Thankfully after his spill the night before, Curtis’ knee wasn’t any worse. He takes ibuprofen every 3 hours to stop his knee being too sore while riding, but it was OK. I’d read that the road ahead was hilly, with one part in particular – Devil Hill – being a problem. We were in luck, as a new road had been built replacing the dangerous 20%+ gravel downhill with a much more sanely graded road.
While we carry water, and there were plenty of creeks to fill up from, we often found ourselves receiving drinks. We started to think of it as a water tax. If we needed any water, when a car would inevitably stop to ask us how we were and where we were going, we’d mention being thirsty and we’d nearly always receive a drink, be it water, or one time a coke. One example of that was when a caravan of 3 Brazilian pick-up trucks went past on their way to Georgetown. They had tents built-in to the roofs of the trucks, and they slept there. They have a blog, and you can see a brief mention of us on the 7th of November as well as a photo and other pictures of the road on their site. They live in Florianopolis, and gave me their phone numbers to call when I get down that way.
It wasn’t that far to Maburo Hill, around 80km, but the last 30km of it were horrible. There was a fair amount of loose sand which meant that I had to frequently get off and push in the sweltering heat. It wasn’t made better that Curtis, with his lighter mountain bike and off-road tyres didn’t need to. Struggling, be it alone or together, is one thing, but doing it while the other person is seemingly flying along is even worse.
Curtis is a gentleman, and so when I’d struggled to Maburo Hill he was there waiting for me and had found the police checkpoint that we for whatever reason needed to register at. I was hot and had no idea why we needed to do this, so I was annoyed when I was getting my passport out, especially when I realised the packet of crackers I’d opened about an hour earlier had all got crushed up and made a mess of my handlebar bag. I turned it upside down to clean it out, and foolishly left things on the floor as I went in to show my passport and fill my water bottles up. I realised the next day that I’d lost my external hard drive which was in a case, which also stored my camera lens cleaner. Bugger. I’m not sure if that’s where I lost it, but it seems the most likely. As we ended up slinging up our hammocks for the night at the police station, it doesn’t make much sense to me. My wallet had been there, so if it had been someone grabbing my hard drive, why not get my wallet, and if it had just been left on the floor then I should have seen it when I walked around.
Between Maburo Hill and the next stop of Mile 58 – 58 miles before the junction where the road splits to Linden or Rockstone – a couple of people stopped to talk to us. One, was a rasta fish delivery man, who told us that he had stopped because he thought I was Prince William. He was on his way to a gold mining town where people make lots of money, be it the men who mine or the women who go there to earn that money, and so pay a good price for freshly frozen fish. He, and the next man who stopped, both told us that they wished that Guyana was still under British rule.
After a break at Mile 58, where I had phone signal and could use my Kindle for the first time since leaving Lethem, we rode on until the town of Mile 47 (although it’s actually at mile marker 50) and found a place to stop for a couple of hours to avoid the midday sun. We were about to hit the road again, but I was feeling a bit hungry. I asked if there was anything near by, and the only option was 2-3km back. Not being a fan of backtracking I asked if there was anything Isabella, the owner, could possibly do with the eggs that she had sat round there. She was a bit hesitant, but accepted. About 30 minutes later, Isabella brought out plates of rice with egg and a bit of sauce on. The next hour passed by with Curtis and I talking with Isabella and her husband, a gold miner, Andre.
We’d camped just off the road the night before, and it wasn’t far to the turn off to Linden. We’d been planning on turning right and finishing the dirt road, which would last just 11km more, but it’s an industrial city and going through there would mean hanging around Georgetown as that’s where Curtis would be flying out from. So, we turned left and went the 20km to Rockstone instead. It started to rain, the road got sandier, and I had to start getting off and pushing. We were about 8km short of Rockstone when the sidewall of Curtis’ rear tyre failed. The rain picked up and we tried our best to get it fixed up. I had the tyre boot that Seth had given me back on my 2nd day. It lasted 4km, and then it gave up so we got to walk the rest of the way into town.
Rockstone is a small community which is trying to develop it’s tourism industry, and had a fish festival a few weeks earlier. There was a small lodge that had been built with the help of the EU and we decided we’d stay there. Curtis found the owner in a shop and we walked to the lodge together.
About 10 minutes after arriving at the lodge, I spotted a bicycle which had panniers. How bizarre. On the way over, Curtis and I had been talking and assuming that very few cyclists would come to such a place, and so of course 5 cycle tourists on a professional tour turned up in town. The leader was David, from Seattle, and he was accompanied by four others from the US. I mainly spoke to David, who was a really interesting guy and had done a lot of touring, particularly in Africa. If you’re interested in doing a tour that’s off the beaten track then he’s definitely worth getting in touch with.
Being a Sunday, there would be no shops open in Linden to buy a replacement bike tyre, so we decided to stay in Rockstone. We went out on a bird watching tour to Gluck Island which is apparently full of interesting birds. I’m sure it would have been, but we had a slight problem. Our tour guide was a lady who had lost her husband, and so the only help she had was from her 9-year-old son. He was a very energetic boy who was more than willing to do the boat related things, but as soon as we got anywhere he’d run round finding iguana holes and shouting a lot. Not what you need when you’re trying to find birds. A shame, because I’m sure we’d have seen some wonderful birds otherwise.
After that, it was back to the lodge to do maintenance. Curtis sewed up the 4-inch-long split on his sidewall with some wire and duct tape, and I did laundry and cleaned my bike a bit. There was only solar power for the lights at the place, and my computer battery had run out a bit earlier, so I then spent the afternoon reading books on my Kindle. Lovely relaxation.
We got a lift to Linden not wanting to re-ride the sand road or test Curtis’ tyre too much. It was very bumpy, and got us to town just in time for shops to open. We picked up a spare, but managed to ride all the way to Joe & Christine’s place by the airport without needing it. On the way Curtis’ gears gave up, so he was stuck with a single-speed bike meaning he’d have to walk up hills.
I was waiting for him near the top of one hill and met Wendel, who owned a house there. He came down to talk to us, and then invited us up to give us a pineapple and show us around.
A few hours later, we made it to Joe & Christine’s huge place, which is right by the airport. We’d be there for a rest day, so Curtis could get everything organised for his flight, and also to not spend too much time in Georgetown.
The last day of riding took us to the capital, Georgetown and the house of Isabel & Clive, a Scot/Kiwi couple and our Warmshowers hosts, who had actually put me and Curtis in touch in the first place. The road was fine, until we turned by the airport at just after 8am. Before that we’d gone past about 1km of backed up trucks, and weren’t sure why they were waiting. It turns out they’re not allowed on the airport – Georgetown road between 6 and 8am, so all those stationary vehicles that we had overtaken flew past us on the narrow road. Curtis’ knee was giving him a lot of problems, which meant he couldn’t push a big gear, and so the excruciating ride, through bizarrely named communities like Relief, Support and Garden of Eden, took even longer.
We made it to Georgetown, met up with Isabel briely before she went to work, and then set off sightseeing after Curtis had rested his knee. Georgetown has a lot of wooden buildings, and the main church in particular is very impressive. It’s not a touristy city, and so the people often seemed confused to see us walking around. We had a few days relaxing, getting to know the city, and hanging out with our hosts. Curtis and I said goodbye on the Friday as he flew out early on the Saturday morning. It had been a pleasure riding with him.
On the Saturday morning, Isabel, Clive and I went to a volunteer place where they helped children learn and then played with them. It was a blast and I could understand why they talk about it as one of the highlights of their week.
Bouncing in the truck – terrible audio
In Linden – terrible audio