Team Guido (right) just keeps getting more and more evil. Will it come back to haunt them, or will the follow in the footsteps of the evil Richard Hatch? Only time will tell.
With 6 teams left, this week’s leg of the race started from the town of Gabez in Tunisia. The teams had been “evacuated” from the last pit stop in the Sahara desert because of a sandstorm. As they set off, the envelope they received had pretty simple instructions: get to the Palace Hotel in Tunis. The first teams to leave, led by Drew and Kevin, found it very difficult to get a cab in the early hours of the morning. When the teams made it to the Palace Hotel, their next clue was to go to Rome, to the location indicated in a photograph. The spot was right next to the Coliseum (which was also in the picture) and that made two clues in a row that were complete no-brainers.
At this point Team Guido, Drew and Kevin, and Nancy and Emily (surprise!) were running in the lead as they arrived at the airport to book a flight to Rome. Team Guido were the first to arrive and they managed to get the last seat on a flight to Rome. Due to a strike at the Rome airport, the other teams found it exceedingly difficult to get tickets. As Team Guido were getting their tickets, Drew and Kevin were standing right behind them. Bill was trying to say something secretly to the ticket agent in French, and Drew got suspicious as he heard and understood Bill referring to “the other contestants.” Drew told Bill that he wasn’t the only one who understood French, and in a very joking manner said to Bill, “Better be careful, you don’t want your legs broke.” Bill responded (er, lied) “Don’t get so mad, I’m doing the work for you.” “No you’re not.” Drew shot back.
For a while Team Guido was the only team with tickets, but then Drew, by being persistent and charming, arranged to get on a flight – and then in an act of exceeding kindness (some would say dumbness) he arranged for Nancy & Emily and Rob & Brennan to also get on the same flight. Lenny and Karyn still didn’t have tickets, but they were advised to wait until the airport strike ended at 3pm, and possibly get a direct flight to Rome. This strategy paid off, as they were the only team to get a direct flight, and eventually were the first team to arrive in Rome. Frank and Margarita decided to settle on a flight to London, in hopes of finding a connecting flight there.
By the time the flights of the three teams (Drew-Kevin, Nancy-Emily, Rob-Brennan) were arranged, they had just 10 minutes to get through customs and board their flight. Here Team Guido (aka Bert and Ernie) pulled an exceedingly a**hole stunt. The positioned themselves in the line at customs, “As we see them coming, we’re gonna stop. It might just be one or two minutes, so let’s hold them up.” They then proceeded to haggle pointlessly with the customs agent (their flight didn’t leave until 2 hours later) and try to hold up the line. Joe kept blocking the line with his body and luggage cart. There was some pushing and shoving, and some words exchanged as the other teams grew furious at Bert & Ernie’s strategy.
As I said before, Lenny and Karyn were the first to make it to Rome. They made their way towards the Coliseum and found the route marker. The envelope contained a detour. They received a picture of two monuments. One was a huge foot, the other a man on horseback. The former was very easy to find, anyone in Rome would have been able to direct them, the latter was more obscure (Rome has more than it’s share of bronze statues), however, there would be cabs waiting for them there that might help them make up time. Unfortunately, both statues didn’t open until the next morning, so there was another bottleneck that pretty much evened all the teams up as they waited for them to open. All teams chose to go to the horse statue. All of the teams loitered around waiting for opening time, and there was some visible tension between Team Guido (their new and improved nickname is Sigfreid and Roy) and the others.
While everyone was waiting, Lenny and Karyn did some wandering and found that the other statue was already open. It said they were to make their way “by train” to the Pagani Auto factory, located in the town of Castelfranco Emilia. As the other monument opened, the other teams raced for the envelopes and took the awaiting taxis to the train station. Lenny and Karyn missed that train because of “production difficulties” (how many times is that going to happen?) and were given a time credit. During a stop in Bologna, Team Guido and Frank & Margarita decided to take a cab for the rest of the trip. This was a misinterpretation of the clue, however, as they were told explicitly to travel by train, and they later received a time penalty. I personally think this was a dumb rule, it should have been up to the teams to find their own mode of transportation, telling them exactly how to get from point A to point B is too easy and evens them up to much. Perhaps the production team wants the race to be closer, and consequently more dramatic. I also don’t like the fact that over and over again, a team’s advantage disappears in these constant hold-ups, such as waiting for the statue to open, or all having to take the same train. Anyway, the other teams stayed on the train, but when they got to Castelfranco Emelia they found that the whole town only had two taxis! Nancy and Emily stayed put as the other teams promised to hurry and send a taxi back for them.
Frank and Margarita were the first to arrive at the Pagani Auto factory, and there they received a roadblock. The clue was that they should choose the team member that “liked to take things slow.” Frank decided to perform the task. The Pagani Auto factory is famous for incredibly fast sports cars, including the $350,000 Pagani Zonda (http://www.fast-autos.net/paganizonda.html). Consequently, Frank must have been a bit put-out when he found that he would be making the trip to the pit-stop in a ultra-tiny two-seater Swatch car, built by Mercedes (http://home.planet.nl/~winfred/smart.html). The car is only 8 feet long, and gets 60 miles to the gallon! Frank’s only directions to get through the winding country roads to the next town came from a map written in Italian. He really surprised me when he ingeniously paid a cab driver to drive to the town and let him follow. The Swatch car had a top speed of 40 mph, so Frank puttered along but arrived in first place. At the same time, the team member who was left behind was carried to the pit stop in a Pagani Zonda at speeds of up to 180mph to the pit stop.
Team Guido arrived next, followed by Drew and Kevin. Karyn had real trouble negotiating the route, and arrived in last place. The fact that Lenny and Karyn had a time credit from the earlier delay didn’t save them – it didn’t have to. I was shocked to hear that apparently there will be three non-elimination pit stops in the race, and this was one of them. I wonder why they never mentioned these before? Perhaps it is a decision to stretch the season out longer with more episodes.
In the post-arrival interviews, most teams talked about what jerks Team Guido are. Even Frank is starting to seem like a nice guy by comparison. But all the teams acknowledge that Bert and Ernie are good competitors, and I am beginning to fear that the outcome of AR will be similar to evil Richard’s victory in Survivor 1.