In this leg we will discover that being in the pack behind the first place runners has its advantages; but, to start at the beginning…Andy and Tommy don’t have to wait until they get home to order the customization of their new Mustangs, but go online to do so while the other teams curl up in cozy sleep capsules in the Atomium. At 3:46 A.M. they stand on the mat holding a large cardboard box and rip open the clue. The clue directs them to don the costumes in the box then find a man dressed as the comic book character Tintin (product placement: originating in Belgium, this popular character has an animated movie coming out in December.) Once dressed in Charlie Chaplin-like outfits they have to figure out that they are really portraying two detectives in the comic book series….either Thomson and Thompson or Dupont and Dupond or Johnson and Johnston. They are then to find Tintin in front of his mural at the train station and tell him who they represent. Easy enough if you know the comic book series, not if the first character you find on a computer is Charlie Chaplin in the Little Tramp.
Andy and Tommy are not comic book fans and at that early hour of the morning don’t even know where to start. They try first by asking some young men lounging on a curb who are probably too far out of it to have a clue, then a well-dressed young man tells them they look like Charlie Chaplin so they head for an internet connection and look at pictures and decide yes, they look like Charlie Chaplin. While Andy and Tommy search for a comic book store, Jeremy and Sandy get their costumes and instructions. They have much better luck with the early morning curb sitters as they know about Tintin and tell Jeremy and Sandy which characters they represent. The next pair to dress up – Ernie and Cindy – also have good luck with the young men on the street and write down their character names and that they are detectives.
Amani and Marcus dress up an hour after Andy and Tommy, and Marcus is really in football competition mode this leg. This leg is like the playoffs to him and while he has been to three of those, he has never made it to the Super Bowl. The plan is to beat just one team and they go to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Jeremy and Sandy reach Tintin with the correct answer first, open their clue and find that they are to travel to Panama City, Panama. Andy and Tommy show up as Ernie and Cindy are receiving their clue and, unfortunately for them, give their Charlie Chaplin answer and are turned away.
They go into scramble mode and head back to the internet store as Amani and Marcus find Tintin in his bright blue sweater and give him the correct answer. All three couples head for the train station for a ride back to Amsterdam where they catch a plane for Panama. Andy and Tommy finally figure out from the internet which characters they are supposed to be and race to catch up with the others at the train station. Amani and Marcus walk to the station with Ernie and Cindy and Marcus comments that maybe the boys are not in this one…maybe they will slip up and they’ve got them.
When the plane lands in Panama, Andy and Tommy are first to jump in a cab with an enthusiastic driver and, as night falls, head for the first destination, Puerto El Corotu, where they will find a long boat piloted by a native down the pitch black river to their next destination, Parara Puru, both in the Chagres National Park. Once they arrive they find a sign in sheet for start times in the morning spaced in 20 minute intervals. At this native village they will all get tattooed with charcoal tar and will discover the clue to their next destination, San Francisco Bay, within the tattoo. (This seems to be the leg of hidden word clues.)
They all play taxi race and we learn from Marcus that a dude back home gave him a black rock to give to Andy and Tommy for bad luck. Amani chuckles and points out that they have the rock and that causes Marcus to blink and throw the rock out the window of the moving taxi.
With Jeremy and Sandy right on their heels, Andy and Tommy set off on the river first and run neck and neck until Jeremy and Sandy’s boat gets hung up on a sandbar. Andy and Tommy are first to sign in for a 7:00 AM start time for the tattoo activity. They are followed by Jeremy and Sandy (7:20), Amani and Marcus (7:40) and Ernie and Cindy also at 7:40 AM.
After sleeping on mosquito netted hammocks at Embera Village, the boys run down to where women have prepared liquid charcoal ash into which they dip sticks for drawing or writing on the teams’ arms. Andy and Tommy get a 20 minute jump on the others, heading back down the river in a guided boat and find a taxi to take them to San Francisco Bay Towers where the clue box holds a Road Block: Walk on Thin Air. One team member must walk a tightrope from one high rise building to another one, collect a clue envelope and head back across the rope line to the original building. Their partners wait at the top of the second building and can yell out encouragement from there.
Jeremy and Sandy take off after Andy and Tommy followed by Ernie and Cindy and Amani and Marcus. All the cab drivers seem to know how to find the towers with Andy and Tommy arriving first. Andy, who hasn’t done the last two Road Block challenges volunteers to do this one and hits the elevator to the top as Jeremy and Sandy arrive. When they open their clue, they discover it says that Sandy, Cindy and Amani must do this task to even up the road block challenges with their partners. Sandy is frightened of heights but bites her lip and heads up the elevator without any histrionics. Good for her. Andy has no trouble hanging onto the harness wire while tiptoeing across the thin rope 368 feet above the ground.
After he attaches the clue envelope to his harness and calling the experience mellow, he sticks out a foot so Tommy can high five the bottom of his shoe.
Sandy watches Andy cross and once he disembarks, shakily climbs up onto the rope. Andy was just a little too mellow and had too much fun on the wire. While having his harness removed he can’t resist messing with Sandy who had told him she was scared of heights, telling her to look down. But, with much encouragement from Jeremy, Sandy makes the round trip crossing.
Andy and Tommy are first to open the clue sending them to the Ferdinand de Lesseps statue which sits under a rooster where they will find their next clue. Andy is still charged up from his rope walk and yells whoo hoo when they get into their cab.
Ernie and Cindy along with Amani and Marcus arrive at the towers as Sandy finishes. With Ernie cheering her on, a wobbly Cindy makes the crossing first then tells Amani she needs to walk like a duck across the rope. Amani makes it across by envisioning her kids at both ends because she knows she will see them soon. Sandy finds a driver who knows how to find the rooster and he tells the other cab drivers; thus the beginning of the chatty cabbies who help these three teams to find locations they need to complete the leg since they continue to communicate by walkie talkie once in the cabs.
Andy and Tommy find the statue first and find the clue for a Detour – Filet or Sole. In Filet, teams must carry seafood (in their hands and arms) from supply bins to individual vendors who are looking to meet certain weights of different seafood. Once they have correctly distributed the seafood, they will receive the next clue. In Sole, the teams must make a customer custom fit cutaaras (a sandal with leather strapping) and once approved as to fit and design, will receive their next clue.
Andy and Tommy choose Sole and get right to work measuring the customer’s foot and cutting the piece of leather. Jeremy and Sandy along with Ernie and Cindy also choose to make sandals and arrive at the market at the same time as Andy and Tommy are threading the leather straps and waiting for approval. They receive the clue first and are off to the next challenge. Amani and Marcus choose Filet and their driver gets a bit lost, but they get to the fish market, laugh about how they will smell, and work their deliveries in a smart and efficient manner.
The next and last challenge of the leg is the trickiest as the teams must observe the dancers on the Plaza de la Catedral and discover either the name of the Pit Stop (Panama Viego) written out as part of the pattern on the red and white dress worn by a dancer or a picture of it on a gold necklace all the dancers wear. What makes it hard is that the dancers wear many necklaces of balboas (currency that is also the name of the street leading to Panama Viego) and the swirling dance with full skirts only stops now and then so they can be observed.
This is where hubris meets the road. Knowing they are just barely ahead of the two teams at the sandal making stall, and not knowing where Amani and Marcus are in the standings, they rush, as they did with the Tintin challenge, and take the balboa necklaces to be the clue. They are in their taxi riding up and down Balboa ending at the Canal; they take in the view then try to get directions from the tourist center where the word balboa sends them to a statue of Balboa on Balboa Avenue. While they are scratching their heads, the other teams arrive at the plaza. Andy and Tommy drive past the statue and don’t see the Pit Stop so their taxi continues to drive into the city center and back to the plaza. They admit they missed the clue and hope that someone else missed it, too.
Amani and Marcus enter the plaza in second place and find the polera dancers. They have fun with the dancers, Marcus even going so far as to blot the sweat from a pretty girl’s forehead. They also notice the balboas, but Amani wonders if they would take them anywhere. The other two teams arrive as Amani and Marcus are trying to figure it out. Cindy is the first to notice the carving on the metal necklace draped down to the dancer’s waist, takes a quick sketch and they head for their taxi. Jeremy is the next to copy the drawing on the necklace and their driver tells them it is Panama Viego and takes off in that direction. Ah…just when they don’t want the cabbies to communicate, they do, and Amani and Marcus who think they need to go to the statue of Balboa like Andy and Tommy, get put right by their driver who talked to Jeremy and Sandy’s driver. All three are now headed to the Pit Stop.
Andy and Tommy arrive back at the Plaza when everyone else has left for the Pit Stop and finally notice the writing on the red and white skirt. Andy had noticed it the first time, but didn’t pay any attention to it. They hop back in their cab for the ruins at Panama Viejo.
The first taxi disgorges Jeremy and Sandy, the second, Ernie and Cindy and the third, Amani and Marcus. They hit the mat in that order…one right after the other with a lot of jumping and screaming excitement and cheering that the boys aren’t there and the three of them will be in the Finals.
For first place, Jeremy and Sandy win a six night stay in Turks and Caicos courtesy of Travelocity.
Phil: Andy and Tommy, you guys were unbelievable on this race, but you are the last team to arrive and unfortunately you have been eliminated. You guys raced hard and I thought you would be in the Finals for sure.
Jeremy and Sandy
Ernie and Cindy
Amani and Marcus
Andy and Tommy ELIMINATED
Follow the Bread Crumbs to an Elimination Finish
Marcus comments that maybe the boys are not in this one…maybe they will slip up and they’ve got them.
Andy and Tommy slip up as comic book characters and show signs of panic.
Marcus has a black rock to give to Andy and Tommy to create bad luck for them, though he throws it away.
At the boat embarkation, Sandy remarks about Andy and Tommy, “Shocker, they are always in front of us.”
Andy comments on the village experience with the welcoming music when they sign up first for the tattoos. “This is something we’ve never experienced before.” They wax on that staying in the hammocks overnight was in their top three sleeping experiences. It is almost as though they are speaking their own recap of their journey ending this leg.
Sandy says that the boys have luck on their side; she doesn’t know what it is about them, but they always seem to finish first. Sandy: Our goal today is to beat just one team. We don’t care if we get first place, but to get in the Finals.
Tommy has too much fun without keeping an eye on the goal during the rope crossing experience. It is almost as though first place hubris is beginning to set in.
Andy and Tommy rush through the final challenge when they should have taken more time to think it through and be more observant.
Heading down to Balboa Street, they say they just want to make finals.
Tommy (as they head for the Pit Stop) “Semi-Finals are tough.”
Marcus (on learning they are in the finals along with Jeremy and Sandy and Ernie and Cindy) “You know, Phil, I’ve been thinking about it and we’re like David and they’re Goliath and we beat Goliath.”
Andy: I wouldn’t change anything. We did our best today to find a clue, and we missed it.
The Final Leg takes place in Atlanta, GA and it looks like the geography task takes place on a climbing wall. That’s different.