Being on "THE AMAZING RACE" was every bit as exciting as I had always hoped it would be. Flying around the world on little to no sleep, trying to beat everyone else to the correct location, searching for hidden objects--it was like a big FTF hunt!
One of the things that I had not considered about the logistics of the show was passing through Customs at all of the various new countries. Thankfully, the show has set up expedited service for the contestants and crew, so that no one lost too much time waiting for the wheels of bureaucracy to grind. Along with our regular passports, the show gave us some additional papers: nine square sheets each having a 5x5 grid of letters on them. I couldn't make much sense of them, so I assume it was all diplomatic code of some type. Phil emphasized that it was very important that we not lose these sheets, or get them in the wrong order "You could wind up flying to the wrong country at the wrong time," he warned us. He also gave us a sheet that showed the exchange rate for more than two dozen countries, although I don't think that these were completely accurate. Some of these countries use Euros now.
The RACE began and we were off to Europe. When we landed, we were brought through a special Customs line. Our Customs agent was a little old lady with a bit of a head cold. She sounded quite Flemish when she talked. She looked at our passports and the coded papers from the show. She laid these out in front of her and spoke to herself:
"Let's see, they started there and ended here," and picked up two of the sheets. She switched those two and gave the packet back to us.
"There you go, honey [cough]. Keep them like this."
"But Phil told us not to get the order of these confused," I complained.
"Don't worry dear [hack]," she replied. "I know what I'm doing. I'm a [cough][sniffle] professional."
She really must have known what she was doing, because each time we went to a new country, a similar thing happened. The agent would look at our US passports, then at the papers from the show. He or she would switch two of the sheets and give them back to us, warning us not to shuffle them.
We wound up traveling to 23 different countries other than the United States. I've listed them below in alphabetical order. I don't remember the exact order we went to them (too much jet lag), although I do remember that it wasn't particularly efficient, as world travel goes. I also know that once we visited a country, we didn't go back to that country again, even if we could.
A funny story I have to tell: For a while during the RACE, I had this strong feeling that we would finish up in our current country, then fly to Panama. But each time we concluded, Phil would send us somewhere else. After a while, I gave up thinking we would go to Panama, when boom! There we were, on a flight from Yerevan to Colon.
Oh, I've also included a few countries we didn't go to, but ones I would like to see someday.
My biggest disappointment is that we didn't get a chance to do any geocaching in any of the countries we visited, although I guess I probably fulfilled a few challenges along the way. Of course, I can't talk about how my team did until after the series is aired, but let's just say that I can afford to place an unactivated geocoin for the FTF of my new cache........
This cache was featured on the GEOCACHING PUZZLE OF THE DAY BLOG on 2/27/15.