By Barb Oates
The tensions of being with someone 24/7 were still evident when I sat down to talk to Survivor‘s “Boston” Rob Mariano and Monster Truck “Gravedigger” creator Dennis Anderson in August. The duo just returned from a 67-day globe-trotting expedition for their new History series Around the World in 80 Ways, debuting Sunday, Oct. 2 at 10pm ET.
While sitting on a hotel balcony overlooking Beverly Hills, Anderson, jokingly annoyed with Mariano’s relentless banter and unasked expertise along the way, says “I nicknamed him Bossy Rob.”
Mariano interjects, “That’s cute, right? That’s his claim to fame. He said it and everyone on the crew laughed the first time and I had to hear it” the rest of the trip.
“We had our moments,” Mariano explains. “Look there’s a generation gap between us — we are kind of like oil and water, we don’t mix too good. Separately, on our own, we are good — 24 hours a day for seven days a week for 10 weeks is a long time to spend with anyone.”
Anderson agrees, “I always looked at Rob like a piece of chocolate. It’s good if you have a little piece of it here and there, but too much of it makes you sick.”
Mariano, barely able to talk because he’s laughing so hard, credits Anderson for that one. “You keep coming up with this stuff all the time. That’s a good one.”
The duo are a bit giddy just having returned from their trip. They hadn’t even seen their families at the time of the interview.
“Even after we were kind of pissy with each other and at the end of each mission, I would think ‘I really kind of like Rob.'” Anderson admits. “The first three weeks I was going to bail. I was like ‘Dude, I’m over this. I don’t have to deal with this crap. I’ve got a life, I’ve got a career a family,’” Anderson says.
Mariano interrupts, “It’s like spending a lot of time with your grandpa. You like to spend the weekend with him but you don’t want to spend every day with him because all of a sudden you become history.”
They obviously stuck it out and the two navigated the globe using 80 different forms of transportation without repeating any vehicle. At times they worked as a team, other times as competitors. Some of their challenges included rushing down Victoria Falls in a barrel, hang gliding over Rio and crossing the Kalahari by ostrich.
“If someone would have [written] down a menu and said, ‘OK, Dennis, here’s what you’re going to have to do,’ I probably wouldn’t have gone,” Anderson admits. Now, he’s just thankful he did.
“There’s one thing Dennis and I have in common — and there’s not much — but we’re both competitive,” Mariano says. “I’ve traveled the world before but never like we did in this. … It was the interaction with each other, that was a challenge. I don’t spend that kind of time with my wife.”
In the end, Anderson says: “I learned more in 10 weeks than I have in 50 years on means of transportation, cultures and the world.” And, they are both hoping you do too.