Tuesday 29 October

The night is very hot and the bed not especially comfortable, and I am wide awake at 5.30 am. At a slightly more reasonable time, I make my way over to the bar by the lagoon to see if there is any chance of coffee. Happily, there is. Afterwards, I wander into the Indian part of the village and look inside the church. Back at the beach, I run into Debbie who has found some yogurt for breakfast.

The landing strip is just a few minutes from the rooms, but we have a long wait while Patricia tries to locate our pilot. We have a twin-prop plane between us this time, somewhat larger than the six-seaters that flew us to Kavak, quite a relief to some of the party.

Time passes, and it emerges that although we now have a pilot, we do not have the key to the aircraft. More time passes, then we see the pilot wheel some steps over to the plane and climb up with a broom in one hand. He seems to be fiddling around with one of the cockpit windows, and then he passes the broom-handle in through the window and pokes around, finally succeeding in releasing the door!

We have a good view of the waterfall complex as we take off, but soon we enter cloud. The return route seems to be very different to the flight to Kavak, passing over a large area of water, Lake Guri, created in a massive hydro-electric project that supplies well over half of Venezuela’s electricity needs. Unfortunately, the project has been an environmental disaster, and the rapid silting of the reservoir is causing massive operational problems.

Miguel is waiting with the minibus (now immaculate) at Ciudad Bolívar airport, and we make a quick get-away in order to get moving on our seven hour drive to Caripe. After about an hour we reach Puerto Ordaz where we stop for lunch at a rather excellent patisserie in a swish shopping complex. It is a (relatively) brief stop, and we soon continue to the ferry at nearby Ciudad Guayana, where we cross back over the Orinoco. The landscape is brutally industrial, grim factory complexes on the bank behind us.

After the ferry, flat countryside and pine plantations. As dusk falls, we see nodding donkey oil pumps and flares like torches in the fading light. The road begins to climb and it is getting late. Miguel is not hanging about as we swing round hairpin bend after hairpin bend.

We arrive around 7.30 pm at a holiday home park. Michael and I have an apartment between us that would sleep six, with two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchenette and living room, but no hot water. My steak for dinner at the restaurant is quite excellent, but the waiter shows no interest in bringing us the bill and it is very late by the time we finish.