A twelve hours bus night ride from Ciudad Bolivar brought us to the small settlement of Santa Elena de Uairen on the Brazilian border. The “Buscama”, the busses linking major cities in Venezuela, are highly comfortable, but, as we might have already mentioned, the temperature inside is 14 degrees, now having this artic breeze hitting your body for 12 hours can be challenging. Even though we wore all the warm clothes we had, we were freezing!
The only reason to stop in Santa Elena de Uairen is to prepare a trekking to Roraima, the highest Tepuí with almost 2.800 meters or trips to the Gran Sabana. Nevertheless we planned to rest here for three days to recover from the trips to the Orinoco Delta and to Canaima / Angel Falls. We treated ourselves to the very comfortable but also pricy Hotel Lucrecia, its pool we unfortunately only could use once because of the rather chilly weather.
As it turned out we could not have left earlier for Roraima anyway because the trek was closed for the first time in its history. Two days before our arrival a porter had drowned in a flooded river. The group had insisted on crossing against the guide’s warning.
We passed the time exploring every corner of the village and trying various eateries, this way we discovered the popular “Comida per kilo”, a Brazilian custom. A good deal we spent in internet cafés and sorting our many photos.
Santa Elena is close to the gold and diamonds mines of Paují, shops were these commodities can be sold are numerous in the village. Many “Indigenas” work in the mines and the work is excruciating, probably one of the reasons why heavy drinking is such a common sight in this place. We found out that one liter of the cheapest rum only costs 6.000 Bolivares, which equals about 1.5 USD.
While we were on Roraima and the even the days after our return the whole village was partying in the honour of its patroness Santa Elena. Unfortunately, this meant loud speakers playing at max. volume all night long and people getting dead drunk on the street. Nothing really exciting, and even on the last day, when we decided to try harder and join the party, we very soon gave up and went back to our hotel only to listen to an incredible amount of decibels till the wee hours …