The Virtual Race
PassportNav
Leg 4
A Salt and Battery

Losing an Hour at the Tower
Kimberly: Hello again, gang! Patrick & I are still celebrating our third place finish for the third leg of the race, because we'd rather just forget about how we did this leg. We started out on a bad foot and things just went downhill from there. Also, we were in pretty rough shape by the time we reached the third Pit Stop, what with Patrick's bruises from the rollerskiing, his sore muscles from the hay rolling, and my sneezing, sniffling, and breaking out in hives. We were praying that the fourth leg would be less physical. After all, we're just a couple of computer geeks.

Patrick & I left the Stockholm Pit Stop in third place (yay!), and we found the Town Hall Tower with no problem. I spotted Kris & Jon and Hayden & Aaron talking to a guard, so we hurried up - just in time to hear the guard say that the Tower would be open at 10:00 a.m. Hayden suggested heading over to a nearby Sheraton to get some rest, and I quickly agreed. I'd taken a couple of doses of antihistamines since our encounter with the hay bales, so I was feeling a little spacey. I figured some sleep would help prevent any mental slip-ups. (Yeah, it's funny to think about it afterwards, isn't it?)

When Patrick woke me up later, it was 6:30. We snuck out and left the other teams in the hotel to get some coffee and wander around a bit, then we headed to the Tower to scout it out. Boy, were we surprised to find out it opened at 7:00 instead of 10:00! We weren't too panicked because we hadn't lost much time, but we were kicking ourselves for not double-checking everything.

"Should we tell the other teams?" Patrick asked.

"Are you serious? No. Absolutely not."

"Wow, you didn't even hesitate. You're cutthroat!" Patrick grinned at me. "I hope I don't get too injured during a task. You might shoot me like a lame horse and drag my carcass around with you."

"I wouldn't do that! I need you to do your share of the Roadblocks. I'd shoot you afterwards."

Eating With the Enemy
After grabbing the clue, we took a taxi to the airport, which turned out to be a bunching point in the race. So we ended up on the same flight to Senegal with everyone else. The teams were spread out a bit on the plane, but we sat next to Hayden & Aaron. Aaron wasn't put off by the fact that we didn't tell them about the earlier opening time, but Hayden bored me with her complaints about the delay and losing the lead. Yes, it'd been only about two weeks, and I was already starting to get tired of some of the other racers. Except Jonathan, of course. I'd gotten tired of him on the first day.

Fortunately Hayden soon found something else to complain about - the mystery meat included with our in-flight meal. I had no idea what the meat was, but it was horrid. Patrick picked at it for a while before giving up and moving straight to dessert. I pushed my tray out of the way and started thumbing through a guidebook when my light went out. I looked up and saw Bolo's huge head and shoulders looming over me. He pointed at my tray. "Hey, Kimberly. If you're not gonna finish that, could you give it to me?"

Really, what are you going to do when a guy Bolo's size asks you for your dinner?
Really, what are you going to do when a guy Bolo's size asks you for your dinner? I passed my tray while Patrick looked on, amused. "What are you doing?" Patrick asked, then he waggled his finger at me. "Are you in an alliance with the enemy? Because if you are, I don't know if I can be your partner anymore."

Bolo glowered at Patrick, who let out a nervous little laugh and offered him his tray. Bolo grinned, gave Patrick a friendly slap on the arm, and headed back to his seat with our meals. When he was gone, Patrick winced, rubbed his arm, and whispered, "Great - another bruise!"

Driven Mad
We spent most of the flight planning our strategy for Senegal, so when we disembarked, we were ready. We ran outside and found the clue with the poem. Patrick asked a couple of locals about it, and quickly found out that we needed to go to Senghor's grave. We found a taxi, and Patrick started negotiating a price with the driver. I stood back since Patrick's French was better, but it soon became obvious that he and the driver couldn't come to an agreement. "Vingt,twenty dollars," Patrick kept repeating, to which the driver insisted, "Non, trente." No, thirty. They went back and forth and back and forth, making me nostalgic for the more mature schoolyard game of "Did not!" "Did too!"

But over the driver's shoulder I saw two, then three teams leave in their taxis. I didn't want to fall even further behind, so I stepped between Patrick and the driver to interrupt their debate. "Vingt-cinq ou zero, c'est le offre finale," I declared with as much finality as I could muster, hoping I'd gotten the number 25 right. Mercifully, the driver accepted the offer and drove us to the graveyard without any further argument. Unfortunately, it was closed when we arrived, so we stayed the night in a hotel - again bunched with the rest of the teams, much to our disappointment. We were hoping that Jonathan & Victoria had been left behind in Scandinavia.

The next morning, all the teams entered the graveyard together, and on our way in, Patrick got directions to Senghor's grave in French from one of the men opening the gate. We quickly found the Amazing Clue Basket, then we headed out of the graveyard to find a taxi. Fortunately there happened to be quite a few trolling around nearby, which seemed kind of strange to us - after all, don't you find more potential fares driving around places where people are less ... I don't know ... dead?

Anyway, Patrick and the driver agreed on a fare, and we took off right behind Don & Mary Jean. We had gone about 20 miles when I saw a red light on the dash. I told Patrick, and after he exchanged a few words with the driver, we pulled off onto the side of the road. "He says it's the battery," Patrick reported. "It has to be replaced." Another brief flurry of French. "Okay, I've asked him to call us another cab. He claims it'll be here in ten minutes."

Ten minutes stretched to fifteen, then close to twenty. Finally a new cab appeared. And when I say "new cab," I'm not talking recently-saw-a-dealer-lot new. The cab had a cracked windshield and a heavily dented driver-side door. It was missing all its rearview mirrors. It had mismatched parts from at least half a dozen different car manufacturers in a riot of colors, and I'm pretty sure the tires weren't the same size.

I didn't want to ride in that monstrosity, but we had already fallen really far behind. I got out of the old cab, but Patrick just stared at our new ride. "I'm not getting in that," he said. "It'll fall apart on us, and we'll need to wait for another cab."

"Patrick, we have no choice. All the teams are probably ahead of us right now, and we have to go with him if we don't want to get eliminated. Even if we called another cab right now, it'll probably be another 20 minutes before it comes. Come on!"

The inside of the cab looked just as bad as the outside - and it had the added bonus of smelling like a frat house toilet.
Patrick reluctantly agreed, and quickly settled on a price with the new cabbie. We jumped in and immediately started gagging. The inside of the cab looked just as bad as the outside - and it had the added bonus of smelling like a frat house toilet.

Salt in the Wound
We gasped and gagged all the way to the fishing village. When we read the Detour choices, our stomachs turned at the idea of going out in a boat to fish, so we ran to the fish stacking tables. Our nasal passages had been pretty well deadened during our time in the taxi, but Patrick, who absolutely hates fish, started to complain about the odor. "I'd rather be in the cab again," he bitched. "These things are horrible. We're going to stink really bad after this."

"It's just like the smell of our cats' food," I snapped back, more peevish than I probably should have been. "And it's no worse than the smell of their shit, and you deal with that all the time." Patrick grumbled and got back to stacking. I looked around for other teams, but there didn't seem to be any around the drying tables.

It didn't take long for us to finish, and we raced to Lac Rose, this time in a safer-looking, less smelly cab. When we saw Gus & Hera there, we knew we had a chance to avoid elimination, as long as we worked fast. Patrick agreed to do the Roadblock even before I'd finished reading the clue. I think he just wanted to get the fish smell off any way he could! He kicked off his shoes, snatched up the bucket and rake, and ran in.

The race between Gus & Patrick wasn't even a contest. Gus's basket looked like it still needed a couple more trips' worth when Patrick finished. We ran past Don & Mary Jean, who had arrived after us, and we caught yet another cab to get to the Ile de Gorée ferry. "That was a lot easier than the hay Roadblock!" Patrick exclaimed as he tried to dry himself off. "I'm worth my salt, don't you think?"

I laughed. "Definitely. Great job, honey. I think I'll keep you."

When we got to the ferry terminal, we learned that the ferry wouldn't be leaving for another 25 minutes. We knew that might be enough time for Gus & Hera and/or Don & Mary Jean to catch up, so we had to come up with a game plan. "I say we just run like hell and find Phil first," Patrick suggested. "We can definitely beat them in a footrace."

Patrick spent the entire ferry ride frantically flipping through his pocket French dictionary translating phrases like "television crew," "video cameras," "muscle-bound wrestlers," and "loud, obnoxious American with blue hair."
"Okay, but where are we running to?" I asked. I love Patrick dearly, but sometimes he does go off half-cocked. We got a map of the island and were still discussing what to do when Gus & Hera arrived. We'd picked a few likely spots for the Pit Stop, but we decided what we really needed to do was find someone who'd seen the TAR production team and the other racers. We got on the ferry and sat away from Gus & Hera. Patrick spent the entire ferry ride frantically flipping through his pocket French dictionary translating phrases like "television crew," "video cameras," "muscle-bound wrestlers," and "loud, obnoxious American with blue hair."

When the ferry reached the other side, we jumped off and quickly ran to an official-looking man who knew exactly where we had to go. Yay! We got directions and were off again even before Gus & Hera had caught sight of us. We ran through the streets and after a couple of wrong turns, we found Phil, who told us we were team number seven. "Thank God that leg's over with and we don't have to take a taxi anywhere," Patrick said. Amen to that!

Next week: once a frat brat, always a frat brat.

Discuss these racers.