CLOSE ENCOUNTERS | Here we go again with the caves! Except this time, the claustrophobia meltdown is on a whole new level. I’ve watched countless seasons of The Amazing Race, but I didn’t fully appreciate the producers’ love for caves until I found myself racing through them during our season. The meltdown began after Joslyn and I sprinted up the side of a giant castle on a hill and right into the dark catacomb cave. Our hearts were racing. We were drenched in sweat. And we could barely catch our breath in the fresh air, much less inside of a moldy, stuffy catacomb. Suddenly, just as my heart was about to jump out of my chest, the floor took a sharp slope downward, declining seemingly into the very depths of hell, and the walls around me rapidly began to shrink smaller and smaller. As the kids say these days, “All chill was lost” and that cave “R.I.P.’d me”! With the adrenaline pumping through my veins and claustrophobia sinking in, I just remember feeling like I was inching closer and closer to death with every step I took. I know it sounds ridiculous, but to someone who hasn’t experienced a personal terror like this, there’s no way you could understand how it feels to come up against such a fear and also have to keep racing despite it all.
LIVING THAT BUS DRAMA DREAM LIFE | I was born and raised — and learned to drive — right outside of L.A. I literally spend four hours a day stuck in my car fighting that L.A. traffic grind, but honestly, who knew Cartagena’s traffic would be so out of control? Definitely not me. After deciding to do the Bus Detour, Erin and I and our bus driver headed out into the suburbs of Cartagena — dancing and yelling out to people to hop on our bus, collecting money really quickly, and generally having way too sweaty much fun. That is, until we realized we’d driven about 30 minutes out from the city center and would need to fight crazy traffic to get back to the bus stop. Thankfully, we were very carefully keeping track of how much money we were taking in throughout the detour because our nightmare scenario would have been having to go back out on the bus to try and collect more. Addition, subtraction, division… basically anything related to numbers is not my thing, but Erin and I ended up collecting more than enough money. Thank God. That said, we still lost so much time on this detour and our anxiety levels catapulted to an all-time high. But I’m still so glad we did it because we met so many awesome people and definitely got to see a completely different part of the city.
BUTT SWEAT AND TEARS | I woke up in Cartagena with dozens of zits all over my face. Maybe it was because I washed it with generic hotel soap? Or maybe it was because I literally hadn’t had the energy to take off my eye makeup for three days? (True story.) Well, I come to find out that they were not zits at all — they were mini heat rash soldiers fighting a civil war on my face! As much as I pretended to care at first, I didn’t really. I actually felt proud to sport my Amazing Race face rash with honor. However, that wasn’t the last time the humid heat reared its ugly head. During our Bus Detour, Joslyn and I were trying to make our bus passengers comfortable. After all, we were trying to raise enough money to get through that (very slow) challenge as quickly as possible. I kept finding wet spots on the bus seats, and before I would seat a passenger I would wipe off the moisture with my hands and arms. I kept thinking, “Maybe they just washed the bus before we jumped on?” Or, “Perhaps people keep spilling their water bottles?” I found out later that all the “water” I wiped off during the two-hour journey was actually the butt sweat of other passengers! I WAS COVERED IN SOMEONE’S BUTT SWEAT ALL DAY!
DEODO-RANT! | Cartagena is a Caribbean City, which means it’s a beach town with beautiful people, amazing food/culture and gorgeous beaches. But it also means it is next-level hot, humid, sweaty and sticky. Thank goodness people watching Amazing Race don’t have Smell-o-Vision, because there is no level of antiperspirant that could have saved us during this leg. We were straight-up disgusting. And, I kind of loved it — sweat equals street cred in my book. I don’t think I’ve ever sweat as much as we did in Cartagena. I looked like a swarthy NFL player (OK, slight exaggeration but whatever). Being in the back of some of those cabs was like being on a flying slip-n-slide, with our backpacks so drenched they were more or less stuck to our skin. It was also crazy to see how much the weather affects how teams race – running uphill at a full-blown sprint gets a lot harder in insane heat and humidity.
MOCHILA MANIA | This felt like one of the longest days we had on the Race so far, but I had no idea that it was just the beginning until I hesitantly decided to volunteer for the Road Block. This day was very physically demanding for us. While we were on the race, Joslyn and I played a dehydration game with our bodies. Generally, we would stop drinking water two hours before our start time so that we wouldn’t have to stop for bathroom breaks. This particular leg in Colombia was grueling because by the time we got to our Road Block, I hadn’t had water for probably six or seven hours, and my Road Block had me sprinting approximately nine miles in a very short amount of time. Another big challenge I faced was that I needed to get directions from locals who only spoke Spanish. This definitely should have been Joslyn’s Road Block, since she speaks Spanish fluently! Hindsight is definitely 20/20 on the Race. Thankfully, I found an English-speaking tourist who gave me her map, but after about Mile 5, that thing started disintegrating in my hand from my sweat. Also, coming into the Race I injured my hip while training, so I began to feel Amy DeJong’s pain from Season 25 as I tried to sprint on a hip that felt like it was going to snap right off.