Maria and David Round The World Trip 2006/2007 travel blog

Our rickety bus!

"Will she make it?!"

"Now she will"!

End of the road - literally!

It's a long way to Venezuela, it's a long way to go...♫! Our next destination after Guyana was neighbouring Venezuela, so ideally we would have liked to have crossed from one country directly to the other. However, that was not an option as direct flights between the two countries do not exist and there are no official overland crossings anywhere along the 743km border between the two countries. This is as a result of a long running dispute in which Venezuela claims a huge chunk of Guyana comprising the entire area west of the Essequibo River. Despite an international tribunal awarding 94% of the disputed territory to the British in 1899, the dispute continues to this day.

So after saying our goodbyes to Heather and Deen, we boarded the long overnight bus back through the interior of Guyana, in order to cross into Venezuela through Brazil. Apparently, it can be a lawless road prone to bus bandits at night time so we said our prayers as we boarded the bus and hoped for the best! The journey took 15 hours on a rickety old bus that didn't have air-con, which meant that it was a very hot and very dusty ride! Somehow, the dreadful road surface didn't slow the bus driver who clearly knew all the humps and bumps off by heart! Miraculously, we slept all the way to the barrier at the controlled Iwokrama Rainforest. The barrier is closed during the night in order to prevent illegal access to the forest by wildlife hunters, illegal loggers, etc. We arrived at the barrier at 4:30am but the road is not opened until 6.00am, so lots of people got off the bus and passed the time dozing in hammocks, on picnic tables, on walls ... you name it! We decided to miminise mozzie contact as much as possible by sleeping on the bus!

After catching the first ferry of the day across the Essequibo River near Kurupukari, we were back on the bus again. Once again, we slept soundly only waking up to enquire why the bus had stopped in the middle of nowhere. The drivers were out on a wooden bridge, pacing up and down, scratching their heads! We had reached a dodgy wooden bridge with broken and loose beams, obviously causing some concern for the drivers. After a few more minutes of discussion, they had re-positioned the wayward beams in a straight line and we were back on the move!

En route, we stopped in Annai for refreshments at the Oasis bar which is also owned by Colin Edwards of Rockview Lodge. By good luck, we bumped into Colin's son George and paid for a round of drinks that we had forgotten to pay for a week earlier! Easy mistake!

We arrived in Lethem at the quoted time of midday (who said things are backward in Guyana!). The bus dropped us off at the familiar border crossing by the river - the police tent and the abandoned bridge were unmistakable! We went through the passport formalities without any problems and completed the river-crossing / money-changing exercise that we had done a week earlier - only this time in reverse!

Rather than waiting for 7 hours for the next scheduled bus to Boa Vista, we shared a taxi with a family who were living in Boa Vista. He was Guyanese and she was English, so there was no problem with conversation during the 2 hour journey! They were an interesting couple who were optimistic about Guyana's economic prospects and were planning to move back there soon. Apparently, Guyana has the fastest growing economy in South America (which isn't hard!) and they were hoping to enjoy better times in Guyana's growing economy than in Boa Vista's stagnant one.

Later on, as we were sitting in the bus station in Boa Vista, the couple very kindly came back to the station to check on us and to give us some words of warning on travelling in Venezuela. We had been struggling our way through a conversation in Portuguese at the ticket counter and luckily the man was able to step in to clarify the matter. So with their help, we didn't have to spend another night in Boa Vista! Instead, despite being on the road for the last 20 hours, we decided to go straight to the Venezuelan border.

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