Guyana: New Amsterdam and Georgetown (23rd September to 28th September)

After saying goodbye to Pete in Paramaribo, as he had decided not to go onto Guyana since he could not ride anymore as his foot was in a cast, we headed to the Guyana border.  Leaving Suriname was the easy part, but on the Guyana side things took forever. We had all disagreed with Mike for wanting to leave at 7am since the journey was only 250kms, including the border crossing. Well he really did make the right decision as the border crossing took hours and hours. It was quite amusing to watch the whole border shut down and everyone go home a couple of hours after the ferry arrived (there are only 2 a day so the boarder staff just come in at the ferry times) the person staying was the customs person processing the bikes, and one security guy on the gate waiting to lock up the border. Finally the wait was over and we headed to New Amsterdam for the night.

12049548_808792089188808_5694107797976776960_n on the ferry filling out yet more customs forms

 another exciting border crossing

After saying goodbye to Pete in Paramaribo, as he had decided not to go onto Guyana since he could not ride anymore as his foot was in a cast, we headed to the Guyana border.  Leaving Suriname was the easy part, but on the Guyana side things took forever. We had all disagreed with Mike for wanting to leave at 7am since the journey was only 250kms, including the border crossing. Well he really did make the right decision as the border crossing took hours and hours. It was quite amusing to watch the whole border shut down and everyone go home a couple of hours after the ferry arrived (there are only 2 a day so the boarder staff just come in at the ferry times) the person staying was the customs person processing the bikes, and one security guy on the gate waiting to lock up the border. Finally the wait was over and we headed to New Amsterdam for the night.

  

Once again I was totally surprised at what I saw, this time we could have been in India. Guyana is completely different to Suriname. The houses are huge and very colourful, there are a lot of Mosques and Hindu temples. Sadly the place is also disgustingly dirty there is garbage everywhere. I just cannot for the life of me understand why people just throw garbage around them in the streets and in the small water canals. It’s just crazy and begs belief not only is it unsightly but seriously unsanitary so why do people do this?

Anyway dirt aside it was very interesting to see the differences in these small countries. Everyone warned us how dangerous Guyana is but I must say the people we met were all very nice.  It is only Georgetown that is dangerous and only at night. Georgetown is the biggest dive you have ever seen, really not a nice city to visit (which is why we ended up spending 4 nights there). We stayed just outside the town in a huge house which is an annex to the Grand Coastal Hotel (and nowhere near the coast)  It was actually a great house and a nice change to the hotel, and the best thing ever was that I had my own room. Unfortunately they would not allow us to make our own food (so we had to go eat at the hotel), but it was still very nice and private. We needed to stay a few days while Mike sorted out the shipping of his bikes, in case he needed the riders to process anything at customs. He needed to do this as it is just too dangerous to ride across Venezuela, and his bikes with Colombian number plates would really be a target and also possibly not get over the border.

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I have to say that I was disappointed that Motodiscovery / Motolombia didn’t have a plan B firmly investigated and in place for this possibility. The trip had been cancelled before due to the Venezuela situation and it’s been an issue for many years bubbling up every now and again.  However since they had the go ahead when we left Colombia they just thought we’d get through Venezuela but had no Plan B for their bikes or their clients bikes in the event the situation would change, which it did. This cost me a lot as I had to fly to Colombia to go get my panniers (they refused to take them on the support truck, so I had stored them in Colombia as I didn’t need them for this part of the trip since we had the truck with tools and were not camping etc) Bad decision on my part as I now needed to fly to collect them. I could have got them sent for a few hundred dollars, but then there was no guarantee they wouldn’t be stopped in customs or delayed etc so I didn’t want to take the chance.  I did also want to go to Venezuela, I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to go there since who knows if I will ever come back to South America. When we found out that we weren’t going through Venezuela I really had a mind burp. I was just stumped and panicked a little. One option was to ship my bike with Mike’s bikes and then continue my trip as originally planned. However I’m sorry to say that I (and Rand who also had his own bike on the trip and needed to get it back to the states) felt that we got very little support from Motolombia/Motodiscovery as we kept getting told they are working on it but we need to investigate options ourselves. Mike also came back to me and said my bike has to be in a separate container and could not travel with his. In the end it was very obvious that all the companies were doing was worrying about their own bikes and just sent us the email contact of an agent in Georgetown and said it’s better if we contact her ourselves.

I had spent days sitting in various hotel rooms since we were in Brazil trying to arrange shipping/flying my bike to Colombia or Lima or Buenos Aires. I was really angry at that as I was supposed to be on a trip seeing different places but most days instead of sightseeing I would be on the laptop trying to sort out what to do with my bike and also investigating the option of riding through Venezuela.  It really stressed me out as I didn’t have time to just sit and think, it was on the bikes speed to the next place, cross a border, spend a few hrs on the laptop, panic about what to do. It all seemed a bit rushed / panicked and surreal. Once in Georgetown when everyone went sightseeing I slept late and spent the entire day on the internet and just on my own in the house thinking and that is when I decided I was being dumb and just needed to ride down to Buenos Aires as all the other options were far too expensive. This meant that Joern needed to change his shipping and meet me in BA instead of Lima, but that will actually worked out.  I also then worked out how to get my panniers and see Venezuela, the good thing is that it also meant going to Curacao which turned out to be one of the best things to come out of the fiasco.

After spending the day alone and making my final decision I felt free and relaxed enough to take part in the final sightseeing event which was to go see Kauaituer / Kauai Falls WOW

We headed out mid morning to one of the Georgetown airports and hoped on a small 12 seated plane for a 55min flight to Kauaituer. It was great to see the Amazon from the air it stretches as far as the eye can see like a green carpet, you really do get the impression you could walk on it. Every now and again you do see these big brown scars where the mines are. This is terribly sad and damaging to the environment as the mines use huge amounts of mercury and it is washed straight into the rivers. The later part of the flight was a bit bumpy and my stomach was extremely happy to land.

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The tour to the falls takes 1.5 hours and you walk to three viewing points. I cannot tell you just how worthwhile this is they are truly stunning. The guide explained that we cannot say Kauaituer falls as tuer means falls and the name is Kauai so if we say Kauaituer falls we are saying Kauai falls falls. Kaieteur is the world’s widest single drop waterfall, it is 226 metres high when measured from its plunge to the first break. It then flows over a series of steep cascades that, when included in the measurements, bring the total height to 251 metres. While many falls have greater height, few have the combination of height and water volume, and Kaieteur is among the most powerful waterfalls in the world with an average flow rate of 663 cubic metres per second. Kaieteur Falls is about four times higher than the Niagara Falls, and about twice the height of the Victoria Falls. It is a single drop waterfall. According to a Patamona Indian legend, Kaieteur was named for Kai, a chief, or Toshao who acted to save his people by paddling over the falls in an act of self-sacrifice to Makonaima, the great spirit. I can honestly say this is one of the most beautiful natural sights I ever seen and definitely the best thing we’ve seen on this trip.

With the tour over people started flying out some on the 27th others on the 28th (including me) and one on the 29th leaving Rand, Roberto and Mike who were sorting out bike shipping. I left for Curacao and to be honest was not sad that the trip itself was over but was sad to say goodbye to most of the people they really were a great group.12043222_809462059121811_955221892987993229_n

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