The last stretch of the journey to Shanklands, is made of white clay, and again it has turned into a quagmire.
The drivers blame it on the army! There is a military camp at Makouria, where the French and English come for jungle training. These tracks should not really be used during the rainy season, but the military still do!
Again, we get stuck. This is becoming old hat now. :-)
Fondest memory: Back and forth, a bit of cursing, rev the engine. Get out and check the situation. Try again.
We're out! No need to get towed this time, we make it on our own! I have so much admiration for these drivers and vehicles, they really do work hard!
The journey to Shanklands was scheduled to take four hours, in the end we spend seven hours on the journey! I wouldn't have changed it for the world thought, it really has been one of the highlights of this holiday!
We encounter more mud. This time it is a thick gooey clay substance.
The track looks completely and totally impassable. I would NEVER have attempted to drive along this track. It really is too much!
Guess what? We get stuck!
Fondest memory: I take my hat off to four wheel drive vehicles in general, and in particular to these drivers!
After a few nervous minutes of sliding back and forth, slipping deeper into this mushy sludge , we finally manage to get out of the muddy grave we have dug ourselves. Incredible! I really didn't think we'd make it this time! This is turning out to be a very adventurous journey indeed!
It really can't be much further now, surely? Things are going really quite well for a while - until we encounter another large tree across the road.
The last two days they've had heavy winds and rain in this area, which has loosened the soil and brought many trees down. The lads who came from Shanklands cleared away five trees on their way to meet us!
Fondest memory: When we got into the Shanklands vehicles at the junction, Jim made a comment about having to share the back of the van with all that logging equipment! Now we are all extremely glad for it!
You really couldn't do this journey without a chain saw or two, an axe a couple of machetes. A few strong men helps too, and someone who knows how to use this equipment!
While the lads get down to some serious tree felling, we, the passengers, are treated to bags of home made crisps and some more drinkies. This really is awfully civilised. LOL
At last we're on our way again, after getting back onto the track again from the undergrowth.
But we're not out of the woods yet, so to speak!
There is another tree blocking the road. This one must have been brought down by the passing truck, as it was not there a few hours ago when the vehicle from Shanklands came through.
Fondest memory: Out come the chain saws again. This really does look like an impossible task, or at best will take an eternity to move!
It is a huge tree, with very many branches, how are they going to approach this one?
All the lads get going, two chain saws a a few machetes. It is amazing how relatively quickly they can move such a beast! I'm very impressed!
This really is a single track road, but it doesn't matter, as there is no traffic here!
We are unfortunate enough to meet a logging truck fill of wallaba wood which they use to make telegraph poles.
Fondest memory: OK! Where do we go?
Either side of the track there is dense forest! We reverse for a while, to see if there is a clearing. The first vehicle finds somewhere to move off the track for the truck to pass. So does the second. What about us?
Eventually we give in, and just push our way into the undergrowth, felling a few thinner trees on the way! We literally just driver over them! Quite remarkable!
We continue on our way. The reason the one truck came this way from Shanklands this morning, was to ensure that the track was free of obstacles and passable to us!
At one place, a tree had fallen across the road, so the crew from Shanklands had cleared a way through the jungle around it! This is why they took so long and weren't there at the junction to met us at 1pm.
Fondest memory: Unfortunately, the other two trucks are slighly larger than the one that came from Shanklands, and can't get round in the area that has been cleared!
The lads pick up smaller trees with the bare hands and move them! The top soil is so thin here (about six inches maximum), that their root system doesn't go very deep.
One of the trees that have been moved, topples over again, and lands on the truck. Fortunately, no damage is done.
After a bit of tree moving, and a short burst with the chain saw, we manage to get round in a sort of five point turn!
Of course we get stuck in the mud! The other two trucks managed to driver through, we get stuck on a log that has been put in the track to "help". We rev the engine, and all that does is dig us a deeper hole. We spin on the log. We splatter mud everywhere. We get in deeper and deeper!
The tow rope comes out, and the other truck pull us out. Or at least, that is the idea. What actually happens in real life, is that the tow rope breaks!
We try again. New tow rope. The other truck pulls, we rev the engine. The same thing happens again. Now we have two broken tow ropes!
What do we do now?
Fondest memory: Out comes the chain saw! The drivers cut up the offending log in the track (under the wheel) and remove it.
Then they try towing us out of the hole again, and hey presto! We're out!J ust like that! It's easy when you know how.
Every hour or so, we stop to take a break, to stretch our legs or use the "facilities". At one of the breaks, the drivers provide us with a little snack of chicken pasties. Drinks are always available, either water or soft drinks.
Fondest memory: Looking at Janet's face, hair style and (was when she left Iwokrama this morning) white shirt when we stop, after she's been in the truck with the open windows.
The shirt is a lovely shade of rusty red. Janet's hair has taken on a completely new style. Style? Maybe that is being a bit generous! Windswept is more like! As for her face - fake tan is so unbecoming!
In the next section the track is made from sticky brown mud, and again we silde about all over the place. The drivers blame the logging trucks for ruining the track with their enormous lorries.
Fondest memory: There are many large puddles to negotiate too, and it is quite amazing the angle the vehicles can go at without tipping over! LOL
The first part of the journey is along a track of soft sand. The vehicles travel at an amazing speed, and slide from side to side along the track.
Fondest memory: This really is great fun, especially following the other trucks, seeing them waltz along the track, like little ballerinas on ice.
After half an hour or so, we meet up with the vehicle which came along this road from Shanklands, and the original truck can get rid of its passengers and continue on its journey to Georgetown.
Fondest memory: Two of the trucks are open sided vehicles, one with a seat across the back for three people, and one with seats along the sides at the back (as in photo). These seats are very slippery and bounce well!
As we are "enjoying" our packed lunch, everyone tries to get out of the fierce midday sun, which is proving to be a little difficult! There is no shade to speak of! A few of us try to get off the road under the trees, while minding the sharp grasses in the undergrowth. Others crowd under the half built shelter. Len skulks away behind the building.
Fondest memory: As we are finishing the lunch, a rather hasty exit happens. Everyone to their vehicles. We chose the new luggage truck, there is me, David, Marissa and Mark. The first truck goes off before it is noticed that we have forgotten Len!
There is no room for him in the last truck, so Carolyn moves out and squeezes into the back seat of ours, so Len can have her place! There really is not enough room for four in our back seat, despite Carolyn and Mark being very slim people!
We try to catch up the first truck (which does have some room), and flash them to get them to stop, but it takes ages before they notice! Eventually, they stop and Mark gets out of our vehicle and sits on the back of the first truck!
While the luggage is being swapped from one vehicle to the other, and the onward travelling ligistics being discussed, we eat the picnic provided by Iwokrama!
Fondest memory: Boy, am I glad that we bought some snack at the 58 restaurant! The picnic lunch consists of cold beans, rice, beef stew and cucumber. I eat the beans. The rest is wasted. I am not the only one, most other people are also very disappointed about the contents of our lunch pack!
At the junction of Linden to Georgetown Road and the road to Rockstone, we stop and change vehicles. We are met by the vehicles from Shanklands, who will take us from here to the hotel.
Fondest memory: There are meant to be three vehicles meeting us, but only two have turned up. Those two have come from Georgetown along the "good" road. The missing one set out from Shanklands at six this morning - it is now 1pm. What do we do? It is agreed that one of the original vehicles will carry on towards Shanklands, and the passengers will just swap from one to the other as soon as we meet the other truck! Easy!
The road into the interior of Guyana and further across the border into Brazil, has been built to carry logging traffic. Brazil apparently offered to pay for a proper road to be built, on the understanding that they would get a one mile stretch of land either side of the road! That is an awful lot of land! The Guyanese government did not agree!
Another great worry to environmentalists is that logging companies from Asia, having devastated their own tropical forests, are now searching for new sources of timber.
If you would like to know more about the impact of legal and illigal logging in Guayana, check out this link
Fondest memory: At Mabura, we stop to refill the water in the radiator - again - as we have a small (?) leak. This is rather worrying.
We get out of the truck to take photos of the timber, and an offcial comes over to tell us off. No photos! Too late!