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'The Amazing Race' recap: Salt Licked

"The Amazing Race" stayed Chile this week, salted and shined and taking care to avoid the lackadaisical street dogs who couldn’t care less that it was ER doctor's Nicole’s 40th birthday or that the remaining 10 teams got $589 on this leg of the race.

The playing field was leveled at the get-go as all teams had to wait out the night at the entrance of the Museo Corbeta Esmeralda ship deck for their next task — to find out the phrase Arturo Prat uttered before the ship was sunk, and to tell it to the ship official in Spanish. After an initial scramble that Shane likened to “rats on the deck of a ship” all teams were able to utter "Al abordaje, muchachos!" (“Charge the ship, men!”) without too many problemas.

That sent teams to the Irlanda Salt Mines for their next salty challenge: A Detour where each team had to bike to a salt flat that host Phil Keoghan described as “the world’s largest supply of sodium chloride” and choose between mining: breaking open honking salt boulders in order to find a clue, or brining: pouring enough salt into a chilly vat of water so they can not just float, but read the day’s paper (no doubt the Chilean mine workers’ favorite way to start their mornings).

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Bearded buddies Brandon and Adam got to the challenge first (with an able assist from Adam’s impressive command of Spanish). Even though they admitted to cutting a fine form in bathing suits, they thought they’d be quicker smashing stuff.

L.A. Kings ice crew girls Ally & Ashley started out mining, but quickly switched over to brining alongside most of the other teams after the salt rocks required too much Hulk smash strength to break. But even the brining proved a challenge, as the bags were heavy and the water was cold. Ambitious daters Amy & Jason put in so much salt that Jason “almost floated out of the pool.” Marie continued her quest to win TAR’s most grating and annoying competitor award when teammate Tim tried to use a metaphor of making lemonade from lemons to his ex. “Are we trying to float in a tub of lemonade?” Marie demanded. 

Then all teams had to bus it from Iquique to Chile’s capital of Santiago. There, they had to find the Plaza de Armas, take up a shoeshine station, sufficiently shine a customer’s shoes (Marie was on her last nerve trying to please Chile’s most persnickety teenage shoeshine customer), and then figure out how to put the cart together and deliver it to a central depot storage area.

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I was kind of hoping it would take a little more finesse and cunning to figure out where each compartment went, as most teams were able to figure this puzzle out without too much trouble. Those contestants who had jobs bagging groceries or moving furniture (former NFL-er Chester and oil refinery worker Danny, respectively) zipped through the task fairly quickly. 

The quest for first place came down to former NFL teammates Chester & Ephraim and Afghanimals Leo & Jamal at the Cascada de las Animas pit stop in the Andes mountains. Leo and Jamal got to the site first, but Leo didn’t square away the money with the cabbie before arriving on the mat, and Phil and the brawny Chilean lumberjack insisted they settle the bill before they could be checked in. So Chester & Ephraim were officially checked in as team No. 1. And the missed trip for two to Turks and Caicos turned cousins Leo and Jamal into bickering enemies (they could have taken their race wives!).

Bearded buddies Brandon & Adam came in third, married ER doctors Nicole & Travis fourth, and ambitious daters Jason & Amy fifth. They were followed by Okie oil workers Tim & Danny, Ice Crew girls (and Afghanimal race wives) Ally & Ashley, and contentious exes Tim & Marie.

Then it came down to baseball wives Nicky & Kim and performers Rowan & Shane. The baseball wives had trouble with their salt brine, and it looked like they spent just as much time hugging it out (to the delight of the burly Chilean salt mine worker) as they did salting their baths.

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And then Nicky forgot to take the rug along with the rest of her shoeshine cart to the storage station. Nicky, who earlier struck up a quick alliance with Tim & Marie (Tim was a former minor leaguer who played baseball at Rutgers alongside Kim’s husband, David DeJesus), asked Marie for the Express Pass, as it looked like she and Kim were going to come in last. But Marie refused because she wouldn’t get anything out of the bargain. 

Despite not getting their pact with the devil, Nicky and Kim were able to avoid elimination by coming in ninth. Which meant performers Rowan and Shane had to take their final bow from the competition.

And this leg for the "Queens of Bingo" was a comedy of errors from the get-go. First, they got a cabbie who didn’t know where the salt mines were. Then they thought they had the teams on bus No. 2 beat thinking they were going to get on a bus that arrived at 4 p.m., only to find out it was leaving at 4 p.m. Finally, Rowan took the trabajo of some sweatered shoeshiner and insisted on dragging him to the storage depot, wasted his time at the storage depot on one knee and insisted the mujer with the boca grande and the pelo rosso was the diablo.

Yeah. Rowan and Shane were eliminated from this leg of the race. Still, they took a chance and their friendship is stronger than ever. Hugs!

“I don’t want to talk — you’re using my air.” — Rowan

What did you think, Racers? Sad to see bingo queens Rowan and Shane go? Will Leo and Jamal’s spat at the pit stop be a sign of future Afghanimal aggression? Could Marie be the most grating and salty TAR contestant ever?

ALSO:

'The Amazing Race' recap: Gone fishing

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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