Teams leave Kingston and are told to head to Havana, Cuba. Not actually a TAR first as some have suggested in the media, the Aussie version went there in Season 2. But still pretty neat. Cause of laws and such, the US version has never gone there, although with the easing of tensions between the two countries, I predict we'll be seeing it in the US version soon. But while we're still in Kingston, I have to mention the awesome Tragically Hip concert in Kingston on Saturday. A bittersweet moment, the first time I've seen the Hip live (I have my reasons) but also the last time, since lead singer Gord Downie has terminal cancer. And man, what a show. The band was on, solid till the end, and Downie gave it all, despite the cancer and the recent treatment. I admit to a few tears during the show, especially at the end and during my fav Hip song, Wheat Kings. This was a seminal moment in Canada cultural history, up there with Paul Henderson's goal in 1972 against the USSR and coverage of the Terry Fox run. And with almost 12 million Canadians watching, so yeah historical. And since the company that produces TAR Canada was tasked with the production of the final Hip concert, I must tip my hat. They did a great job of producing the TV version of the event. Kudos all around.
So now to the race. Off the Havana, Cuba. Teams must take the train back to TO, grab the new train to Pearson and fly to Cuba. On Air Canada no less. Considering the fact that Air Canada was used in so many legs of this race, I'm wondering why they didn't just sponsor the show again? There's an answer somewhere there. Once teams land in Havana, they have to find the huge fortress (hey, you know me already that I don't take notes). And in that fortress, they have to find the Bluenose. Wait, what? Didn't we do this in Season 1? Sure they did, but this time, as in the immortal words of Patsy, it's only a model. Shhh!
Teams race into the fortress, search high and low and it's a Detour. Sugar or Shake. In Sugar teams have to crush a bunch of sugar cane to make juice - 15 litres! - then each racer must carry two trays with four drinks each to some drinkers a few blocks away, then return to the bar. In Shake, they must Dance. Hey a dance task. We haven't seen many of those this season, at least compared to last season. But there is still plenty of time. So Jillian and Emmett, Steph and Kristen take Sugar while everyone else take shake. Oh you know who I'm talking about. Okay, fine. Rita and Yvette, Joel and Ashley, and Frankie and Amy take dance. I really don't have to tell you which one Gord and I will take, do I? Didn't think so.
Thinks are trucking along as expected: teams are shocked at the complexity of the dance, other teams grunt and grrr their way through the sugar cane crush (great band name!). And for the whatever time this season, some racer (this time Emmett) proclaims that this is the hardest thing they have ever done. Come on, it's hard, I'm sure, but crushing sugar cane is the hardest thing you've ever done!? Ever!? If so, somebody's got to get out more. Anyway, that's my choice of the tagline for the entire race: The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done!
But the event that was plugged last week happens. Jillian and Emmett finish the first part of the task and set out to deliver their drinks. So in a hurry to catch up, Steph grabs a machete to hack away at some sugar cane that's jammed into her machine and instead slices into couple of her fingers. Ow. Ick. Blood! That's gotta hurt, and yeah it does. More blood! Cutaway to a commercial with a teaser that they may be out. But we all know that's not true. Sure, she really hurt herself and yeah that's gotta really sting but we all know that it's a bit of red herring. She'll get her finger fixed and they'll finish the rest of the task and move on. Still, ouch.
Back at the dance, Rita and Yvette nail the task on their first try and in a first for them, they are first in a leg. Good for them. Off to Camara Oscura to find the next clue. But it's not really a clue, it's an optical device with a 360 degree panorama of Havana and they have to find the flag hanging from the hotel where Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms. Cool, a novelist reference. I like how the race does this every season, mention a novelist but when do we get Alice Munro as the greeter on the mat? I know, she's not a novelist but as Canada's only winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (I'm not counting you, Saul Bellow) she'd be great.
Still, Rita and Yvette find the hotel but Jillian and Emmett are right behind. So are Steph and Kristen, who got through the rest of the sugar task once the Steph's wound was taken care of. All teams must find some beach where they will participate in the first (and last?) Face-Off of the season. Beach Volleyball. First team to 15 wins. Loser must play the next team and so on. Final team must wait until the sand from the former TAR US Yield hourglass runs out.
Okay, a bit of a side note here. I see Jillian and Emmett in a regular taxi while Rita and Yvette, and Steph and Kristen are in convertibles from the mid-50s. There is no way I would have taken a regular cab if I had the choice of riding in one of those old cars. No way at all. That would have be fantastic and kudos to the teams who grabbed those cabs. Not sure if it was just random but I would not have made a random choice. Old car for sure.
Rita and Yvette lose their first place standing as Steph and Kristen get to the beach first. They hope it's the Edmonton team ahead of the Maritime one. But no such luck. Time for the two top physical teams to face-off. It's back and forth but unfortunately, it's tough for Steph to hit the ball with her injured hand. So they fall behind and get frustrated with each other. Some sniping on the court. Steph gets a better dressing for her hand and they bounce back. But in the end, their frustrations with each other allows Jillian and Emmett to win. Off the Big Brothers go to the next clue at the Brake shop.
Meanwhile, Joel and Ashley get the dancing done, quickly followed by Frankie and Amy. Both hit the Camara at the same time but Joel and Ashley miss the clue. Frankie and Amy are on it, a race to Hemingway's room. The Enoch team search the vista for awhile, confused. They finally see the flag but they are behind. Frankie and Amy are heading to the beach for some volleyball.
Not surprisingly, Steph and Kristen make quick work of Rita and Yvette. And Rita and Yvette make quick work of Frankie and Amy. Those teams head to the Brake shop where Emmett takes on the task of making three gaskets for an old car. Kind of up his alley, being a farmer and all. He's been around equipment like that, I'm sure. Steph and Kristen arrive but Kristen tells Steph to take on the task. Hold on, doesn't she have an injured hand? Come on, Kristen, that should have been your task. She's struggles and it's a no-brainer why. But Emmett doesn't and soon he's got his three gaskets and off to the pitstop. Team #1 for them.
Back at the volleyball court, it's Enoch vs Vancouver. And Enoch's winning, mostly due to the efforts of dad Joel. He's diving all over the place. But then Frankie and Amy realize that if they stop serving to Joel and target Ashley instead, they'll get some points. And they do. And make the game closer. But only so much so. Joel jumps in a returns a serve meant for Ashley and wins the game. Off they go to the brake shop while Amy and Frankie have to wait on the beach. At least they enjoy the water for a bit. Maybe there was time for a beer?
At the brake shop, Joel takes on the task and yeah, as a mechanic, he's done pretty quick. Hey Gord, maybe you should consider taking your van to Joel. Enoch's not far from your place and you might get a good deal. Just a thought. So Joel and Ashley are Team 2. Steph struggles with the task, grumbles at her partner but gets through it. They are third although they didn't get along this leg. Gonna get tougher in the latter part of the race so you gotta get along. Amy and Frankie finally get to the Roadblock with Frankie jumping in. She, along with Rita, also struggles with the gaskets. But Frankie gets done first and they are fourth. A bit of a cry from Rita, some hugs from her sister and then they get done. Last place. Must be heartbreaking when they were first several hours before.
But Jon stays quiet, lets them talk (yes it's the sign we've all seen) and it's a non-elim. The Edmonton team is still in, Yah!, but they'll have to do a speed bump once the race returns to Canada, Cape Breton to be exact. Since there is no elimination, no interview this week. And sadly, the pub where we would shoot our videos, has shut down for rebranding. Whatever that means. Sigh. So for this week, we'll head back to Gord's gazebo and have that up sometime before Friday. And sorry no photos because the Bell Media Pr site was a bit slowly uploading this week. Or maybe it's my computer or something. Next time.