Amazing Race
Panama

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M. Giant: B | Grade It Now!
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Two Men, a Bad Plan, A Canal, Panama

The other two teams arrive at the river at some point afterward, Marcus saying they're "off the grid" now. He and Amani end up in the lead boat, while Ernie can't help noticing the large logs in the river that they're putt-putting past in the blackness. Oh, and oops -- up ahead, Jeremy and Sandy's boat has run aground on a sandbar. "We're done," Sandy says. A bit early for that kind of talk, is it not? And indeed, all it takes to get them back afloat is an ad break and time for Andy and Tommy to pass them, stealing back Team Pre-Owned's hard-won, whisper-thin lead.

Sure enough, the snowboarders are the first to reach the village, where there's a full-on hootenanny in effect, with locals playing traditional instruments in even more traditional garb, like they're not all going to throw their T-shirts and cargo shorts back on as soon as the cameras are packed away. There's one of those sign-up sheets where teams have to put their names down for an activity that occurs at specified times the next morning. In this case, the times are 7:00, 7:20, and 7:40, and the activity is a tattoo appointment. I'm guessing the racers don't get to pick out their own designs. Andy and Tommy sign up for the first one, of course, although just once I'd like to see a team grab the latest appointment on an empty sheet, out of sheer bravado. After doing that, Andy and Tommy take the time to express their appreciation for this cultural moment, and even more for the Amazing Race that makes it possible.

Thanks to Jeremy and Sandy's navigational mishap (and I think that they've now had every possible kind), they arrive in second place and sign up for the 7:20 slot. The other two teams have also landed, and as they head up the hill toward the music, Marcus says they're going to get "that crash course in head-shrinking." Well, at least Andy is culturally sensitive. The last two teams get the 7:40 appointment the next morning, naturally.

We see everyone bedding down outside for the night with hammocks and mosquito netting, as Sandy talks about how Andy and Tommy have luck on their side for reasons she doesn't understand. God, maybe? Marcus is feeling confident about tomorrow, or at least acting it, and Cindy is worried about being in last place, forty minutes behind the leaders. "Pretty huge at this point in the game," she frets.

Did the local band play all night? Because they're back (or still) in full swing as the sun rises at 6:58 over what is now Embera Village, according to the subtitles. Confusing. I'm half-expecting Phil to explain that this village changes its name on a daily basis, but I'm disappointed. Ernie, Marcus and Amani dance to the tunes while Andy and Tommy interview some more about what a great experience it was to spend the night there. At seven on the dot, some villagers dash up to the spot near some hilltop huts where the racers are waiting and lead them at a dead run to a spot near the river where they are invited to sit down on stumps and present their arms for decoration. It's always nice when the task facilitators are also in a hurry. The tattoos turn out to be painted on, not that this prevents Andy from joking about the pain. They're tribal art designs with Roman letters mixed in. Those letters indicate San Francisco Bay Towers, which, as Phil shows us, is a pair of high-rise apartment buildings back in Panama City. Andy and Tommy go running off with their completed tattoos, and Jeremy and Sandy are fetched for theirs. The snowboarders are back in their boat, which goes a lot faster in daylight. Watch out for sandbars.

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Amazing Race

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