Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fun Times in the Third World

"You're going to what?"

Hello beloved readers! Welcome to this week’s thoughts on The Amazing Race. Thank you everyone who submitted nickname suggestions for Ronald. You guys crack me up and I love reading all of your comments. I chose Moronald (Thanks TinkerBellAPixie!), mostly because I love how it rolls off the tongue and brain. It’s also very accurately descriptive. Loves it.

Before I begin tonight’s recap I simply must pause here for a moment and ponder over the ethics of parading a multi-million dollar affluent American television production through an impoverished country and then taking off without a backward glance. Not to be a stick in the mud, but this disturbs me. It’s like watching the kids from The Real World gallivanting through India and handing the starving children lollipops before heading off to their next Inferno challenge. Something doesn’t seem to add up, but it could just be my pesky conscience talking. I would feel so much better about all this if I knew that CBS donated something to the villages they visited – like building a new school or providing some sort of water piping system. If anyone has any info, I would love to hear it and rest easier. Now let’s do this!

We’re back in gloomy Amsterdam where Phil explains to us that Moronald busted a gut while riding a cargo bike at the end of last week’s episode. Literally – he gave himself a hernia. A Dutch doctor came to his hotel room and reduced the swelling by “pushing the tissue back into his abdomen.” Yummy! You know, what can I say? Karma has a job to do and I am not disappointed. Sucks to be you, Moronald – and you, Christina to be his daughter.

Turn your head and cough.

Anyhoo, Leg 2 winners Lorena and Jason set out first tonight and receive instructions to fly to Ouagadougou, a city in a small developing country in West Africa called Burkina Faso. Their next clue is waiting at the city’s train station. As they board the taxi repeating “baby” 167 times, Jason and Lorena tell us that now is the time for them to start working on some of their dysfunctional issues. Like the fact that Lorena turns into the little girl from The Exorcist when things don’t go her way. Charming. And speaking of dysfunctional couples, here come The Babies, Nathan and Jennifer in second place nitpicking and giving each other dirty looks all the way to the airport.

"How do I love thee?"

The LA Blondes have managed to slap on a little makeup and some super tight leggings as they set off and Jem and Rio discuss their gender reversal issues as if their appearances aren’t confusing enough. The siblings are overjoyed to be going to Africa since they are from Ethiopia (really?) and The Hippies pronounce their destination “Go Dog Go,” and then tell us about the Zen space they’re in. That’s fantastic, man. Please comb your hair. The sisters are acting like they’ve downed a couple of cappuccinos and vibrate their way onto a taxi and then Nick lets Grandpa Donald handle everything – again.

Presumably due to the huge tourist rush to Burkina Faso (yeah right) there is only one flight per day going there. The teams first have to get to Paris to catch the connecting flight to Africa and The Babies are pushing their agent to put them on a waiting list for an already-full 7:20 AM flight. I think their goal is to get onto the Burkina Faso flight an entire day ahead of the other teams.

Moronald and Christina are the last to head out and Moronald is giving us a monologue about regretting how shabbily he treated his dear daughter on the last leg of their journey. I’m pretty sure all he really regrets is that her fat butt tore open his abdomen as he tried to pedal her along. Also, I’m greatly alarmed to note that he seems to own a “Who’s Your Daddy” t-shirt in every color. Ew.

Lo and behold, The Babies have made it onto the 7:20 flight and have a 40 minute lead getting to Paris. Somehow I don’t think those 40 minutes are going to make a huge difference in catching the once-a-day flight to Burkina Faso, but I’m sure these two will find some way to turn it into a major argument. The rest of the teams are making it onto the 8:00 flight, but Moronald is forced to run through the airport with the tissue from his abdomen leaking out where it shouldn’t, or as Moronald puts it, his hernia is acting up. Yeah, they’ll tend to do that. Much to the disappointment of everyone, Moronald and Christina make the flight and everyone is equal again – except for The Babies who are first in line to board the flight to Africa. Jen is all excited to be in Paris. Yes, enjoy the airport, dear.

TROUBLE! The 8:00 flight has been delayed big time due to mechanical trouble. This is bad and very well may put everyone an entire day behind The Babies if they are delayed long enough to miss the Africa flight. We see The Babies boarding the flight to Burkina Faso and hopefully looking over their shoulders to make sure they are alone, but the delayed flight has landed and there are eight teams racing through the airport to make it onto that once-daily flight as well. The Babies put on their pouty faces and give each team a phony “Glad you made it!” as all eight teams file onto the airplane. Ha! Too bad, grumpy ones. Jen, it’s Nate’s fault. Nate, it’s Jen’s fault.

"I am going to smash his head in."

Here we are now in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. GDP per capita: One of the lowest on earth. Official language: French. I really hope there is a CBS production assistant riding along in one of the taxis throwing cash out the window. It’s the least they could do.

TV in Burkina Faso

Each team jumps into a taxi to head to the train station and the LA Blondes decide to try to barter up a lower taxi price. Ladies, these people are starving. I bet they’ve never had a facial or a manicure, so the least you could do is pay generously for a taxi ride. Or leave a seaweed mask behind on the seat. Anyway, they give their driver 5,000 francs and ask him for 2,000 back, but he doesn’t make change right away. One of the girls starts to wonder if he is taking them to be sold into white slavery. Oh girls, who’d want to buy you? Besides Ryan Seacrest, I mean.

The Babies arrive at the clue box first and discover that they have to travel to Bingo by train where they will find their next clue. Traveling to Bingo by train will require some brain power because they will be let off in the middle of nowhere, and will only know they are in Bingo by listening to the conductor call out “Bingo!” I’m afraid this will confuse the Blondes terribly, and they will be looking around for their game cards. In fact, they’re already confused because their cab driver is dropping them off at the train station and only giving them 1,000 francs in change. They keep yelling “Deux!” at him and holding up two fingers, but he just gives them a huge smile and keeps the extra 1,000 as a gift. I never thought I’d say something like this, but good for him. The little one shakes her head at the driver as they give up and get out of the car. It’s always good to try to teach lessons to the impoverished about taking an extra tip from rich people. And what he kept is about the equivalent of two dollars. Pick your battles, girls. I guess they just hear 1,000 and think it’s what every guy owes them. He giggles as he wishes them goodbye. A taxi driver once did something similar to me in Rome, but it was about 60 dollars and I somehow doubt the Italian guy was a hunter-gatherer in his off-hours. I still made less of a scene than these idiots.

"How can you say no to my boobs?"

Well wouldn’t you know it? As all of the teams arrive at the train station they learn that the ticket counter is closed until 6:00 the next morning. All that rushing around for nothing! How will they fill the hours until dawn? By dancing with the locals! The Sisters, perhaps still riding their caffeine high, are very pleased to participate enthusiastically in a tribal dance around a bonfire. As they shake their little Latina booties, Grandpa Donald gets excited and makes the following speech: “Boy, if I was a little younger! The Sisters, they’re hot. I mean, there’s no doubt about it. They’re feisty, they’re hot, a little bitchy, but not bad. A guy could learn to live with it.” Yes, I do seem to recall Nicholas mentioning something about Grandpa Donald talking about girls inappropriately, and now here we have it. One of the Sisters pulls Grandpa Donald up to dance with them and this, ladies and gentlemen, is the highlight of Grandpa’s Amazing Race. And possibly his life. He may have a heart attack and die on the spot.

Bright and early the next morning all of the teams board the same train to Bingo and begin commenting on the local smells. The LA Blondes start laughing about new perfumes and outfits from the Salon d’Afrique. Well, excuse the African poor people, ladies, for not having your brains and living in a city where you can make a career out of being arm candy. Not everyone is so clever. It must really smell bad because even stanky TK remarks on the odor, and you know it’s been a long while since he’s smelled anything but his own stench. Meanwhile The Siblings are remarking on how they feel like they are coming home and we are shown a small child covered in flies. Just film him, camera man. Please don’t disturb the realism by handing his mother some food or money.

At least one person notices the conductor shouting “Bingo!” and everyone piles off of the train into desert wilderness. The Blondes even stop feeling sorry for themselves long enough to disembark. Jem has to help Rio down from the train and Christina has to help Moronald and his hernia. The clue box is quickly located and Phil comes striding along to explain that this clue is a Road Block.

"Watch me block your road."

Remember, a Road Block is a task that only one person can perform. This one involves a chore commonly done by local nomads. Local nomads? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Whatever, the person who performs the task has to milk a camel, filling a bowl with milk up to a designated line and then drink the milk. They can’t spill the milk and if their camel goes dry, they have to wait for everyone else to finish and then use one of the other camels. This sounds pretty nasty. I’d let my partner do it while I found some shade. The teams are warned that camels are sensitive to fast movements and loud noises. Good luck, Nate and Jen. I’ll give you one guess as to whether Nicholas or Grandpa Donald does the Road Block. That’s right! Nicholas gets comfortable while Grandpa milks away. Yes, I know I just got done saying that I wouldn’t do this task either, but I also wouldn’t go on this race with a senior citizen for a partner knowing full well I was going to sit everything out.

My conscience is disturbed again. CBS has set up this Road Block and a task that is meant to be dirty and gross and you know they’re intently waiting for someone (or everyone) to throw up when they drink the milk, and for the local nomads, this is their life. They do this regularly – Phil even said so – this is how they live and we’re watching these Americans trying to stomach it once for our entertainment. Why do I want to cry? Ok, on with the game.

Jason lets Lorena do the milking and she is immediately terrified of the camel, who keeps kneeing her hands and knocking the milk out of her dish. The non-milkers stand around screaming at the milkers to hurry up and the local nomads stand around in the background starving. Please invite them to the craft services table, producers. There are lots of boob and nipple jokes and TK is maintaining his Zen state and calmly filling his bowl. Jason calls out to Lorena, “You can do it, Baby!” and I kid you not, the camel shakes her head at the camera. Well done, editors!

TK fills his bowl and gulps it down, retching along the way. He describes it as “a little grainy, a little sweet and warm.” One of the Blondes was noting earlier that there are bugs falling into the milk as well. Delicious! TK collects the next clue which tells him to lead four camels across a marked path along the Savannah to another group of nomads and find yet another clue. Grandpa Donald slurps up his milk and Nicholas stands by as Grandpa sets off with four camels. Just now Christina has filled her bowl and brings it over to one of the local nomads for his approval. The big LA Blonde also brings her bowl over, but it’s not even close to being filled to the line and the judge orders her back under her camel.

Not even close, sweetie. Try flirting more.

The teams who have finished with the milk are trailing along after The Hippies, assuming they know where they’re going. Moronald makes friends with his camels as Christina wonders whether they should really be following The Hippies and Moronald bites her head off. Well, of course it turns out that The Hippies had no clue what they were doing and everyone has to turn around. What do you have to say about that, Moronald? Not much, but he does admit he was wrong, so miracles do happen. Nathan finally fills up his bowl – half with sweat and half with milk, so The Babies get to start looking for the camel path.

Care for some fresh salt in your milk?

Lorena has almost lost her mind completely because her camel has run out of milk and she can’t get her bowl filled up without the camel kicking it out of her hands. Azaria is having similar problems. Lorena screams, “Baby there’s no more milk!” as if Jason could possibly do anything to help. The Blondes are having no luck and neither are The Sisters. Lorena screams again, “Miiiiiiilk, Baaaaabeeeeeeeeey!” Ugh, kick her again, Mrs. Camel, as we head out to commercial. We’re back to, “Baby there’s no more milk! There’s no more milk!” And Jason does this:

I bet he’s mentally picking out an engagement ring, what do you think? Azaria finally asks if he can try a new camel and he gets permission while The Sisters’ camel takes a big dump but produces no more milk. Can she drink the poop? Azaria joins a nursing baby camel (aw) and fills up his bowl while Lorena turns to cry at Jason after every squeeze of the teat.

The Hippies have made it to the clue box! Their next task is a Detour and here is Phil to explain. This Detour is Teach It or Learn It. Teach It involves teaching a local child who speaks no English the English words for 10 common items. The child must correctly recite all 10 words in one sitting. In Learn It, the team members have to learn the Möre words for 10 common items and recite those in one sitting. I thought they spoke French here, but I guess that is just the result of colonization. Again I feel exploited. We have to watch these poor children learn 10 English words and then be left in the dust? I’m repeating myself, so I’ll move on. The Hippies decide to teach, The Babies decide to learn, Jem and Rio decide to learn, Nick and Grandpa decide to teach and Moronald and Christina decide to teach. They all head off to perform the Detour, but no one can seem to find the school.

The big LA Blonde finally fills up her bowl and I can’t believe she is able to drink it all since it looks like she hasn’t eaten in the last five years or so. But somehow she does it and they set off with their four camels. The Siblings arrive at the Detour and decide to Learn It. They find a local child who takes them to the school. They decide to split up the words and each learn five – good strategy. Guess what The Babies’ strategy is. That’s right! To fight with each other. These little kids are precious – both the teachers and the learners. I really hope CBS makes a fat donation to what passes for their school. The Siblings burn through this challenge and receive the final clue telling them to proceed on foot to the Pit Stop, which seriously looks like an Ewok village, but on the ground. Hopefully there’s a spa in one of those huts for the LA Blondes.

"This way to African luxury."

It looks like there’s a tornado brewing and we still have some teams trying to milk camels! These would be The Sisters and The Bawling Lorena and Jason. The Siblings make it over to Phil and a nice African lady with a baby on her back standing out there in the rain to welcome them to her village. As their prize for coming in first, The Siblings win another romantic getaway – this time to Bermuda. Phil explains the lavish golf course and spa they will have at their resort while the African peasants look on and then turn to look at their straw huts. Any chance you’d like to donate that prize, Siblings? This is the land of your inheritance, after all.

"Uh, no. We'll keep our trip."

Julia finally fills up her milk bowl for The Sisters, drinks it, then throws up. They set off on their camel caravan and Lorena sobs anew. Her sobs turn to shrieks as Jason looks on helplessly.

"The milk is wet, Babeeeeey! Waaah!"

She finally moves to another camel and manages to fill the bowl without having it kicked over. She drinks it and then collapses, hysterical, into Jason’s arms. She asks Jason if he still loves her. Oh geez, insecure much? What’s going to happen when the mortgage is due?

Moronald and Christina finish exploiting their child and head for the Pit Stop, followed by The Hippies. The Babies finish and so does Grandpa, so Nicholas can wake up from his nap and walk with him to the Pit Stop. Jem and Rio also emerge from the school to join the others in what has become a mud swamp. The first four teams all make it at the same time to Phil as teams two through five. Grandpa and Nicholas are sixth.

The LA Blondes are at the Detour and I honestly can’t imagine how they are going to successfully complete either option. They clearly don’t learn. And I have serious doubts about their teaching abilities. They choose to teach and the big one does a lasso twirling motion while trying to teach the small African boy the word “cowboy.” Brilliant, brainiac. That should help a lot.

Try the Boot Scootin' Boogey. Or the Achey Breaky.

Meanwhile The Sisters are afraid that running might startle their camel caravan so they creep along, but Jason and Lorena take off running with their camels – of which there are only two – cheaters! The African boy saves the Blondes’ butts by quickly learning English and they run for the Pit Stop. When Phil welcomes them they burst into tears, noting that there is no nail salon in this village.

Please put them away. We get it.

The Sisters and Lorena and Jason both decide to Learn It, so it is a matter of who can master the words fastest. Here’s where the editing gets all clever and makes everything look neck and neck. Lorena and Jason finish the words first, but this segment is cut together to look like the teams are racing each other to Phil right down to the last second. They really aren’t and Lorena and Jason make it in plenty of time before the sisters. Lorena starts bawling that she couldn’t milk the camel right, boo, hoo hoo. Yes, we all saw and shared, Lorena. Jason explains to us that the reason Lorena is so emotional is because she is passionate. No, I don’t think so. Exhausted and cold? Yes. Immature? Absolutely. Passionate? Evs.

Awwww, here come The Sisters, Julia and Marianna. They hug and cry and tell us how glad they are that they came on this race together. I think these two look identical. I don’t get where Grandpa Donald thought one was better looking than the other. Another mystery of The Amazing Race.

Adios, hermanas!

All right guys, what do you think? Tell me all.

Thanks for reading!
-Honey Gangsta

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