Sunday, July 17, 2011

Porous Borders

On a recent trip to Venezuela overland, got a bit alarmed that the Brazil-Venezuela border was so easy to cross. Those two countries have an arrangement that their Nationals can pass freely with an ID card. Because of the volume of people, most are usually waved through if they 'look' local enough. Because of the ridiculously low cost of petrol there are long queues of Brazilian drivers, driving Old american cars with larger-than-normal gas tanks to fill up:- that's roughly 20 litres of Gasoline for 1.50 bolivares which is about US20 cents!

So through Mich's gregarious' nature we met a family from Boa Vista going to St Elena to 'shop'. We piled into a couple of taxis with them and were waved through the Border- on both sides!! Tired and hot, our main goal was to jump into a shower- unfortunately the Hotel we were to stay at was closed so the thought of getting our Passports stamped was the furtherest thing from our minds- the thought that the Druggies must find it easy briefly crossed my mind. Too bad we didn't actually see this sign until we made our return back through the Border:-
So we went about our business and hopped onto a bus going to a near-by State overnight. Apparently there were seven check-points but I only surfaced for one when the Spanish guy we were travelling with told the Military people we were in a Group so they didn't bother to check the passports we were waving at them as his was in order.
When we got to our destination we were met by a Guide who took us to check in for an internal flight when it was discovered by the 'new' person checking us through that we did not possess an entry Stamp! Ohh- and they seemed so laid-back about the whole thing?! So the Guide tried to reason wid de man but he reported us anyway-- apparently Chavez found corruption so rife that he instituted several layers of bureaucracy so that it would be impossible to bribe six or seven different sets of people -- at this point the Guide started to look worried-- we were blissfully innocent of the distinct possibility of being hauled off to jail for 15days then deported.  Luckily in Venezuela as in Guyana the Guide 'knew' the person we were reported to and 'reasoned' with him!
So now our sorry asses had to make it back to the Border past the seven checkpoints in the full Knowledge that we were travelling like 'True' Guyanese - illegally. God watches over stupid people and we made it back-- I was just thinking how easily cocaine and other illegal stuff can do the same journey and at least the Guyana border people were more alert, having been stopped going-- Mich reckoned I was being hustled!
So we hopped into a taxi rather late-ish but when we got to the Brazil-Guyana border the Brazilians had hauled some sort of Chain-linked fence across the road and no-one was there. The Federals had however posted a watchman to guard their building who indicated a gap that we could squeeze through-- so we ended up crossing an international Border again illegally! There was a taxi parked on the Guyana side but with no-one in it.  The Guyana Immigration building was in darkness and we had to beg the guard at the Telecoms building to use her 'phone but unfortunately we couldn't get a signal for Georgetown so we sent a 'boy' to call a Taxi-- in the meantime-- the other Taxi parked by the Border emerged-- with the true smugglers!!-- they woulda driven pass but it was my matti and so they stopped to say that their car was full-- which indeed it was- also I had the two other guys to take along also.
Lethem was in Blackout when we got in as they had run out of Fuel-stups-maybe I should bring some back from Venezuela!

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