This episode took my breath away and had me reaching for my inhaler. The nine teams remaining traveled from Brazil to La Paz, Bolivia, a high altitude city at 12,000 feet above sea level. Viewers were spared any airport drama as the action skipped over flight arrangements to show teams arriving in La Paz. They were directed to a statute of Simon Bolivar where they would spend the night on the street. What looked like locally made blankets were provided to add comfort and color but really how awful must that have been to sleep on pavement while adjusting to the altitude! The next morning when a stack of newspapers arrived, teams grabbed them and started searching inside for the clue that would direct them to their next location.
At the beginning of the episode when Phil announced that one team "may be eliminated" tonight my family guessed at who it would be. We chose the Blonde Belles because of their poor performance so far. When they were the last team to find the clue for a "hat sale" in the newspaper, I thought this episode would be pretty predictable.
How wrong I was. Departing from the store with a traditional cholita hat, Mark and Bill failed to read the clue correctly. They took a taxi to their next destination rather than proceeding on foot as directed. Oh no! This was the team I lauded last week as the "smart ones".
Sarah and Terence on Bolivian bikes. photo credit
After purchasing cholitas, teams had a detour choice of walking through the streets with a marching band or taking a bone rattling bike ride. Warning - a U-Turn was ahead. A U-Turn is a chance to select another team (arriving after you) to perform the other detour option as well.
The Frat Boys and Blonde Belles chose the musical option and seemed to have an easy time of it. Everyone else opted for the faster but riskier bike ride. Twice riders took nasty spills and Christy was injured slightly. Would the divorcees end up being U-turned? It looked for a minute as though they would be as Nick and Starr debated it only to choose against it in the end. No team used the U-Turn option this time.
Nick in the ring. photo credit
At the Roadblock, teams turned in their cholitas and chose one team member ready to "pick a fight". It turned out that the racers would be fighting a woman in a mock wrestling match! Tee hee. After being coached on a routine with six different manuevers, racers wore a colorful costume to perform in front of a large crowd. If they were successful in performing all six moves correctly, they received their clue. If not, they were thrown out of the ring to receive more coaching.
Ken was at the arena first and he made it look easy! Ken and Tina breezed to an assured first place finish. In contrast, Bill struggled with altitude sickness and had to use an oxygen tank. I wondered how walking in La Paz instead of riding in a taxi would have affected him. Mark and Bill arrived next to last at the Pit Stop but had to sit out a thirty-minute penalty for their mistake. This allowed Christy and Kelly to remain in the race as they arrived just before the penalty had elapsed. Mark and Bill were eliminated - drat, I was really sad to see them go.
Amazingly, the Blonde Belles came in as team number four - their best finish so far. They really surprised me. I'm also reevaluating Team Kids (Nick and Starr) as they seem to be creating unnecessary ill will on the race. Last week Nick burned Andrew at the roadblock and this week Starr created conflict with Kelly and Christy. We'll have to see if karma comes around to haunt them further down the road.
If you missed the episode, check out Reality News Online's full recap or the CBS recap.