Our trekkers take off from steamy Bangkok, Thailand to the warm heart of Africa - Malawi. Once again, I’ll give the basics first then follow each team to the Pit Stop. There they open their envelopes finding $365.00 and their next destination – Malawi, Africa. At the airport equalizer, they discover all will be flying on Thai Airlines with a transfer to South African Airlines for the final miles.
They must fly across the Indian Ocean more than five thousand miles landing in Lilongwe, Malawi. There they must travel by taxi to a tobacco warehouse and at gate #7 they will find their clue to a Road Block – Transport Bale.
A team member must transport a bundled up bale of tobacco leaves weighing 200 lbs. using a short handle dolly. Once they have delivered 10 bales to the holding area at shed 19, the foreman will hand them their next clue; which is Route Info telling them to make their way to Memorial Tower and search for the next clue.
It lies in a bowl set on a cloth on the steps of the white tower and sends them into a DETOUR – All Sewn Up or Not Grown Up.
In All Sewn Up, the teams must travel to White Horse De-sign tailor shop in the heart of a busy shopping district (Old Market) and finish sleeve seams and pant seams for a new suit using an antiquated manual sewing machine. If the fit is correct, the customer will give them their next clue.
In Not Grown Up, they travel to Lilongwe Lea School where they must make two play trucks out of provided scrap materials (milk cartons, small dowel poles, bottle cap wheels, etc.) to match the one that is already constructed. When approved by the headmistress and tested by one of the children, the child will give them the next clue.
That clue takes them to the R-K Furniture Shop on a busy road where they will take two locally made wood beds, transport and then carry them to the Pit Stop at Kumbali Village, located in an isolated park preserve, where the women and men of the village sing and dance their welcome. They will need those beds for their overnight rest period at the village. At the furniture shop, they are to ask the manager to call for lorry transport.
Amani and Marcus
They arrive at the Bangkok airport in first position and leave the Lilongwe airport in fifth place due to having seats at the back of the plane. Then a line of cars on the road to the Road Block slows down their taxi. They miss the entrance to the gate and fall into last place.
Once they pick up the clue at gate 7 of the tobacco warehouse, Marcus decides to take on the Road Block challenge. The first thing is to get into an orange jumpsuit that isn’t sized for so large a man and he has to leave a snap undone around his waist. The next challenge is to wheel the short handle dolly, which causes him to stoop. He comments that running the bales down rows of stacked bales with the workers making noise and a few traffic jams along the way was pure chaos. Since Marcus is the last to finish, the workers jump from the bales and follow him, still singing, to join up with Amani. Marcus then leads the dancing men to the exit saying the moment is very special for him. There they help him strip off his jumpsuit and they are on their way to Memorial Tower and the next clue.
They discover a Detour and choose All Sewn Up hoping to make up some time. Once there Marcus decides to sew the seams on the pants and have Amani sew the seams on the jacket. They leave the tailor shop still in last place and take their taxi to find the R-K Furniture Store and their last task.
Bad Taxi! It breaks down and they help push it to the furniture store. Their beds are loaded on a lorry and they take off for the village. As they are toting their beds down the path to the village Bill and Cathi pass them going back to pay their lorry driver. However, Bill and Cathi once again pass them on the way back to the Pit Stop leaving their friends, Amani and Marcus, in the dust and last place. Another HOWEVER – an African Miracle occurs and this leg is also a NEL. They are saved to race again, though must complete a Speed Bump somewhere along the next leg.
Bill and Cathi
Along with Amani and Marcus, they also had seats in the back of the plane and are the last to catch a taxi to the tobacco warehouse. This hasn’t dimmed their spirits, though, because they are excited for the next adventure.
Cathi gives the episode title line by telling their taxi driver, “We love your country already. It is very spacious.” She then goes onto explain, “We are farmers from America so we like that.”
Because Amani and Marcus missed the gate, they squeeze into the Road Block ahead of them, making up a place.
Cathi tells us that the reason Bill is doing the Road Block is because there is no way she could make up time. Shifting bales proves no hardship for Bill as, being a farmer; he is used to bringing in the hay. A grinning Bill thanks the “captain” for the clue envelope, runs back to Cathi and they depart in sixth place ahead of Amani and Marcus.
At the Memorial Tower they choose All Sewn Up as Cathi is a seamstress and once at the tailor shop, she mans the machine while Bill mans the pedal that makes the needle move. Ooops, Cathi sews an entire seam without thread in the needle. Once that is corrected, they get a rhythm going and receive their clue in sixth place.
They take a taxi to the R-K Furniture shop, choose their beds and load them on a lorry ahead of Laurence and Zac. Cathi comments that living on the farm they understand hard work and though she’ll feel it, carrying the bed on her back had to be done. They make their way down the path to the village and would have hit the mat in third place, but they didn’t pay off their lorry driver, so must go back up the trail. Along the way back to the truck, they pass Amani and Marcus, but after quickly counting out 10,000 in currency to their driver, they jog back to the mat landing in sixth place to the village men drumming and the women singing.
Ernie and Cindy
They catch a taxi for the tobacco warehouse in third place, reminding their driver they are in a race. Ernie takes on the Road Block challenge appreciating the support of the workers on the bale stacks. He takes his 200 lb. bale around one corner and it falls off the dolly, almost taking him with it. Once he has pushed his 10 bales into their lane, Cindy comments on the workers, saying it is so happy in Malawi. They arrive at the tower in second place and choose the detour, All Sewn Up.
Unfortunately, their driver doesn’t know the way to the tailor shop and they arrive at the same time as Bill and Cathi. Both sew seams using two machines to make it go faster. They say that they are hoping to not use the Express Pass until much later in the game when it could be more critical. (They have until the eighth leg to use it.) Ernie gives up trying to work the sewing machine and gives the work over to Cindy because she normally holds the pants in their relationship. Cindy replies with an, “Oh, hey.” They dress their customer and leave for the R-K Furniture shop in fourth place.
They leave on the lorry in fifth place then hoist the beds for the trek to the village. At one point along the path, Ernie balances the bed on petite Cindy’s head and backpack, but…ouch…she falls backward and the bed’s slatted bottom falls on her top of her. She laughs while Ernie tells her that she is in African jail. He pulls the bed off and she bounces up ready to continue. Then Ernie accidentally kicks out a slat and has to repair it, but they soldier on and land on the mat in fifth place beat up and exhausted.
Justin and Jennifer
Jennifer feels about the race as if it were one of her Special Ed kids; she will fight for it. They grab the second taxi to the tobacco warehouse where Justin takes on the challenge. I think Justin ran into more people traffic – all wheeling the 200 lb. bales – than any of the other racers; but he fought his way through and in the end enjoyed the workers’ encouragement. They take off for the Memorial Tower in third place with Justin noting that none of them, save Bill, have any experience toting heavy a** bales. “It’s crazy.”
At the detour they choose Not Grown Up because Jennifer is a teacher and going to a school speaks to her. At the school, Marcus says that he is a physician and in surgery they break things down and build them back up so he studies the built model in as though it were something to take apart and put back together. I think Marcus’ disclosure is the most surprising thing I heard on this leg. They build their toy trucks and leave for the furniture shop in second place.
They receive their instructions at the same time as Jeremy and Sandy, but are able to secure a lorry for transporting their beds ahead of them. They struggle on the trail to the village, but hit the mat in first place NOT. They are the first of two teams who must return to the parking place to pay off their truck driver. They pass other teams going and coming, but run fast enough to land on the mat in second place.
Andy and Tommy
At the Lilongwe airport, they load up a Taxi and leave for the warehouse in fourth place. Laurence and Zac pass them so they enter the warehouse in fifth place. Tommy takes on the arduous task while Andy enjoys all the noise and singing of the workers, dancing around in place. They finish the task in fourth place and take off for the Memorial Tower just ahead of their running mates, Laurence and Zac.
For the detour they choose Not Grown Up because, as Tommy, says, they haven’t grown up, yet. Tommy has a young son and appreciates the home made quality of the toy trucks. He hopes to make one for his son, if he can remember how. After kicking around a soccer ball with the kids on their way out, they arrive at the furniture store in third place.
They ask the owner to call a lorry for them and when a green one shows up, they take it, much to the consternation of Jeremy and Sandy who think that one should have been theirs because they were there in second place. Driving off in the lorry, Andy says that it was green and could have been for anyone.
Carrying their beds they arrive at the mat directly behind Justin and Jennifer, but because of Justin and Jennifer having to go back to pay their truck driver, Phil waves them on the mat and awards them first place. They don’t jump up and down perhaps because once again they have won by default, but they are happy with the prize of a Travelocity trip to a private island for five nights in the British Virgin Islands. While they have been trying to position themselves for the finals, they are happy for a win. Andy gives a woo hoo to the villagers and says, “Stoked to be in Africa.”
Laurence and Zac
They catch their Lilongwe taxi in fifth place running right behind Andy and Tommy which is where they will place throughout this leg. At the warehouse, the older, overweight Laurence takes on the task of pushing bales through the aisles and as with Marcus, his overall uniform doesn’t quite close around the waist. Much winded, but with Zac marveling how well he does, he finishes and they head to the Memorial Tower for the next clue which is the Detour. They choose to go to the school as the women will be going to the tailor. They enter the school grounds at the same time as Andy and Tommy and Zac looks over to their nemeses every so often to check on their progress.
They arrive at the furniture store in fourth place and Laurence can’t figure out how they are supposed to load the beds. First he tries to get them in their taxi then they find a truck to carry them. Rather than riding in the back of the lorry like the other racers, their truck has a back seat and they drive off in comfort.
Carrying their beds down the trail, Laurence huffs and puffs and Zac waits for him. They arrive in fourth place and an exhausted Laurence sort of hugs the woman acting as the village greeter.
Jeremy and Sandy
They have an amazing leg, at least for the first 2/3. They are first off the plane to catch a taxi to the tobacco warehouse and Jeremy elects to push those bales. Though it was hard work, Jeremy says he was loving the Road Block because those guys (the workers) were obstructing the way and yelling, but to experience what goes on here was incredible, it was awesome.
They leave the warehouse in first place, pick up the Route Info at the tower and arrive at the school still in first place. Sandy thinks the children are adorable and would rather be playing soccer with them than building the toy truck, but she perseveres and they leave the school for the furniture store just behind Justin and Jennifer. A mix-up in lorry orders pushes them back into third place and with much struggling along the trail carrying their beds, they manage to come in with a third place finish at the mat.
1.Andy and Tommy
2.Justin and Jennifer
3.Jeremy and Sandy
4.Laurence and Zac
5.Ernie and Cindy
6.Bill and Cathi
7.Amani and Marcus (Recipients of a NEL)
Once again First and Last place finishers have been upended.
Andy and Tommy have never been to Africa mainly because there is no snow. Not true you two as Expedition Impossible proved on their trek through Morocco.
Amani and Marcus have a special needs child and Marcus has learned patience. They appreciate the small milestones and translate that to the race. They are excited to be in Africa as they had hoped this is one place they would get to go.
Cindy admits they’ve been making mistakes every single leg of the race except for the first one. Ernie agrees that mistakes on the race are inevitable, but they try to minimize them.
Laurence lets us know that he is feeling his age and mentions it often, while the much older Bill continues to laugh and smile through any pain he may be feeling.
Jeremy and Sandy have been dating for about eight months but had a strong friendship prior to dating. Jeremy thinks that transition from friendship to dating is hard. This race is to figure what their relationship is really all about.
According to Cindy, over sixty percent of Malawi’s income comes from tobacco.
Justin and Jennifer have never been to Africa and say there is a lot to take in visually…they are just going to enjoy it.
It might be noted that none of the women remaining on the race took on the tobacco bale challenge.
At Transport Bale, the workers cheering on the team members by singing and dancing on the stacked bales wear re-breathing masks around their necks so are probably from the drying and chopping sheds and are there to watch the spectacle.
Jennifer thinks the bale warehouse smells like her father, a good memory of home.
Andy at the warehouse: You gotta dance, we’re in Africa!
Marcus chooses the tailoring detour because both his grandmother and mother are sewers and he has seen it done.
Teaching and kids is Jennifer’s whole life and that is why they choose the Not Grown Up challenge.
Jeremy tells us that he has a six year old son and seeing the kids at the school makes him miss him like crazy.
Laurence thinks all the women will head for the tailor shop because that is what they do. When he sees Sandy at the toy construction, he tells her he thought she would be sewing. She informs him that though she is a nurse practitioner, she sews bodies, not shirts. Immediately Laurence pricks the palm of his hand with scissors and receives no sympathy or help.
Previews show them still in Africa and once again riding bicycles. I bet they can’t wait to ring those bells.
P.S. For more African adventure, check out the History Channel’s Around the World in 80 Ways also on Sunday nights. You will find one of the two travelers to be Survivor and TAR veteran Rob Mariano who travels with Monster Trucker (I can fix anything under the hood) Dennis. They have made their way from west to east and the next stop is the island of Zanzibar off the east coast and the birthplace of Freddy Mercury.