil has moved off of the bridge. I guess they didn’t want anyone falling off. Team Oklahoma is sixth, Pink Ice is seventh, and the Exes are eighth. When the Wives get to Phil, they practically collapse on him. It was a very physical leg. They’re in ninth so Team Bingo, alas, is eliminated.
Next week, let’s go to Portugal, okay? And get medieval? Spoiler alert: Marie’s alliance with the Wives falls apart. Join me!Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun