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009 Venezuela

Day 13: Can’t Get Out That Way

Woke up in Mario’s house. His family had been so accommodating, taking in a big ginger stray like me for the night and looking after me on my trip through Venezuela. I can’t thank them enough. I headed back to the bus terminal and jumped on the first bus to Santa Elena on the border with Brazil.

Oh, you might be looking at the map and wondering why I can’t just enter Guyana from Venezuela. I wondered that too. Well, that would be because Venezuela for some god-only-known reason thinks that it owns half of Guyana. Yep – it’s marked on maps and ‘Land to be Reclaimed’!

Never mind that it has been a British colony since 1796 (before then it was Dutch and before then Arawak – the native people of the land). Never mind that it has never been Venezuelan, ever, or that it’s people speak English, are part of the British Commonwealth and play cricket. Hey-ho.

On the bus, I got chatting to a wonderful old dude called Francisco. He was 81 years old, his parents were from Trinidad, he was born in Venezuela, his wife was from Grenada and he now lives in Washington DC, where he will be selling flags for inauguration day next week. He reckons five million people are going to turn up. A good day for flag sellers – a great day for mankind. I only wish the incoming President got to ceremonially kick the outgoing President up the behind with a pointy shoe.

So we headed up into the Grand Savannah – an area of Venezuela filled with vast flat mountains – tepuis­ – like gigantic loaves of bread or Ayres Rock grown by several hundred miles outward. Covered in grass, these vast plains-on-top-of-mountains are the home of the Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world – 16 times higher than Niagara. The only way to see it is to fly or hike for days, so it’s not on my itinerary this time.

The driver was powering along the road like a man possessed and I thought I was making good time.

But Venezuela had one last trick up its evil little sleeve – the border closed at 7pm. I got there at 7.15pm.


So not only could I not continue to Boa Vista in Brazil for an early start on Guyana in the morning, I had to stay on the border in an overpriced prison cell, sorry, “hotel”. The shower was cold, my room smelt of turnip and thank god mosquitoes don’t like me much or I’d be downing the quinine like a man possessed.

Damn! Why does this keep happening? If the border closed three hours previously, it wouldn’t be so frustrating.

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 8 Comments

  1. nelson

    Hey man, I’m from Venezuela and I know that it sucks, taxis are expensive and a lot of buildings in Caracas are UGLY (I wanna cry everytime I imagine how amazing were those colonial houses…), the bureaucracy is HORRIBLE and stupid, I’m even going to the US for one year this august, but you have been too strict with us! Man you didn’t visit a lot of amazing places that you should have visited, there are lots of bad things here but we have many great places too

  2. Mauro

    I am venezuelan too.. I’ve been travelling around many many countrys too..and always I have respect for any country visited. I think..the “silly” here is you.. you should to respect all the places where you are.. or you think your land is perfect..? I’ve been there.. and believe me.. It sucks . all the time is grey…and the people too..

    I really like your adevneture around the world.. but since I read your posts..Uhmmmm… I think you need to learn yet many “rules”

  3. vICTOR




  4. Roberto

    Honestly, people like you will never be welcome in Venezuela (the happiest country in the world BTW), first of all, no one invited you, secondly, we do not care what you think of us, third, we have enough oil to kick insolent tourists asses from territorial-stealer countries such as UK, so, yes, half of Guyana belongs to Venezuela and we do not care what a single bitter British like you think about. Good bye.

  5. José

    I’ll start my comment saying:

    Stupid Graham. Silly, silly Graham.

    There is nothing to do with you. Don’t they teach you anything in your stupid and silly country?

    I have nothing more to say because I’ll waste my time. You’re unable to learn.

  6. Graham

    This would be a tremendously dull blog if I just roamed around this planet saying how brilliant everything was. All countries have their shortcomings, including my own: see ‘REAL ENGLAND’

    We should ALL be free to discuss these shortcomings in a friendly and jovial way without threats or intimidation WHETHER WE HAIL FROM THAT PARTICULAR COUNTRY OR NOT.

    The fact that there is no legal border between Venezuela and Guyana is of interest to me and to this expedition, and the reason why there is no border is as unexpected as it is bizarre.

    The claim the government of Venezuela makes to half of Guyana is undoubtedly detrimental to peace and stability in the region and is blissfully ignored by just about every other country on the planet. If oil-rich Venezuela got its way, half of Guyana would be annexed, thousands of poor Guyanese families would be forced to leave their homes and the resulting trauma could spill over into bloodshed and even war.

    Why would anyone want that?

    Historically speaking, corrupt politicians have always used land disputes like this to drum up support for their (usually wicked) regimes. You only have to look at Hitler’s dream of Lebensraum and the annexation of half of Czechoslovakia to see where these dubious (and mostly pointless) claims can lead to.

    Venezuela is big and powerful enough to not need to intimidate or bully the smaller poorer countries around it, cutting off trading links and diplomatic links does nothing but further impoverish an already impoverished nation. To defend this farcical land claim is greedy, indecent and reveals a lack of moral and intellectual vigour.

    Think for yourselves, guys, see the bigger picture; don’t be manipulated by greedy politicians.

    And PLEASE don’t see every minor criticism of your particular country as something that you must take deep personal offence at. If you want to give me a list of stupid things that the UK does or has done in the past (wouldn’t be hard), I’d probably agree with 99% of the list!!

  7. Jesús

    Stupid Graham. Silly, silly Graham. LOL

  8. Mauno Viitanen

    Some people here should chill off.. Are we supposed to love everything about a country? NO! Do we have to say pretty things about bad times we spend somewhere? NO! So guys, please do not take things personally.

    About the Guyana thing, its not like we want to invade them and conquer, no. There’s lot of background on how much of Guyana should be venezuelan. Personally I think Venezuela shouldn’t keep trying to “get it” but improve the cooperation between the 2 territories

    I’m venezuelan

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