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Day 11: Mario and his Mum

Got to Bogotá yesterday, but there was barely enough time to pull my undies out of my backside before I was bang! on another overnight bus heading up to the border with Venezuela. For some reason, Colombian buses must be kept at a constant -5 degrees C at all times, so I was forced to wear pretty much all the clothing I own and my sleeping bag. But that’s the way they like it. We were roused from our collective slumbers at about 7am for some breakfast on top of a mountain. And I thought the bus was cold…! Luckily, the driver kept us all locked out of the coach for half an hour so we all got to experience the full freezing coldness of an Andean mountain on an early Sunday morning.

What is this with countries near the equator being cold? I don’t get it. I may have to right a letter to the Secretary General of the UN about it. It’s just not cricket.

I arrived at the border with Venezuela in good time – around 12 noon, expecting to breeze through the formalities in good time, but ended up waiting for an age. I got chatting to a Venezuelan teenager called Mario, and he and his mum would be my guardian angels for the next couple of days.

My first taste of Venezuela was for the taxi driver to rip us off something rotten – charging $30 to drive a mile or so. Fairly cheeky, one would imagine – but it’s taking the utter p*ss when you remember that Venezuela is an oil state and it costs $2 to fill your tank. Or $1 to fill your car, if you’re not playing Grand Theft Auto.

Actually, it was a good introduction to life in Venezuela – it’s expensive. Very expensive. In a crappy, rippy-offy kind of way.

And awkward. Very bloody awkward.

So far, The Odyssey hasn’t been a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I’ve been able to turn up, buy a ticket to my next destination and jump on the bus.

I think Venezuela has been taking lessons from the appallingly crap public transport system we have in the UK.

So – let’s put not enough buses on during public holidays! Let’s have no express services! Let’s make it impossible to pay by Visa! Let’s employ thoroughly unpleasant and unhelpful staff! And, just to kick Graham in the knackers, let’s make sure the only ATM in the terminal is broken.

The world and his mate seemed to be trying to get home this Sunday and the coach companies were not playing ball.

Mario and his mum looked after me, though. They were heading home to Cuidad Guyana – and I had to pass through there on the way to Boa Vista in Brazil. We combined forces and they managed to blag me on board a bus to Puerto La Cruz with them using someone else’s ticket and I managed to pay in US dollars. Baring in mind all the other buses were sold out until Tuesday, this was a lucky break for your ginger host.

Everything was sweet, and so after a pleasant afternoon spent sweating and choking on the exhaust fumes in a dirty concrete bus station, I was on my way – a roundabout way of getting to Brazil, but a way nonetheless.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Mario

    Hi Graham,.,,this is mario…i hope ur doing great,,,my mon say hi!!! take care men..ur website is awesome!!!

  2. Sansel

    So you hit Bogota (chilly isn’t?) 😀
    Good thing I’m on the northern coast, is hotter than any side of the country, if not the continent

  3. Cesar

    I looked forward to the start of the program on NatGeo. I had many ideas about what would show in my country. But what was my surprise when I saw the map you spent on Colombia without even mentioning it. Not what the prejudices that the English have with my country, but it is you who lose

  4. gamin

    just watched you in NatGeo TV, and we want to say you are such a looser traveling the way you are… more concerned about setting world records than getting to know the places you “step foot on” and its people.
    Fortunately the editors of your show didn’t leave you mentioning Colombia at all when you misteriouly went from Ecuador to Venezuela.

    You think you are traveling like no one but really no one would want to travel like you… at the end of your trip you will say to your friends and aquantancies you’ve been all around the world, but when they’d ask you how is this place or the people from that other one, you will not be even able to give then a very vague description without lying.

    Huevon, deje de hacer esos viajes maricas, que no esta haciendo nada.

    PS: the email address is the real one.

    1. Graham

      I think I’d be able to give a very detailed description of nearly all the countries I’ve been to – what you fail to understand is that I’ve been to many of these places before; hung out, met the locals, seen the sights… but that’s not what this challenge is about.

      I find it sad that when you read “Around The World In 80 Days” as a kid you must have thought of it not as a cracking adventure story but a missed opportunity to visit some museums and learn to tango. I also find it sad that you presumably also look at the achievements of round-the-world yacht racers in the same way (they go around the planet not meeting any other human beings! Loosers!) as well as people who climb Everest, trek to the South Pole or fly to the moon.

      I’m not doing this thing to give a free advertisement for the tourist board of any given country, I’m doing it as a personal challenge: one that has NEVER been done before. By anyone. Ever. And to be honest with you, I can’t see anyone repeating this feat for a good few years yet: maybe you’d like to try, but by the aggressive and arrogant tone of your message, I don’t think you’d get very far 😉

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