Today I am leaving Georgetown and heading back to my project in Sand Creek. The journey is quite a long one (423 miles) and a few people back home have asked me what transportation is like here, so I’m going to blog along the route, so you can see for yourself what it’s like.
Planned route: Georgetown (GT) to Lethem by bus, then hitch a lift to Sand Creek. Lethem is as close to Sand Creek as the busses get, which us why I have to get a lift for the remainder.
4th Jan, 17:14 Georgetown
Just booked my ticket on the bus to Lethem for $12,000 (about £36), waiting for the bus to leave at 18:00 ish.
4th Jan, 18:09 Georgetown
Boarded the minibus Toyota Hiace – it’s cramped but not unbearable. Departing GT whenever the driver decides they’re ready to set off.
4th Jan, 18:19 Georgetown
We’re moving; goodbye Georgetown!
4th Jan, 18:22
Stopped at Survival/BillExpress to buy a river crossing pass for later in the journey.
4th Jan, 18:34
Back on the move.
4th Jan, 18:40
Driver has stopped to buy a CD from a street vendor. Good job really; the decidedly dodgy talk-radio station he had on before was starting to freak me out a bit.
4th Jan, 18:58
Driver has stopped briefly to buy some bread.
4th Jan, 19:07
Driver has stopped again to pick up a “Royal Castle Chicken” takeaway meal.
4th Jan, 19:28
Driver has stopped again at his mum’s house to drop off the bread.
4th Jan, 19:39
Driver has stopped again to buy a bottle of water and a RedBull.
4th Jan, 20:48
Been driving without stopping for a while now; we’ve just driven over the Wismar Bridge Crossing.
4th Jan, 20:52
Passed the first police checkpoint; they checked everyone’s passport apart from mine (despite me being the obvious foreigner of the group). Just left the last piece of tarmac I’ll see for the next few months; it’s orange gravel roads from here.
4th Jan, 21:10
Driver has stopped again to eat some of his takeaway chicken. It smells delicious and I’m starting to wish I’d got one at the same time.
4th Jan, 23:57
Passed the second police checkpoint at Mabura. Once again the only white guy on the bus (me) was the only guy who didn’t have his passport checked.
5th Jan, 00:43
The road to Lethem goes through the Iwokrama Nature Reserve for a while, and we just saw a “tiger” running in front of the bus for a while. The Guyanese refer to any big cat as a tiger, so it could really have been anything; all I saw was a big cat (maybe 3′ tall) running about!
5th Jan, 01:37
Pulled up at the local equivalent of a service station (not quite a Welcome Break, it’s basically a shed at the side of the road) to sleep until the ferry crossing opens in the morning. Luckily they have hammock space 😀
5th Jan, 05:48
Awake after a decent sleep and have just joined the queue of vehicles for the pontoon crossing the Essequibo.
5th Jan, 06:32
Pontoon has just pushed back from the bank for the 10 minute river crossing.
Note: The photos above are actually of the crossing on the way UP to Georgetown a few weeks ago – I forgot to take any on the way back down.
5th Jan, 06:49
Third and final police checkpoint at Kurupukari. Finally one of them has looked at my passport!
5th Jan, 07:48
Stopped at the Oasis Bar near Annai for a final quick rest, drink and bit to eat.
5th Jan, 09:39
Arrived in Lethem! Time to start asking about for a lift to Sand Creek.
5th Jan, 11:00-13:00 (ish)
After meeting the Shulinab and Aishalton volunteers in Lethem and deciding to go home with them later, the 5 of us decided to walk to Brazil, purely to get a stamp in our passports. We got there and found the customs office closed, so we had lunch in Brazil (you don’t actually need a stamp to get in, we just wanted one), and then got a lift back to Lethem with a random American we met.
5th Jan, 14:09
Boarded a bus to Shulinab.
5th Jan, 15:34
Arrived in Shulinab. Time to sit in the benab beside Faye’s shop and try to hitch a lift to Sand Creek.
5th Jan, 19:04
In the back of a jeep headed for Sand Creek.
5th Jan, 20:42
Arrived in Sand Creek; home at last!
So, there you go, an overly detailed account of the journey from GT to Sand Creek. From leaving the flat in GT to arriving at our apartment here took about 27½ hours, which is fairly average. And to think I moaned about the 8 hour drive to PT training (a similar distance for me).