December 15 2006
Kaieteur Trek Day 8
A boat left early this morning for Pamela. We walked halfway back to Mahdia before a truck came and took us the rest of the way. We picked up the rest of our gear from the hotel and waited with Sally for a truck. It was only about an hour before an empty Bedford on its way to Georgetown passed us. Sally only stayed with us for a short time before getting off on a side road to try to hitchhike to his house in the middle of nowhere. We said goodbye and continued to Georgetown. It was great having a local with us for the trek to teach us about the porkknocking culture.
The road to Georgetown was horribly bumpy, and it was difficult to keep my sanity. I'd stand most of the time until my arms tired from being jiggled around too much, then I'd sit down for awhile until I got sufficiently bruised from being thrown around the bed. At one point, I got the bright idea of slinging my hammock across the bed of the truck, but I got violently swung to and fro, and fell out of the hammock a few times, so I eventually gave up and went back to standing. The good things about riding in the Bedfords vs the minibuses are that they are higher so you can see more scenery, there is plenty of space because you're in the bed with only a few other people, and of course it's free, whereas the minibuses are quite expensive by South American standards.
After a few hours, we passed Mahdia one more time and were once again back on the main road. There were three people in the front of the truck, but I didn't take much notice until we stopped on a side road to pick up another hitchhiker. The driver got out with a roll of toilet paper and ran into the bush. His buddy also got out and stood behind the truck to stretch out. The hitchhiker got in the back with us. Suddenly, the third guy who had been in front the entire time moved over to the driver's seat, started the truck, and took off! Craig, the other hitchhiker, and I had no idea what was going on. The driver's buddy stared at the truck in disbelief as we drove away. I didn't realize it at the time but we were being hijacked, or at least the guy was trying to steal the truck.
After about a minute, we hit a big bump and the truck came out of gear. The thief must not have known how to drive very well because he couldn't seem to get the truck back in gear. We coasted to a stop, and the thief got out and ran around the corner. Suddenly, driver and his friend came running toward the truck. They asked what happened, and we told them that the other guy ran off. Finally, it clicked in my head that he had stolen the truck. A fuel truck for the same company was a few minutes behind us, so I don't know how the thief thought he could get away with the truck, but he still gave it a shot. He hid in the thick jungle, so there was no way we'd find him, but the driver was angrily swearing and yelling about what he'd do to the guy if he ever caught him. It was a really bizarre sequence of events.
We finally reached Georgetown after seven solid hours in the Bedford. It was strange being on a paved road and seeing a city again after being away for so long. At first, the city didn't appear as dangerous as everyone said. It's supposed to be one of the most dangerous cities in all of South America, and judging from the constant reports of murders and robberies in the local newspaper, I'm going to be extremely cautious here. In fact, my only reason for staying at all in Georgetown is to get a visa to enter Suriname.