August 21st, 1990
Flight from Caracas to Puerto Ayacucho as passengers
Some Dodgy Hotel, Venezuela
At five this morning, I met Millie, Dolly and Nigel in the lobby and a short while later, we boarded an ancient looking DC-9 that arrived (via San Fernando) in the capital of the Amazonas state.
Juan, our tour guide, met us at the tiny airport terminal and drove us to the boat that would take us up the Orinoco River. I wasn’t expecting a yacht but neither was I expecting the miniscule boat we crammed into, with Juan at the helm, insisting we wear bulky lifejackets that only added to the discomfort already felt by the heat.
The slow pace up the river felt serene until it became apparent that Nigel’s role was to stop Juan from falling into the water, anytime he dozed off! Nigel is one of the nicest guys ever. He’s the sort of chap that, even if you do something wrong, will take the blame and insist it’s not your fault.
“I don’t expect you got much sleep last night,” he said to Juan, after the umpteenth time saving him from drowning. “Perhaps it’s time for a short break?”
With Millie, Dolly and me shaking the boat (raft!) with our uncontrollable laughter, Nigel helped Juan guide the boat under the shade of towering trees, where sloths moved above us. What strange but cute little creatures they are.
“I feel a bit like that at the moment,” Dolly uttered, knocking us into another fit of giggles.
Only Nigel was brave enough to eat the unsavoury looking chunks of chicken (debatable) Juan offered, as we girls ate only rice and not nearly enough of it.
“We’re going to die of hunger,” Millie groaned, sounding as lackluster as I felt.
After “dinner,” Nigel took on yet more responsibility, aiding Juan anytime the engine cut out, which seemed like every few minutes but allowed us to stay on the river long enough to witness a spectacular sunset which would’ve been much more enjoyable had we not been so ravenous.
“I am not staying here!” were Millie’s first words after Juan dropped us at the hotel, to which Nigel calmly responded; “It’s only for the night.”
The so called “shower,” is a hand-held unit but the bracket that used to house it is broken off, along with the piece of the wall it was attached to, leaving a gaping hole to the outside! There are spiders and huge black bugs everywhere, some of which are already dead. And I’d prefer to be at the other side of the jungle when Millie discovers there’s no lock on the bedroom door!
We’re beyond starving so Nigel went in search of food and just returned looking rather apologetic.
“It appears we’re too late but the good news is, breakfast will be served at eight.”
Too bad we’ll be dead by then, Nigel!
Ah, but to prove that every cloud does indeed have a silver lining, Millie just produced a bottle of vodka from her rucksack with the same dramatic flair, a magician would, a bunny from a top hat.
Or maybe I’m just delirious!