November 15, 2006
I wanted to get my stove working again, so I went to the gas station to get some more fuel. I tried cooking with diesel last time, which was a disaster, so this time around I decided to try unleaded. Craig told me about the legendary low fuel prices in Venezuela and predicted that it would cost one cent to fill my bottle. There were two army members at the gas station checking ID's and writing down how much fuel everyone was purchasing. The gas attendant lady gave me a strange look when she saw my bottle, but when I explained that it was for cooking, she went ahead and filled it. When I asked how much it would cost, she said, "nothing." I asked her how that was possible, and she said, "This is Venezuela." It was less than even Craig had predicted!
I spent a few hours experimenting with my stove by taking it apart, cleaning it, changing the settings, and trying to light it. Finally, I got it working consistently. I think the problem was that I was using the jet for benzene fuel, but that's not available in most places in South America, so I had to use the jet for the less-clean fuels like unleaded. The large black plumes of diesel smoke have now disappeared, and the stove is burning much more cleanly.
Craig and I got lucky this morning and ran into an American couple with all of their own gear who were also looking to go to Roraima. We learned that a guide would definitely be needed, so we had two choices: hire our own transportation and guide, or join another tour group but basically go independently. The problem with the second choice was that we couldn't join another tour for three more days, and none of us wanted to sit around town that long. We found a Frenchman who has been living in Venezuela for over twenty years to take us to the trail head, and figured out that it would be cheaper than joining another group anyway. We spent the evening buying food and other supplies for the trek, and will be set to go in the morning.