When the 'Amazing Race' rockers were handed (passport-less) lemons, they made (vodka-spiked) lemonade
After a cliffhanger of an “Amazing Race” episode, Abba was passport-less in Moscow after a cab took off with their bags. The good news was that they weren’t the last team to the mat as the goat farmers and the dating divorcees were stuck in a swimming pool in flowered bathing caps.
When Sunday’s episode continued, the rockers were still in race…until they were required to produce their passports.
Instead of performing traditional Russian dances or identifying historical Russian figures in a cocktail party, the long-haired rockers spent their time in Moscow desperately trying to get Abba a passport.
“We kept going to these isolated police stations (in Moscow). The language was incredibly difficult to work around and trying to communicate our problem,” says James.
“There’s all this crazy procedural stuff,” adds Abba. “It was very frustrating, but we got to sight-see through a bunch of different police precincts.”
They joke that they got to play James Bond for six days after the rest of the “Race” continued on, but even after all of that, Abba’s passport didn’t turn up, and they had to get a letter of diplomatic immunity to secure a passport and a visa to leave the country.
“We like to joke about it and say that if we had won this leg, we would’ve won a trip somewhere, so we think of this as a six day trip to Moscow,” laughs Abba.
“We got to go to a couple of nice restaurants,” James adds, “which you don’t always get to do on the ‘Race.’”
“And copious amounts of vodka,” Abba adds.
Joking aside, the pair is quite reflective about their time on the show.
“We’ve travelled together for years and know what our temperaments are like, so we were able to work together without letting a bunch of superfluous crap get in the way that some teams indulge in,” says Abba. “All that was left to do was the task at hand and we really like each other’s company.”
Though they have nothing but good things to say about travelling with each other, even during the most stressful moments like losing their money in Bangladesh, or when Abba injured his legs, they both note that being away from home had its drawbacks – Abba missed his daughter’s Grade 8 graduation and James missed his daughter’s high school grad while they were on “The Race.”
“There are emotional things that come in, as opposed to someone who’s 20 coming straight out of college,” says Abba.
The pair also credit their travelling experience for their ability to take in the “magical, golden” moments that can happen on the road. “If you haven’t travelled before, you don’t know what that moment is at the time,” Abba says.
“There was the moment in Indonesia, in a rickshaw,” says James. “There were these beautiful rice paddies and we just sat there and said, ‘Right now we’re not racing. Right now we’re just getting to where we need to go.’ It was quite memorable.”
“You can look at it as, ‘You lost a million dollars by getting eliminated,’ or . . . but we didn’t lose anything we didn’t have,” reflects Abba.
“And we gained a whole bunch of experiences,” James adds.
“I think I can speak for both of us when I say it’s had a significant impact on our lives,” says Abba. If you throw the word ‘Race’ away, it’s all still ‘Amazing.’”
“The Amazing Race” airs Sunday at 8/7C on CTV. Full episodes are also available online at CTV.ca.
About Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Lindsay Zier-Vogel has been working for CTV.ca since 2008. Lindsay’s highlights include interviewing the famed American choreographer Bill T. Jones and Canadian prima ballerina Karen Kain, as well as covering the Juno Awards. Follow her on Twitter!