(Part 2 is here)
It wasn't until late in the morning, almost close to 9 a.m, that I woke up. I think that hunger induces sleep in some people, for I had had just the sandwich and juice at around 6:30 p.m. last night and slept for at least 14 hours straight! Even as I woke up, I hardly felt any need for nutrition which I ascribe to lack of activity.
Most of the day was spent in the bus journey. The only incident of any consequence occurred at one of the myriad Punto de Controls where a bunch of military looking people boarded the bus and asked for people with luggage tags numbered 64 and 104. Mine was tag number 25. However, I must have aroused sufficient suspicion by my ineptitude in Spanish and was asked to show what I had in my luggage. The whole process lasted about 20 minutes and achieved nothing other than wastage of time.
I forgot to mention the Brazilian man who was travelling with us. By the time I woke up, the bus was mostly empty and very few of the original passengers from Caracas were still around. One addition on the way was a Brazilian man with matted hair. He had, in a display board, a number of amulets, one of which read Om (ॐ). He was trying to tell something about an esmeralda (which, I think, means emerald) amulet to a Lebanese person going to Santa Elena. He mentioned Goa, India, in that conversation, whereupon the Lebanese man, whom I had befriended, pointed to me and said that I was Indian too. The Brazilian then said that he found Goa nice since people there spoke Portuguese. I could do little more than smile. His hair and dress sense betrayed his being a hippie and Goa would be the right place for such a person to gravitate to in India.
The bus reached San Francisco de Yuruani at about 12:10 p.m. I decided to get off here, as per Tommy's advice. I was wary about finding anybody who spoke English and was ready to take the next bus to Santa Elena if I failed to. Thankfully, the guard at the Punto de Control pointed me to a man who spoke English. His name is Donald Hazlitt. His English is very fluent. I told him my objective and he found me a guide to Roraima. He also told me what I already knew from my Lonely Planet, that I could not proceed to Paraitepui the same day, because nobody is allowed beyond 1 p.m. However, he told me that the trek to Roraima can be completed in 4 days. The price was 300 BsF per day for the guide and 900 BsF for the jeep transport. I do feel that I overpaid here, but, as Donald told me, the price would've been the same had I been in a 4 person group, but I wanted to do this alone. My guide's name is Maritotto, shortened to Totto.
The rest of the day I spent writing and chatting up some locals. San Francisco de Yuruani is also called Kumarakapay - the valley of the Kumarak (bird) in Pemón. I was treated to a pleasant shower here, reminiscent of tropical rain in India. After a very long time, I could smell the mud during the rainfall and it felt wonderful. In contrast, the temperate rain that I am treated to in the States smells of nothing and feels dreary.
Later in the day, at dinnertime, Donald showed me that he had the DVD of the PBS documentary, The Lost World - The Living Edens. We watched this together. I retired to bed soon thereafter, calculating how to get to Ciudad Bolivar after returning and about making it to Angel Falls thereafter.