August 2002

ihana.com - big trip - diary - guyana - august 2002

 

Help arrives...

...in time for some really...

...difficult stretches

Wednesday 28 - Thursday 29 August

After a night of howler monkeys and other strange jungle noises, the morning came together with a Toyota pick up, winching its way along the section we'd been stuck in the previous afternoon. It was a kind of taxi carrying some Brazilians into Guyana. We told them we were ready to turn back but they weren't having any of it, laughing and insisting we'd get through together. Just then, the first of the Bedford trucks we'd seen loading up the previous morning arrived, squelching along the track, no problem with its huge tyres. They squeezed past, we hooked the landy on the back and the Toyota hooked its winch on the back of the landy. We were all pulled through for the next 7kms which would have taken us a day to get through alone, if at all. This was more like it! In this part of the world everybody helps each other, no obligations, a lot different from when we were stranded in Canaima.

One of the trucks fell off here...

...leaving its load all over the place

Huge butterfly

We drove through or around the bad sections, waiting for the truck to catch us up when there was no alternative. These things have a huge engine-powered winch underneath with 100 metres of thick cable. The guys have to work hard together just to pull the cable out to a tree where they would fasten it in a pretty insecure way. The Bedford would power through, the cable getting tighter and tearing down small trees in the way as it slowly advanced, pushing a pile of mud in front of it. About 15 ex-military trucks make the journey every week, meaning the track resembles a crater.

Results of being towed through a chasm

Being towed along while the truck winches itself

At least we could skirt some holes...

...the trucks had to winch through

This went on for 90kms which took about 8 hours. Look here for a special stuck page with more photos. We reached the ferry just in time as the sun was setting. On the other side of the river we cooked and then left with the Toyota, taking a different route to the trucks. The deep ruts and mud holes were over, just some big sandy ponds to drive through, which often had only one driveable route. The taxi guys would walk each puddle in the dark to find the best way across. The Camel Trophy had passed through this very same route in 1992 - we wished we had their winches.

All of our front lights had suddenly stopped working which led B to drive into the deepest part of one pond instead of the part that was 6 inches deep just a little way to the right. The back of the landy sank down almost to the door lock with the opposite front wheel dangling in the air, stuck fast. The front short side halfshaft snapped at some point during this stuck session which made getting out more difficult. T got the jack out and, soaked to the skin, jacked up the back corner so we could get the sand ladders underneath, the exhaust churning out bubbles and the rear light still burning bright under the water.

Pulling out the winch cable

Just in time for the ferry

Stuck fast in quicksand

Over an hour later we managed to get free. After bypassing the spotlight relay which give us some light we drove on, getting stuck in sandy puddles a couple more times thanks to having two wheel drive once again. The water disappeared and we continued on a rough but easy track through the night, stopping for a brief hours sleep at 12am. At one point a tree had fallen across the track. There was not enough space for the loaded Toyota to get under but the landy squeezed through, and after some chopping of branches with the cutlass, as they call it here (machete), we towed the tree clear. Later, as the track became better, the Toyota started going faster, taillights often disappearing. This made for an adrenalin fuelled high speed 'blind' drive, as the screen was caked in mud (the screen wash ceased to function 6 months ago) and the spotlights pointed off into the jungle on corners.

Use di cutlass, mon!

Check out B's unhappy expression!

Stranded!

We arrived more or less in one piece at a logging camp just as the sun was rising. The passengers in the Toyota taxi all took their passports to the police station, at which time we decided sneaking off up the road was the best policy due to our lack of border entry stamp. The road now was well graded with lorries and trucks hacking along it at crazy speeds. We stopped at a stream for a wash and T took over the driving after B's marathon 24hr session. A few kilometres later there was a snapping noise followed by some tapping and the engine stopped. We coasted to a halt at the side of the track, the timing belt was broken and we had no spare, never mind spare pushrods which would be undoubtedly bent too. The Toyota wasn't up to towing us to Georgetown, his clutch was on its way out after trying to pull us out of the quicksand, so T went with them to get spares, leaving B to wait with the landy. At least it didn't happen deep in the jungle mud the day before!

 

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