The Guianas Part I
Big Ride, Big Heart
This really is the mission I have been dreaming of, through the Guianas. So go on now and prove to yourself for once and for all that you’ve truely earned the right to be counted amongst the Overlanders. Part of the adventure-motorcyclist fraternity. Here we go.
Rested up I bomb out of Santa Elena southernmost Venezuela for the Brazilian border after a quick oil change in the morning to keep Aroha happy. And after quite little fuss I’m through the official stuff and trying to change money at the border so I can eat but with measly rates and with absolutely no Portuguese vocab I get no exchange and no lunch and a 250km straight run to Boa Vista, the gateway to Guyana as there’s no road linking Venezuela and Guyana directly.
I get jammy-lucky finding the guidebook-recommended cheappie-hotel as I recognise the first street-sign I see when I look up after stumbling my way into the centre of town. Where there are two English-boys also staying who’ve just got in from travelling the Guianas. Luck! So they get an information-milking and it’s great to have company in an otherwise lonely hotel in the midst of my ‘no-comprende’ Portuguese isolation.
Boa Vista turns on a lovely lit waterfront evening and I can feel my excitement and stoke to be here building. Rolling out of town in the morning I bask in turning this much anticipated line on my map into miles on my odometer and in creeping up on those border towns which have always seemed so exotic and elusive, Bonfirm & Lethem. Before you know it I am being welcomed into Guyana in English and am back to riding on the left-hand-side of the road. The change in language is an incredible shift. From being deaf and dumb only a few kilometres back to now being able to express myself in every word feels near miraculous and with people welcoming me through every glance and gesture I love Guyana already.
But riding through the interior savannah and jungle is where the real work was always going to be and I anticipate nothing less. A main-road in name only, relatively little is known in the motorcycle-travel-forums about this route to Georgetown and its vagueness is the stuff of fable. Tales of impenetrable mud, it’s unrideable, you’ll need a truck, you’ll never make it.
100kms into the rough stuff my speedo-cable snaps so now I’m left with no-idea how far I’ve gone or how fast I’m averaging. I ride late into the afternoon well past the point of still being interested and finally pull into the dusty sleepy oasis of Annai to break the trip and pitch my tent for the night at the local campground. Cool and crazy Frenchman Alex is there, stopped with his local-trucker-boyz-crew who he’s hitching to Georgetown with, and we talk about his KLR-trip from Alaska to Costa Rica where he ran out of money and had to sell the bike in order to eat. Hard man. And after a few beers with him and the trucker-boyz I’m tent-side in order for an early start to what I can only imagine is going to be a marathon ride tomorrow.
Camp gets broken early and two-wheels roll quickly out of the blocks towards the ferry-crossing over the mighty Essequibo River. Not far north of the ferry I’m under jungle-canopy sliding through soft sand when hello, looks like we have an opposite-direction biker! Turns out to be none-other than Mr. Graham Styles of www.brainrotting.com who after taking his helmet off goes, "so you must be Carsten then!" Turns out he's been expecting to see me on the road all day as that’s how small the traveller-network is in these parts. We share info and commiserate about the road conditions and then we’re off, northbound and southbound in the nature of these fleeting roadside fellowships.
The road. Goes on. Forever. Far, far into the hot dry afternoon and it’s quite a test today. I think back to those dusty Bolivian roads and realise this will rank a podium-third-worst of the trip so far. But, it IS passable and inevitably the potholes must stop and the dirt must abate and when two wheels finally hit bitumen after 10 grinding hours there is sweet relief beaming wide-smiled inside my helmet.
The road, goes on, forever - cjG
I stop in at a ramshackle store for a coke to get me through the final hour & a-half of riding out to the coast. When up walks a Massive-Hulking-Dreadlocked-Rasta, Wayne, who looms over to me and the brown-caked-bike to grab me and shake me in earnest by the dusty hand and to say, with such moving humility and deeply understanding eyes, in sweet Caribbean tones, “Big heart mon, big heart”.....
I pull into old-Georgetown and into Jerry’s Bar & Hotel on Graham’s recommendation with the Guyana-Interior-Road in-my-travel-bag, and the owner Jerry and all his staff come outside to greet me as I ride up and park in the driveway and they welcome me home... somehow, I feel at home.