After dozens of episodes in glossy Europe, The Amazing Race finally trekked into the Third World — er, developing nation — as it headed to wonderful Oman, not to be confused with Iman. This was a big deal because for the first time, I believe, the show had ventured into the heart of the Middle East. Granted, it was no Iraq, but the mere presence of so many mosques and Muslims was probably enough to send the Red States into panic mode. Fear not, people. The terrorists have not won. You really think Phil Keoghan would go down without a fight? Unfortunately, we didn’t get a huge glimpse into the world of Oman, but we were able to make some interesting observations. 1) The cities are very clean. 2) Some of the rural roads have a few flooding problems. 3) Some of the rural roads are really confusing. 4) Some of the rural roads aren’t roads at all. 5) It’s really hot. 6) McDonald’s really is EVERYWHERE.Before we got to the Middle East, however, we still had some loose ends to tie up in Greece. We began the episode at the Fortress of Rion, which served as the Pit Stop on the last leg of the race. First out of the gate were Jeremy and Eric who happily learned they’d be flying to Muscat, Oman where they’d have to find a giant incense burner for their next clue. They seemed quite delighted, probably because the promise of incense meant that they’d no longer have to smell the stink of their Hippie allies.
As the two frat boys galloped off to a visitor center on a nearby bridge (where they were to sign up for a charter bus to the airport), Jeremy indulged his ego a bit by saying, “I think the other teams are used to tasting our dust. They probably have mud in their mouths by now.” I’m not sure it was mud, but after seeing these photos, I’m sure something was in their mouths.
Anyway, the two lovably buffoons arrived at the visitor center, but guess what? It didn’t open until morning. Another shocking development! Fast forward a few hours, and we then found Jeric signing up for the first charter bus at 9 AM. Meanwhile, Team Mojo left the Pit Stop next, and true to form, we then saw the two talking to the camera while sitting on top of each other. Seriously — could they try separate seats? Just once? Oh wait. Never mind. I forgot that Monica doesn’t know how to operate a chair. (She always falls off and cries.)
Ray and Yolanda were next out of the gate, and even though there was a GIANT suspension bridge in front of them, they weren’t quite sure if it was the same bridge that the clue had directed them to. Exactly what other bridge could it be? It’s not there was a Japanese Tea Garden nearby with like twelve dainty foot bridges spanning a koi pond. And if there was, my bad. Anyway, the couple hiked over to the suspension bridge, and somewhere along the way, things went sour. You see, they were having some jokey banter, but apparently, that’s all they do, and amidst this, Ray, I guess, crossed the line. Next thing we (and Ray) knew, Yolanda was telling her man to stop cussing. Granted, she wasn’t being very nasty about it. She was fairly direct and even-keeled, but that didn’t stop Ray from giving her the finger behind her back. WELL. Turns out that Yolanda has eyes in the back of her head, and she caught him shooting her the bird. That did not make her happy, and justifiably so. Yolanda snipped at Ray again, and let’s just say, he’s no Nerd. Whereas Dave probably would have suddenly sobbed in Lori’s arms, Ray simply rolled his eyes, mumbled something, and eventually said, “Just remember, I’m a grown man.” Oh, and by the way, I had no idea what these two were fighting over.
Well, bickering aside, Raylonda (as well as Mojo) wound up on the 9 AM bus with Jeric, and back at the Pit Stop, our favorite elders, Fran and Barry, were discovering that they’d be flying to Oman, or as they called it, “Omen.” With the sun rising, the two ran off to the visitors center and also wound up on the 9 AM bus. Okay, basically everyone wound up on the bus except the Hippies. Yes, BJ and Tyler just barely missed it, which kind of sucked for them as they were then stuck on the 10 AM bus. On the plus side, this meant they’d have to stand out in the rain longer, and I think we can all agree that they could use a fresh rinsing.
Over at the airport, Frankenberry found some information about a flight to Oman, but being the tough cookies that they are, they refused to help anyone out. “WE WILL NOT SHARE THIS INFORMATION,” Barry said, sounding quite a bit like Hal the Robot. Or a male Julie Chen. Nevertheless, despite their attempts at secrecy, Fran and Barry’s blatant running through the terminal gave everyone a heads up as to where to go, and soon everyone was clamoring for tickets at the Gulf Air ticket counter. “I’m already sweating,” Barry then said. I’m sure that sweater he had on under his shirt wasn’t helping…
Meanwhile, out on the road, the Hippies were having a great time on their private charter bus. They said that they were traveling with the ghosts of the other teams, and with that BJ then did a really, really impressive Lake impression. It was hilarious. You had to be there. Ahhh… He then impersonated Dave and Lori, and on cue, the producers inserted the patented Nerds In Love clarinet music in the background, which I deeply appreciated. Finally, BJ finished his comedy routine by making fun of Danielle and Dani, and again, he hit the nail on the head. Well done, BJ, well done. My respect for you has increased.
Amazingly enough, the Hippies arrived at the airport while everyone was still trying for tickets at the Gulf Air counter. What had everyone been doing for the past hour? Had they all stopped for Starbucks? Or as it’s called in Greece, Starbucksapapaloupalous. Anyway, everyone wound up on a Gulf Air flight arriving in Muscat at 10:50 PM. Well, not everyone. There weren’t enough tickets for the Hippies, who gave Mojo and the others a surprising dose of passive-aggressiveness and then wound up on a later flight on Qatar Air. I guess it’s not so easy to be goofy and silly when you’re in last place. Of course, true Hippies would have just gone with the flow, man. But then again, true hippies would have spaced out and wandered off the race back in Brazil.
Anyway, that night, the first flight arrived in Muscat, and almost immediately, Jeremy and Eric were in the lead. How do they always do that? Well, as the two drove to that giant incense burner, they took some time to admire the city, noting how everything was so clean and “pretty.” They then passed a McDonalds, and as I felt a pang of Westernized guilt, Eric commented, “Cleanest looking McDonalds I’ve ever seen.” It may have looked clean, but it was dirty with the blood of the INFIDELS!!! Sorry, I’m being stereotypical and mean. My inner liberal is ashamed.
Elsewhere on the road, Ray was having quite the difficulty reading the road signs. “They’re all squiggly,” he said, referring to the Arabic. (It was a lot funnier when he said it.) I kind of wanted to point out the English written directly under the Arabic, but then I remembered that I couldn’t communicate through my TV, and so I settled down and returned to being a passive viewer.
Meanwhile, BJ and Tyler’s flight arrived, and we soon found out that they had made a friend on the plane. Some local — who was not nearly as cool as Jeric’s buddy Johan from Germany — agreed to take the Hippies to the incense burner. Funny how people are so eager to get the Hippies there. Anyway, Jeric arrived at the park first, but guess what? The gates wouldn’t be open until 6 AM. The equalizer strikes again! Eventually all the teams (including a VERY sweaty Barry) arrived, and one by one, they each made gaga comments about how wonderful the giant incense burner was. Yes, yes. We know. It’s cool. WE GET IT.
As they waited for the gates to open, Raylonda carried on the bickering torch left by Lake and Michelle’s elimination last week. Yolanda was STILL pissed about the cussing, and Ray was still annoyed that she was making such a big deal about it. Finally, Yo-Yo (my new nickname for her) declared, “Just don’t talk to me for the rest of the time.” Aw. I like these two. I don’t want to see them fight. We then learned that in their entire five year relationship, they’ve never spent more than FOUR days together. How can that be? They’ve never taken a trip? Hung out at the holidays? You’d think they’d try to, you know, see each other once in a while.
The next morning, the gates opened up and everyone had to climb up a steep hill to the burner, causing Fran to kvetch about her back. She managed to survive, however, and teams then learned they had to drive 135 miles to the town of Sur. Phil explained that this place used to be a center of trade, but “It’s now a sleepy fishing town.” There’s something about Phil saying “Sleepy fishing town” that I just find endearing. I imagine him decked out in overalls, sitting in a rocking chair, blowing a harmonica, and asking Bobby Joe if he’s caught any trout lately.
The teams all hit the road, and yes, Raylonda were STILL bickering. Mojo, on the other hand, were busy getting directions. “Do you know how to get to Sur?” Monica asked a random guy. If it had been me, I would have been totally going up to people and saying, “Do you know how to get to Sur, sir?” “Sir, where’s Sur?” I have a slight addiction to puns and wordplay. I apologize.
Anyway, Mojo and the Hippies wound up in front of the pack, and en route to Sur, they encountered a massively flooded portion of the road. Luckily, there was this cool little guy who was there to guide all the cars through the water. The entire bowled over the Hippies, who said, “This is just magical.” Not really. It’s just a flooded road. If this had happened in Connecticut instead of Oman, it wouldn’t be nearly as noteworthy. Then again, these two probably write letters to their loved ones every time they drive through a puddle. “Dear Matilda: Today BJ and I drove through a puddle. The experience was indescribable. It was as if God himself had stopped the world and said to us, ‘Young men. THIS is what life is about.’”
Monica’s reaction to the flooded passage was much more typically patronizing. She absolutely loved the little man and said, “I just want to pick him up and take him home in my pocket!” Yay Third World!
Meanwhile, guess who was lost? That’s right. The perpetually navigationally-challenged duo of Ray and Yolanda were completely confused. All those squiggly signs were messin’ with Ray’s head. They immediately fell to the back of the pack, and up at the front, the Hippies and Mojo encountered yet another flooded portion of the road. Gosh, for a desert nation, this place sure had a lot of irrigation problems. Anyway, this next watery obstacle didn’t come with a convenient little helper man (sorry Monica), and so the teams had to brave it themselves. One problem: no one wanted to brave it. The Hippies and Mojo were both afraid of getting stuck. They lined up side by side and dared each other to go first, but no one would make the first move. Soon Frankenberry joined the fray, and they too held back, waiting to see what the others would do. Surely no one would be so stupid as to risk everything by getting stuck in that water, right?
Enter Jeremy and Eric who brashly just sped past everywhere and plunged right into that water. I kind of hoped they’d get stuck, but I was also glad that they were the only ones who were willing to just go forward. Well, once everyone saw that it was safe to make this river crossing (this was SO Oregon Trail), the teams all revved up their cars and drove forward.
“Is this the most awesome chocolate surprise you’ve ever had?” Tyler asked, regrettably bringing all sorts of fecal images into my mind. The last thing I want to think about are the Hippies in any sort of scatological scenario. Especially if it somehow is related to this photo:
Meanwhile, Monica wasn’t too pleased with Jeric’s brash river crossing. “Eric and Jeremy sometimes just like want to be first so bad that they just cut in front of lines,” she complained. Uh, Monica, you guys weren’t moving. You’d been sitting there forever. And had they not cut the line, you’d still be there. Nevertheless, everyone zipped through and headed down the road. A little later, Ray and Yolanda approached the same flooded area, and as they fearlessly drove through, Ray commented, “It’s like driving through the middle of the desert.” Uh, that’s EXACTLY what it is. I can just imagine him driving in Los Angeles. “It’s just like driving through Los Angeles!”
By the way, let’s take a moment to reflect on how wonderful it would have been had Lake and Michelle been around for this leg. First, they’d be making all sorts of insensitive remarks about the Middle East. Secondly, you just know that Lake’s head would have exploded with joy when he had to speed through the water. In fact, if you listen real closely, you can almost hear a “KAN-KO-WEEE-GO!!” on the wind…
Eventually, the teams arrived at Sur where they found this leg’s Detour: Camel or Watch Tower. We then cut to Phil walking perilously close to the edge of a pier. There was no threat of a PhilDeath™, but maybe a Mini-PhilDeath™. Or more likely, a PhilSplash™.
Anyway, in “Camel,” teams had to use a block and tackle system to load a camel into a pickup and drive it to a Bedouin camp. One might call this a Camel tow, yes? In “Watchtower,” teams had to search three watchtowers for a message box that they’d then have to deliver to a silver shop a mile away. One catch: not all the watchtowers had message boxes. So yes, there was a chance that teams could search all along the watchtower and come up empty handed. (Sorry, I was really dying to get an “All Along the Watchtower” line in there. Forced, I know.)
Well, the Hippies, the oldsters, and Mojo all took a boat out to the watchtowers while Jeric opted to have fun with the camel tow. I think everyone thought the camel would be stubborn and difficult, but turns out that this challenge was pretty simple. Jeremy and Eric easily raised the camel up while over at the watchtower, Monica and Joseph struggled to find a message box. Frankenberry and the Hippies, however, found their boxes quite easily and were soon en route to the silver shop (where BJ revealed a pretty impressive sketch of a camel). Back with the frat boys, Jeremy was totally amused by the camel. I’m sure he felt a certain sort of kinship. They did, after all, get the same grades on their SATs.
Exasperated with the whole Watchtower experience, Mojo gave up and headed to the camels, and as for Ray and Yolanda. Well… where were Ray and Yolanda? They must have gotten really lost. Anyway, Jeremy and Eric drove off in search of the Bedouin camp, but they somehow made a wrong turn and wound up in some dusty corner of the country. Things I wouldn’t want to be: lost in the Middle East.
Back at the silver shop, Frankenberry handed in their message box which meant they were unbelievably in first place. Wow. I never thought they’d ever come close to such a position. Good for them. Now let’s watch as they run past the next clue box forty five times. Anyway, the next destination on the race was Al Hawiyah (what? You’ve never heard of it? Get educated, man). The old folks and then the Hippies zoomed off for their next challenge, and back in the boondocks of Oman, Mojo managed to eclipse Jeric and deliver their camel to the camp first. The fratboys, meanwhile, were completely and utterly lost. “I think we’re going to drive until we’re dehydrated and die,” Jeremy said. Uh, chances are the car will give out before you’re dehydrated. That is, unless the car was some sort of food-powered neo-Flintstones creation, but I don’t think it is.
Eventually, the guys managed to extricate themselves from Oman-ian oblivion and found the camp. Turns out the guys had missed a turn. “Man, we’re idiots,” Jeremy said, stating the obvious. Yeah, funny how maps can be helpful IF YOU USE THEM.
Meanwhile, Raylonda finally arrived at the Detour, and yes, Yolanda WOULD jump a bench like a hurdle on the way to the clue box. They opted for the camel tow (I just love saying that), and through the magic of editing, they completed the task in no time, hopefully putting themselves back in the mix. At the front of the pack, BJ and Tyler and Fran and Barry arrived at Al Hawiyah where they encountered this week’s Road Block. The question: “Who’s Willing To Work For Food?” Well, in this case, the answer to that was Barry and BJ (the name of some old gay porn, I’m sure) and the two got to work on yet another arduous treasure hunt (my favorite type of challenge). In this Roadblock, people had to dig through 117 mounds of dirt to find one of six Shuwas, which is a spiced meat that’s prepared in sack in underground ovens. Teams had to hang onto their Shuwas beacuse as Phil noted, it would be THEIR DINNERS!!! Or as I call it, PhilDinner™.
The guys got to work with their little garden trowel, and on the road, Mojo approached. “Please don’t be annoying right now,” Joseph told Monica at one point. C’mon now. That’s like telling the sun “Please don’t shine anymore.”
Anyway, Monica volunteered to do the Roadblock, and as she attacked her dirt mounds, she asked, “Why does it say ‘You’re digging into buried ovens?’” Um… because you’re digging into BURIED OVENS. It really can’t be much clearer than that. Well, as expected, Monica’s chipper attitude at the outset of the challenge slowly transformed into whiny petulance, which was paralleled by a random shot of an angry camel. Oddly appropriate. Luckily for Joseph, before Monica could totally devolve into spoiled baby territory, she found an oven, thus avoiding the second coming of the great Sicilian swordfish debacle of 2006. Also striking gold, or at least an oven, was Barry, but as for BJ, he was still searching away, the hot desert sun beating down on him. Remember that incense burner? Yeah, I’m sure everyone was wishing it was standing right over BJ at that moment.
Back on the road, Yolanda decided to talk about something new. And by “new,” I mean “the same old complaint.” Yes, it was round 75 of the Raylonda bout. “I am the girl you cussed out the other day that you still need to acknowledge,” she told Ray. Oy vey. Let’s just go back to the Roadblock.
With their Shuwa freshly obtained, Mojo then learned they’d be traveling 150 miles to Jabreen Castle, which was the Pit Stop for this leg of the race. Barry, meanwhile, could not get his Shuwa out of the oven for the life of him. Fran looked like she was about to have a conniption fit, but eventually, our hirsute senior successfully won the battle vs. the Shuwa. And let me tell you something: it was a battle. That Shuwa came out of the oven looking like it had just been mangled by a pack of roving wolves.
Seriously, what happened to his Shuwa?
Soon, Eric, who had arrived at the Roadblock not long after Mojo, found his Shuwa, and as he and Jeremy left, Raylonda arrived. Keep in mind that BJ was still searching through the dirt. And keep in mind that Tyler was still shouting annoying words of encouragement in an increasingly high-pitched voice. This eventually made BJ pissy, and he began complaining about how he always had to dig for things whereas Tyler got to do fun stuff like bungee jumping. That’s not true. Tyler’s had to do miserable things also. Like this one time, he had to take a shower, and that was like the WORST!
Meanwhile, Yolanda began digging for her Shuwa. Ray told her to get a pattern going, causing her to mutter, “Your momma got a pattern goin’.” Oh SNAP! Tell that one to Wilmer Valderrama! Yolanda: America’s new Queen of Zings.
While Yolanda was popping off yo momma jokes about patterns and whatnot, she found a Shuwa, which meant that BJ was the only one left without one. Ah, the cruel twists of the Amazing Race treasure hunt. I wasn’t too concerned for BJ because it was fairly obvious that this would be a non-elimination round. After all, we were long overdue, and it was a third-world country. Nevertheless, BJ toiled and toiled under the hot sun. I thought he’d been out there for like four hours, but then Tyler revealed it had only been like an hour and fifteen minutes. Okay, this is ridiculous. BJ was acting like he’d been slaving away for an eternity. It had only been 75 minutes! That’s nothing compared to season six when Lena unrolled bales of hay for like nine hours. Anyway, BJ finally got his Shuwa, and later, Tyler hugged him and said, “You did so good! You did so good!” Actually, not really. He did quite terribly and his attitude was shit. But I guess aside from that, he was awesome.
Well, knowing that they were behind Mojo and Frankenbarry, Jeric decided to take a shortcut and hopefully steal first place back. Personally, I wouldn’t take a shortcut in the middle of Oman, but then again, I have more than three functioning brain cells. And so Jeric veered off the highway onto a dirt road, surely embarking on their own Oman Chainsaw Massacre.
Elsewhere on the road, Yolanda was bickering with Ray again (sigh), and Fran was pining for first place. She knew it would be close with Mojo just barely ahead of them, but she had a plan: “I’m running as fast as my legs can take me.” Well, that won’t be very fast. Luckily for them, Mojo managed to get lost, and so in a great turn of events, Frankenbarry arrived at the Pit Stop first and won a trip to Rome. Yay! I’m not sure, but they might have been the oldest couple to claim first place this far in. I could be wrong though. Actually, I probably am. Phil would have said something, I’m sure. He always loves pointing out things like that. PhilStats™, if you will.
Thank God for Depends.
“Would you like a cookie?”
“A cookie? YES!”
With the sky darkening, a bitter and depressed Mojo finally arrived second (they must have gotten really lost). I thought Phil might try to cheer them up, but obviously he cares about them as much as the rest of us do (not much). Ray and Yolanda then took third place, and relationship counselor Phil asked, “Are you guys still in love?” Duh, Phil. Ray totally cussed at Yolanda. This relationship is OVER!
“And this here is my finest work: a six foot tall turtleneck made from alpaca hair.”
Elsewhere in the desert, Jeremy and Eric were totally lost, and to make matters worse, it was now completely dark. I swear, the sun is going to rise and they’ll be in Mecca. Short cuts in Oman: bad news. I actually started to think this would be the end of Jeric (assuming this were to be an elimination round, which it so clearly wasn’t going to be). Anyway, we then cut to the Pit Stop where Phil waited expectantly. Would it be the Hippies? Or would it be Jeric? Ah, such a great reversal of fortune. The two teams that have battled for first place all season now struggling for survival. Well, apparently short cuts in Oman are bad, but not as bad as a hidden Shuwa. Jeric arrived next, which meant the Hippies were last. In their typical fashion, BJ and Tyler arrived at the mat with energetic, annoying dancing, and guess what? It was non-elimination. I never saw that coming! Phil then took away all of the team’s money and possessions (which he hopefully BURNED), but Tyler wasn’t deterred. “We’ll be the humans we are and not the possessions on our back,” he said. “We’ll be just complete BJ and Tyler and nothing else.” Uh, how about you be complete BJ and Tyler and a stick of Right Guard. What do you say, Phil? Let them have some deodorant?
What did you think about this episode? Will Ray and Yolanda get over this bickering?