Amazing Race 14, Recap finale: Maui, Hawaii where pigs are heavy

After after a quick video clip refresher course of the various legs of Amazing Race 14, the three remaining teams bid adieu to Bejing and headed to Maui, Hawaii on the same Air China flight. Admittedly, several times during this episode, I felt the end of the trip feel–a bit of a sigh that the bulk of the excitment and surprise is over and home is near.

I felt sad to say goodbye to China since the last three weeks were spent there, but Maui offered gorgeous scenery and decent finale with some laughs and stiff competition.

First stop in Maui was Beach Access 118. As the teams headed off in taxis from the Maui airport, it was time to don bathing suits while still in the taxi for beach fun, although there wasn’t much fun involved.

In India, one team member had to schlep buckets of water and grain. In Hawaii, both team members had to schlep a pig. Poor pigs. What undignified ends to what may have been happy lives. After dressing the dead, skinned pigs in oil and traditional spices and herbs, and sliding a stick through the space caused by their pairs of tied together legs, the teams had to carry the 145 pound pigs along 200 yards of the beach to a traditional luau.

If you ever have to carry a pig hanging from a stick any distance, use Margie & Luke’s method. They rested the stick on their shoulders. The other method, carrying the stick at waist and chest level, doesn’t work, not unless you think dropping a pig several times might be a good way to tenderize the meat. Tammy & Victor’s and Jaime and Cara’s pigs showed up at the luau covered in salt water and sand, even though Victor told Tammy to not doubt her pig carrying abilities and Jaime wondered what was wrong with Cara for being so weak. Certainly Cara could take Tammy down if need be was the gist of Jaime’s yammering.

Once at the site where people were gathered for a luau, playing instruments in a fashion that seemed a bit lackluster if you ask me–not nearly as buoyant as those Romanian gypsies or Siberians in earlier episodes, the teams had to prepare a cooking fire-pit in the traditional luau way. Luke & Margie nailed it, and the other teams had to do theirs again.

When the teams left the musicians still playing, and the pigs buried in sand with barely a laugh or a quick goodbye, I wondered what the next step would be for the pigs? Would they ever be eaten or cleaned up to be ground into sausage or what?

For the three teams, no time to wonder about such trifles. Off they went to McGregor Point to hop on a two-person water craft to buzz out to 100 buoys to search for the next clue. That looked fun. Not as environmentally friendly as a luau, but fun. The teams had a blast. Margie & Luke kept their lead, passing Victor & Tammy and Cara & Jaime as they headed back to shore. There was laughing and smiling here with friendly waves.

Next stop was the surfboard fence along Hana Highway. Naturally, Jaime and Cara’s taxi got lost and they ended up at the wrong line of surfboards, something they knew right away, but this time Jaime had the eventual presence of mind to apologize to the driver for her attitude.

Just like with the entire season, this episode was anyone’s game. As Luke initially blazed through the task of building a surfboard fence by finding symbols painted on surfboards that matched each leg of the race, he became stumped by the last two. The more he was stumped, the more frustrated, which meant the more he couldn’t think clearly. Eventually, surfboards were scattered every which way while he kept messing up the last two to complete his fence.

Luke’s frustration was enough to give Victor and Jaime who were also playing this clever match game to catch up. As Victor found the last surfboard, Luke was in despair. Margie and Cara beseeched Jaime and Luke to work together, so they could get out of surfboard hell, I imagine.

While Tammy and Victor knew they were on their way to a million dollars, Luke and Jaime berated themselves in their own taxis for having faulty memories. Jaime couldn’t remember St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, and used as the symbol for the Church of San Antonio where they stopped during the first leg. Ironic, isn’t it?

Luckily for them, they each have people who love them dearly. Instead of shouting, “You stupid, stupid fools,” at them, Margie and Cara said the exact words needed to help them swallow the loss of the million.

As these last two teams made it to the finish line at King Kamehameha Golf Club, they realized that they were able to do what most teams don’t, actually finish the Amazing Race. The cheering, clapping and hugs from the teams who had been eliminated earlier helped add positive energy to the finale. Plus, there was enough time for Margie & Luke to talk about what it really means for a deaf person to finish the race. A heck of a lot. In probably one of the most emotional moments, Luke talked about how few parents with deaf children ever learn to sign and what it means to him that his mother does.

Then there was Victor, eloquent to the end, who summed up what makes traveling so darned special if you do it right. “You can have a lot of fun doing the crazy and unconventional. It makes life a whole lot more interesting,” he declared.

So, all you travelers out there, find something unconventional to do this week and have a smashing good time. Just remember everyone finished the Amazing Race alive, so keep it safe– unconventional and crazy is fine, but don’t be foolish.