Back to Brazil

Hi all, have returned to Brazil.  Without camera, wallet, watch, or voice.  But we’ll get to that soon.

After a rather productive afternoon on Friday, despite decent sized hangover – I was feeling pretty happy with myself.  Had done the internet update thing, backed up all photos to my iRiver (timely, as it turned out), and done a little sewing.  I then rewarded myself with a few drinks.  And, told there was a ‘club party’ at the Blue Iguana (the bar owned by people on drugs/firearms charges) – decided to check it out.  Had been told it was a must-see part of Georgetown.  I went there – very large establishment.  But, got told the ‘disco’ doesn’t open until midnight.  So – just had a couple of beers in the sports bar, then walked home.  Early night before the cricket final.  Didn’t quite make it home.  One block before the guesthouse, I heard two bikes coming up behind me.  One came in front, and pulled in.  I thought “Hmmm…. this could be trouble.”  Just had enough time to finish that thought, but not do anything about it – when I was hit on the back of the head, and as I staggered a little, a forearm placed around my throat, and pulled to the ground.  The guy behind me kept choking me with his forearm, while the guy in front ran up and went through my pockets.  After about 10 seconds of struggling, I realised I could’t do anything.  Tried to give them my wallet, while trying to keep hold of camera.  The fellow choking me was doing it very hard, and very effectively – so I quickly decided to try and show that I wouldn’t resist anymore – so that at least I wouldn’t die of strangulation.  No avail – the bastard kept choking very hard.  Eventually they got everything they could find – and took off.  Leaving me on the ground, struggling to breath.  So – they got my camera, my wallet (with about $1000 Guyanese dollars – NZ$7, and debit card), and old semi-broken watch.  Funnily enough, I’m most annoyed about my keyring which was attached to my camera.  Compass, thermostat, bottle opener.  Useful, and may be difficult to replace.

Also, I’m a little embarassed to admit I shat myself.  Not figuratively, neither.  Only a little embarassed, though – as it was bound to happen.  I’d had dodgy guts for the entire week, with the sudden shock of being pulled to the ground, lying in a rather uncomfortable situation, and spending all my bodily strength trying to get enough oxygen to stay conscious – I don’t feel overly ashamed at doing pooey-pants.  Feel free to comment.

Anyway – neighbours had watched this happen – and called the police.  The woman who came down and gave me a glass of water seemed more shocked that they’d do this to a foreigner, than anything else.  Repeatedly shrieked indignantly at the cops “He’s a foreigner!”  The cops did respond fairly quickly, and in force.  Two cars, and the local version of a SWAT team.  A ute with four guys on back in full body armour, and automatic weapons.  Probably would have been fairly effective against two guys on bikes.  And then, the bit that made it worth being robbed started.  I’ve only really lost a $500 or so camera.  So – $500 for the story of the robbery, and for experiencing the Guyanese police force.  Firstly – taken to gang house.  Despite me telling cops that there is no way I could identify either of the guys.  Taken into gang house, probably making many enemies in the process, as the cops weren’t particularly polite to the people inside.  Then – taken to police station.  Have to wait for detective.  A guy, obviously drunk, wants to interview me.  I finally figure out he’s the head detective – but works dayshift.  Is very drunk, and as the people here do when drunk, told me “I’m a detective sergeant” multiple times, and repeated himself several times on other subjects.  Was suspicious of my struggling to speak in a husky whisper.  Night-shift guy turned up, apologised for his boss – and took statement.  Slowly – as because I was a foreigner, certain people had to be alerted immediately.  And as other people around the town found out, they kept telephoning for details.  Useless details, that could obviously wait until after statement was taken (thereby only needing to ask me once – as it would be all on record) – or even the next day.  I was, of course, very tired, with pooey-pants, and just wanted to get back to guesthouse.  Eventually – statement was written, for me to check & sign.  I didn’t point out the numerous spelling mistakes.  Eventually, I could leave.  They were initially going to let me walk home.  Which would have taken me along the exact same route as I’d used earlier in the evening.  But – the night-detective suddenly thought about it, and offered me ride.

So – that was Friday night in Georgetown.

28 April

Got up, went to police station as requested.  Nothing happened, as expected.

Went to a hotel, booked minibus to Lethem for 8pm that night.  Was planning on leaving tonight or Sunday anyway – and turned out they were only driving tonight – so took that.  Does kind of feel like I’ve been run out of Guyana, but isn’t really the case.

Went to the Windies Sports Bar to watch cricket.  Watched replays of the two semifinals while it rained in sunny Barbados.  Eventually – watched Arsetralia perform their normal boring thrashing of another team.  The farce at the end was spectacular.  I only discovered a couple of days later that Sri Lanka actually had accepted the bad light.  At the time, I thought somebody had forced it on them, and it was even more of a farce than it really was.

But – took minibus that night.  Much more responsible driver (although still 120km/hr on dusty potholed road).  And, leaving at 8pm from this end (8pm actually meaning 9 or 9:30), meant we got to the region of National Park which is closed overnight just as it is due to open.  Much better system than the northward trip, waiting for 4 hours at a roadside restaurant/bar.  As usual, we had to stop about 5 times for beauracracy to check the passenger list against our passports.  Not including being stopped by police car in Georgetown to do the same thing.  I was pretty angry at that point.  Car with 4 police, stopping buses to check passenger lists against passports – when they could be patrolling their infamously dangerous streets.  When the same thing is going to be checked multiple times later.  But – we got through, after pushing a truck through a lot of mud, and then our minivan and another.

29 April 

Got to Lethem, immigration guy thought he recognised me.  I reminded him, and saw in his eyes “ahh yes, you tried to sneak into my country after I told you to leave”.  No problem leaving though – crossed river in speedboat.  American who was in other minibus joined me to take taxi – through Brazil immigration, and onto Boa Vista.

Spent 6 hours in Boa Vista bus station – as 6pm bus was full, along with all others until 8pm.  Drank cerveja with american Will, and chatted to my Boa Vista barmaid girlfriend.  With the aid of a translator, discovered that “Lindo” means beautiful.  She called me that a lot this time.  A pair of swiss girls turned up, without any cash.  We bought them food.  Started getting frostier reception from bargirl.  But – they left on the 6pm bus, having recently bought tickets for it.  The same one that we were told was full.  Then, bargirl warmed up again.  Found out the reason my voice was gone – and stroked my hand sympathetically.  Then – american girl turns up – again, no cash.  (ATM’s at bus station don’t accept foreign cards)  So – lend her money for bus ticket – and drink some more cervejas.  Eventually, say goodbye to Boa Vista girlfriend, and get on bus.  Arrived safely in Manaus, hopefully to replace camera, and other stuff that has gone.


Well – I watched both semi-finals at the Windies Sports Bar in the Windies.  And both times regretted telling people which team I supported, as both times my preferred team lost.  Dumb.  Made myself feel better after the 2nd game by commissioning a homeless guy to write a poem for me.  Phil Collins continuously preaching to me to “Stop, think twice” finally had an effect, I guess.  Don’t have my notebook with me, so can’t publish a copy of the poem just now.

26 April 

Yesterday – went to Kaieteur Falls, the tallest single-drop waterfall in the WORLD!  Unfortunately, there had been a plane crash the previous night, and all the planes were involved in a air search.  So, myself – who figured that hunting for their workmate & friend was probably a little more important than a tourist flight - and a group of americans (guess what their reaction was), left for our trip about 2.5 hours late.  As such, it was a very abbreviated visit.  Ten minutes from one vantage point – usually one spends two hours walking around – getting to see the falls from about 5 different spots.  That would have been good – even from the one spot, this waterfall was awesome.  Good waterfall.  But – decided to take the abbreviated option, so we could still visit Orinduik Falls, where one can swim.  And some people said were better than Kaieteur.  Those people were crazy.  For my ’swim’ – I wasn’t allowed past the area where the water was at most 2cm deep.  The ’swim’ was actually just standing/sitting in one spot where you could get underneath part of the waterfall.  Nice enough – and served as a long-awaited shower/massage – but…

Turns out that the crashed plane had been discovered while we were there, 4 fatalities, and we flew directly over the crash site on the way back to Georgetown.  Possibly explains the pilot’s not so forgiving attitude on the tenth time he had to explain to the americans that if we didn’t leave Orinduik by 4pm, we couldn’t – as the plane wasn’t certified for night flying over bush.  Trying to hurry along stupid young seppos, when you’ve just found out that one of your co-workers/friends is dead, and you’re about to fly over the site.

Anyway…. that night I went along to the Sidewalk Cafe & Jazz Club – and enjoyed live jazz while drinking El Dorado 15 year old, apparently the best rum in the WORLD!  While there, some other folk I’d met at the Windies over the last couple of days turned up.  Turned into rather a late night.  And when I left, I went to a pool bar, and had drunken conversation (ie: listening and nodding) with local.  Got to the guesthouse about 2am.  Landlady scolded me this morning for walking home late by myself.  Fair enough, I guess – the drunk guy at pool bar was telling me his friend had been murdered nearby last week.

But – either Guyanese really are extremely friendly, or the government’s campaign to convince people to treat foreigners well for the World Cup has worked extremely well.  Every block I walk, one or two strangers ask me if “everything good mon?” or similar.  At bars, locals insist, really insist, on buying me beer, even while talking about how poor a country Guyana is.


Am in da Windies, mon.  Minibus up from Lethem to Georgetown was one of the most continuously ridiculous experiences in my life.  An 11 hour trip which turned out to be 19 hours – despite being in a minibus driven by a maniac rather than the bus.  Entire road was dirt/dust and pot-holed.  Yet – van was continuously at full revs, except when crossing very very dodgy looking bridges.  Imagine a home-made bridge on a New Zealand farm – every bridge on the main North-South route was exactly like that.  Gate on road closes overnight, apparently.  So – we stop at restaurant/bar at about 11:30 – and I’m told that we can’t leave until 4:30.  Driver doesn’t bother telling anybody else in van – so they’re sitting there waiting while we’re drinking.  Eventually, of course, I’m the last person up – except for three or four indigenous locals.  They are all christian, love to use the word ‘fucking’ a LOT, very very drunk, love to rubbish each other’s arguments, and very much love to explain their own arguments or greivances.

Michael, told by the tall chap that I didn’t like (first thing I heard him say was something like “Shut up Michael, he doesn’t want to listen to your bullshit.  No wonder you’re such a farking awful christian.”) – anyway – Michael was really really not happy about a bowler being sacrificed for Brian Lara.  “How, tell me, how – can you justify sacrificing a bowler for a batsman – and he bats at Number 8?  Tell me that?  How?” – repeat several times.

The beekeeper chap was very concerned/angry about  the US$100 that has gone missing – donated by some international beekeeping federation  Another chap kept telling me that the others knew nothing about cricket – but HE, he would love to talk to me.  And all of these people are so close to me that I couldn’t move an inch in any direction without touching somebody inappropriately.

I was still awake when the driver woke up, and immediately decided it was time to go.  From drunken slumber, to 100km/hr on dirt road in the space of two minutes.  Elderly lady and I swapped glances of “This guy is loco” and “We are going to die”.   Would die in style though. Van was bright pink, and according to the windshield named “Godfather”.

Finally got to Georgetown.  Just in time for me to drop off stuff at overpriced guesthouse – and go across the road to watch the 2nd innings of England vs West Indies, at a bar named “Windies”.

22 April

Moved to a cheaper guesthouse.  Walked around town a bit.  Sat at a few different pool bars, drinking beer & playing pool.  And that was about it.

23 April

Went for a walk.  Saw the Georgetown Cricket Club/Ground.  Pretty cool – but couldn’t go inside.  Instead – went to adjacent zoo.  Bloody snakes.  Two large boa constrictors asleep in tree, coiled together.  (I think there was two – I’m pretty sure I saw two tails.  Otherwise, one very very large snake.)  On the ground – two live chickens.  One had the sense to look rather concerned.  Next cage – two bloody huge anacondas.  Anaconda is big.  Really really big snake.  I immediately became glad that I didn’t see one in the wild.  All the other normal zoo stuff.  Birds.  Some pretty cool birds.  Weasel, ugly tapir things, and the cats.  Zoo staff happened to have a ocelot cub out of enclosure with them, while feeding giant river otter.  Asked if I’d like a photo holding it.  Cue very cheesy photo.  Little thing kept biting me.  Not particularly pleased about being held by big white man when there was obvious big fresh fish on the ground.

And now – researching pubs to watch cricket at tomorrow.  Was suggested one by a guy on the trip up.  The guy wasn’t particularly pleasant – but seemed to think the Blue Iguana was a ‘must-see’ in Georgetown.  My research shows that owners are currently on bail for various drug/firearms charges – after a raid last week which was searching for 33 stolen AK-47s, among other firearms.  Several articles about the army being ‘posted’ there for different reasons.  Sometimes with the police – but usually, it seems it’s an army job.  Sweet.

Beer slogans in Guyana:  “It’s brewery fresh!”  “The best reason for beer.”  “Drink <brand> …because it’s good.”  And others.

Today I saw: birds – pretty birds, ugly birds, big birds, little birds; cats – big cats, baby cats, vicious nasty jungle cats; monkeys – dirty monkeys, playful monkeys, boring monkeys; turtles – smelly turtles; tapirs – ugly tapirs; weasel; alligators; fish – big fish, ugly fish; snakes – bloody big nasty snakes; giant river otter; Georgetown Cricket Ground.

I didn’t see a manatee.


Hi all. Got kicked out of my first country yesterday.

But, Bob, you’ll be pleased to know that I started heading in the right direction. It was Guyana that I got kicked out of. With the phrase “I thought I told you to go back to Brazil?” To be fair, the man HAD told me to go back to Brazil. And as an immigration officer, he was entitled to do so. He happened to visit the restaurant/bar that I was sitting at, in Guyana, a couple of hours after turning me back at the border for having no visa.

But – after a long walk back to closest town in Brazil, staying at a mosquito-infested hotel (after wandering around for a very very long time trying to find the centre of town – apparently I was in it), and another very long walk back to the border – I paid my exorbitant fee for a visa, and am now legally in Guyana. Only to find that there is no TV coverage in this town, and to then find an internet cafe just in time to catch the final wicket fall in NZ’s biggest ODI defeat ever. Great stuff. Well – will probably head up to Georgetown tonight – so that I should be able to watch our final hopes crumble live on television.

It was just the result to cap off spending nearly two hours earlier listening to Celine Dion on repeat. The woman seems to determined to metamorphise into a drill. Constantly losing weight to achieve the right shape, and using that bloody voice to drill inside your head and twist your brain into a mushy mess. It did make my approximately 50 new mosquito bites become forgotten. So that’s good.

Anyway – I’ll be watching the cricket finals in the Windies. Cool. And maybe visiting the highest single-drop waterfall in the world. Apparently pretty cool. Also pretty difficult to get to. But, after paying US$100 for a visa, think I should make the most of it. And Guyana seems pretty cool so far. It’s in South America, but everybody is very very Caribbean, mon, and they speak English.