Riberalta to Guyaramirin on the Brazil border

Trip Start Feb 06, 2007
Trip End Jan 14, 2008

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday September 24th, Riberalta to Guyaramirin on the Brazil border
Riberalta is much like Trinidad, precious little to do, and very hot. By now there is so much smoke over Bolivia that the far side of the Rio Beni, all of 200 metres away, was a pale fog. Malaria is present here. Posters telling you how to avoid it are plastered on every wall. Pete is going to start taking doxycycline. Barb has been on this anti-malarial for weeks, just as well as she has been bitten mercilessly by all sorts of flying things, even through several layers of clothes.
The trip back to the bus station on motor bikes saw Barb with her unstable 20kg backpack on her back. Visions of her rolling over the road flashed through her fertile imagination on every dusty corner. The choice of a bus to Guyara or a shared taxi was easy. Twice the price for the taxi and 10 times as comfortable and 1/10 of the dust. We got a mototaxi in Guyara, like those we used in Iquitos (a motor bike with passenger cab behind) to the plaza and settled for a pretty basic hotel near the action. It is our last night in Bolivia and we don't have enough bolivianos left for luxury, and wouldn't know how to make the most of luxury if we found it anyway. The hotel had free coffee, but the variety that is deadly strong with a kilo of sugar added to dilute the taste.
Guyara is an amazing place. It is the blackmarket centre of Bolivia. Brazilians flock over the border, the River Mamore, to buy goods of all sorts, electronic equipment, toys, blankets, you name it. It is like a mini version of what Hong Kong used to be. Yet all this stuff can only have come into Bolivia from Brazil. No importer in his right mind would bring goods overland through Bolivia, at least 25 hours from Santa Cruz, 35 hours from La Paz, and dust-filled and shaken to pieces by the rigors of the roads which are impassable in the wet season anyway, nor by air to the tiny airport. Does it all come up the Amazon after a trip from Asia via the Panama Canal ? Or overland from Rio ? We bought a pack of Sony rechargeable batteries for half the Adelaide price.
Dinner in Guyara is non-existent. The Brazilians have all gone back over the river with their goodies, so the place is dead from dusk. We settled for a beer, empanadas with carambola (star fruit) juice, and a garishly coloured ice cream sundae. Nightlife consists of watching cars and motor bikes cruising round and round the plaza, sometimes one bike between 2 cars with the motorcyclist hanging on to both cars. Music blaring of course. Whole familes occupy one bike, mum and dad with a baby and 2 more children squashed on, no helmets. Heaven forbid if you have an accident, the majority of the traffic has no numberplate. Red lights are for decoration, and if you feel like cruising round the plaza the wrong way, well, go for it !
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