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.

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