by Lyn Jensen
Throwback Thursday is today, and a week from today Season 29 of The Amazing Race premieres March 30. While we wait let’s take a look back at Season 16, when cowboys Jet/Cord dominated in South American cow country. “They’ve got tricks up their sleeves and then their tricks have tricks,” one of the other teams (lesbian couple Carol/Brandy) complained.
As teams leave the pit stop in Puerto Vallas, Chile, they get clues to start the third leg by taking a bus over the Andes to Bariloche, Argentina. They’re also given a classic photo of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Wild Bunch, on which a Travelocity gnome has been photoshopped. Their destination is a saloon (El Boliche Viejo) that Butch and the Kid frequented while they were in Argentina.
The first three teams are to leave on an 8:30 a.m. bus:
- Cowboys (and brothers) Jet/Cord
- Married couple Heidi/Joe
- Lesbian couple Carol/Brandy
The remaining six teams are on an 8:50 a.m. bus:
- African-American women lawyers Monique/Shawne
- Policemen Louie/Michael
- Big Brother couple Jordan/Jeff
- Brothers Dan/Jordan
- Pro baseball coach Steve Smith and his daughter Allie
- Dating models Brent/Caite
Caite/Brent were supposed to leave in fourth place, but came down with symptoms of food poisoning and had to go to the ER just before their start time. They recover in time to catch the 8:50 bus with the other trailing teams.
The first three teams reach Bariloche and pick up waiting rental cars. Before getting on the bus, Jet/Cord found a woman who spoke English and could give them driving directions, so they’re first out of the parking lot and know where they’re going. They notice Heidi/Joe and Carol/Brandy are following them. They pull over and pretend to read their map while the other teams drive by.
Heidi/Joe are first to reach the saloon (“The Old Joint” in English), but Carol/Brandy and the cowboys are right behind. The task at the saloon is to win a hand of five-card stud against a Travelocity gnome. Once a team wins, the dealer gives them the gnome, which has the next clue on the bottom. The cowboys get several bad hands, so Joe/Heidi are first to get the next clue. Carol/Brandy are second.
A gaucho festival is going on next to the saloon, and that’s where this leg’s Roadblock is. Teams must rope an artificial steer–a bullhead on a hay bale. The envelopes with the next clue are attached to the hay bales. Heidi and Carol start roping, or trying to.
Although the cowboys are third to start the RB, Jet’s the first contestant to rope a bullhead. Cord says afterward, “Brandy thought it wasn’t fair, that this roadblock was too much like our way of life. We didn’t throw a fit because they knew Spanish and we didn’t!”
Carol is the 2nd to rope a bullhead, Heidi third. By now teams from the second bus are starting to reach the saloon. Jeff/Jordan are the 4th team to arrive (1st from the 2nd bus). When Jeff gets a winning hand, he jumps up and knocks a chair over in his excitement. He exclaims, “I’m bustin’ up the joint!”
The clue on the hay bale at the RB instructs teams to drive their rental cars to an area where cliffs overlook a river–Puente Nirihuau–and search along the cliffs. When the cowboys reach the site, they’re still in first place. They find a clue box that contains choices for this leg’s detour: “Horse Power” or “Horse Sense.”
“Horse Power” involves scoring a goal at a nearby polo field. The cowboys go to pick themselves out a polo horse, only to find that they’ll have to use a wooden practice horse. Teams must take turns hitting the ball, and move the wooden horse to the ball each time. If they score a goal in less than ten swings, they’ll get the next clue. If they don’t score a goal in less than ten swings, they have to carry the wooden horse back down the field and start over.
The cowboys score a polo goal before any other teams get to the field. They’re awarded a trophy that has the name of the pit stop–a ranch called Estancia Fortin Chacabuco–on it. They drive to the pit stop, take first place, and win a trip to Argentina (so they can return to South American cow country someday).
The other detour, “Horse Sense,” involves bandits and hidden loot. Teams first visit a gunslinger waiting by the railroad (like he’s about to hold up the train) who gives them coordinates to pace off, leading to a spot where a bag of “money” is buried with the ropes poking up. When the team finds a bag that matches their coordinates, they’re to take it to the train station, hand it over to the lead bandit, and he’ll give them a gold coin in return. That coin bears the name of the pit stop.
Several teams try “Horse Sense” but few of them show much horse sense. Carol/Brandy are the 2nd team to get to the detour. They get their coordinates and start pacing them off, but one sees a shovel in the ground, and she’s certain they’ve found the buried loot. That’s not the spot, and they’ve gone off their line for nothing. They argue about it for a long time, give up, and switch to the polo field.
Back at the RB, Jeff ropes his bullhead, making him and his girlfriend Jordan 4th. Steve/Allie arrive and complete the task, putting them in 5th place. The policemen and the black women arrive, 6th and 7th in a virtual tie. Brothers Dan/Jordan arrive in 8th place (they had bad driving luck) but they get the RB done quickly and jump two slots. Louie/Michael are the 7th team to get a bullhead roped. Monique/Shawne are still trying, and Caite/Brent haven’t arrived yet.
Jeff/Jordan arrive at the detour and try pacing off the coordinates. They don’t get them right, and when they find a bag, they’re confused about who to give it to. They think the head bandit is the guy that gave them the directions, and they’re missing the part about a train station. They make several tries and can’t figure out what they’re doing wrong.
Heidi/Joe get to the detour, and Joe insists he doesn’t need to pace off coordinates because he can just use his own compass. (Insert joke about men not following directions here.) They find a bag and take it to the train station, but the bandit doesn’t accept it because the team’s directions don’t match the numbers on the bag. The couple give up and switch to “Horse Power.”
Brent/Caite, who had very bad driving luck, are the ninth team to get to the RB, but Brent gets his bullhead roped on his second try. Monique/Shawne are left trying, and trying, and trying to rope a bullhead. They pray, and maybe that works, because they finally do get the bullhead roped.
Steve/Allie arrive at the detour in fifth place, and immediately pick the polo field. They finish quickly, becoming the second team to finish either detour. Carol/Brandy score their polo goal and that puts them in third place. Joe/Heidi finish the polo, too, so they’re fourth. The three teams reach the pit stop in the same order.
Louie/Michael get to the detour and choose “Horse Sense.” They decide they don’t have to pace off coordinates, just do a grid search of the field. (Again we have a case of, men can’t follow directions.) They search, and find some bags, but the bags don’t match their coordinates, and some are decoys (nothing but ropes). Jeff/Jordan, still searching for their bag, hear the policemen reading the numbers on a bag.
“That’s our bag!” the Big Brother couple exclaim. They take it from the policemen, and find the right man at the train station to give it to. He summons an accomplice to ride away with it, and gives them a gold coin with the name of the pit stop on it. They place fifth.
By this time Dan/Jordan have arrived at the detour. They, too, try “Horse Sense” but fail to find a bag that matches their coordinates. They give up and switch to the polo field.
Louie/Michael switch to the polo field. Brent/Caite arrive at the detour and immediately choose polo. So do Monique/Shawn.
Dan/Jordan need three attempts to score a polo goal in less than ten swings, but they do. They get to the pit stop in sixth place. Caite/Brent score a polo goal and they place seventh.
Louie/Michael score their polo goal and get to the pit stop–putting them in eighth place. Monique/Shawn are left struggling with the wooden horse and the mallet on the polo field. They become concerned they may injure themselves, so they switch to pacing off the coordinates in search of the bandit gang’s loot. They’re the one team of the day that actually completes the “Horse Sense” detour according to instructions. They’re the last team to arrive at the pit stop, and are eliminated.