Boa Vista Round-Trip Blues – Boa Vista, Brazil


Route Santa Elena de Uairen, Venezuela – Boa Vista, Brazil
Distance 234Km (x2)
Travel Time 3 hours each way + Border Crossing Time
Road Conditions Good tarmac, potholed 70Km to Pacaraima
Weather Warm, humid
Terrain Jungle-Savannah
Food and Petrol Boa Vista, before and at Border , Sta Elena
Accommodation Pousada Monica, Santa Elena, Hotel Ideal, Boa Vista

The Brazilian border police officer stamps us through and as a parting comment flips through the passports and asks, “and of course you have your Venezuelan exit stamp…?”

Ebru and I look at each other – please no! We’re not going to lie to the guy, he’s got our passports in his hands right now… “No, you see, the Venezuelan border police confirmed to us yesterday that…”

CANCELLED – says the stamp on the stamp we just received to enter Brazil and they send us back to the Venezuelan border where a hundred Brazilian holiday makers are awaiting their turn. Merry Xmas!


It’s half past two in the afternoon by the time we leave the border and head towards Boa Vista. At least we know a place to stay, so we save ourselves some hassle by going back to the Hotel Ideal (55BRL/dbl incl breakfast, parking).

The next morning is spent riding around town to find a mechanic and hunting for spare parts. There’s a number of Honda shops in Boa Vista, some of them quite large. I speak to three Honda shops and decide on the big establishment (Millennium Motos Honda, Av Venezuela 120, Sao Vicente) on the main highway. The mechanic, Geyson, sounds like he knows his stuff well enough and they can get to work first thing tomorrow and they say they can get everything done by 12- or 14:00. This is important because I explain that I want to cross back to Venezuela again the same day. I want them to change the tensioner, oil & filter, brake pads, check the valve clearances, and give the bike a once-over: chain clean, grease the axles, all that. 08:00 they normally open but I’m told to be there at 07:30 so they can get started on time – excellent!

They quote me:

Revision Techinca (grease her up): 230BRL
Cam Chain Tensioner: 208BRL
2litres Oil + Filter: 67 BRL

Finding spares shops proves to be more difficult, but I am eventually directed towards the avenue Manoel Felipe, where there are a number of spares shops, such as Andrade Moto Pecas, Alternativo Moto Pecas, Moto Pecas Uniao.

Andrade turns out to be a total wanker – don’t go there! When I ask to see the tensioner I inquired about he gives me a look and refuses, asking me whether I even know what it looks like. I tell him I do, and when he brings me the specimen, it sure is the type of tensioner I need, but it’s not in its packaging and it’s broken, the shaft rattling around in its housing. I give them a little speech about delinquent attitude and then go away.

At the other shops I find more helpful people and I manage to get some chain lube, a spare alternative tensioner and a complete set of NX400 gaskets – surely not the best but some peace of mind when riding through Venezuela. I also took down some prices of other spares out of interest:

Original Honda Parts:
Cam Chain Tensioner – 211BRL / 55USD
Brake Pads Front: 174BRL / 87USD
Brake Pads Rear: 253BRL / 127USD
Pirelli MT60 Rear: 285BRL / 143USD

Alternatives Parts:
Cam Chain Tensioner – 30BRL / 15USD
Corbeq Brake Pads Front: 24BRL / 12USD
Corbeq Brake Pads Rear: 20BRL / 10USD
NX400 Gasket Kit: 45BRL / 23USD

Chain lube is lacking in northern Brazil. Though in most towns you’ll find a tube of the standard issue “Graca Branca” (for about 5BRL), which everybody uses, other brands such as Motul, BelRay or any other quality brand you may know of are rarely stocked. I don’t know what’s in it but during our trans-Amazonas adventure I smeared it in there nice and thick every day and it seems to have done the job. 🙂

Since we have some time left in the afternoon we take a stab at finding some laptop screen replacements, since we’re still running with that problem. But alas, Boa Vista is just as bad as Manaus for this: they quote us 350BRL (175USD) for Ebru’s 11.5″ LED and 450BRL(225USD) for my 12.1″ model. Crazy!

The following morning, 28th begins the next ordeal at Millennium Motos…. let me try to keep the long story short:

07:30 I arrive as told. Hardly anyone is there except reception, but the door is open and I park in and wait. Mechanics start dripping in over the next hour, but not Geyson – at 08:30 I’m told Geyson is apparently “at the bank”. I’m ignored but on the various occasions I inquire about getting the show on the road – because we agreed to be here 07:30, need to be done by midday, I am paying for hotel, food etc.” – I’m just gestured to sit down.

After two hours of waiting I’ve had enough. I’ve counted 28 motorbikes lined up in the work queue, but 8 mechanics are standing together at the end of the work-shop listening to loud music and shooting shit. Not a single bike on a single work-bench. I may be a time-obsessed “gringo” here or whatever they’d like to call it, but this is bullshit!


I kick off at the reception and he gives me a look as if I were some delinquent school-kid stepping out of line; he asks me for my cedula (tax number), which as a foreigner I don’t have – and this I have to make plain to this prick, even though he clearly knows it. He tries to fob me off again. Something needs to happen here. I’ve had it! I ask his name….

At first he thinks something funny has just happened, like I just tripped up on my way in or something. But I ask him again – YOUR NAME? WHAT’s YOUR POSITION? – gestapo style. I write down every bullshit answer he gives me in my notebook. I ask for the dueno – the boss. He’s confused but clearly no longer confident. He punts me off to some kid who’s clearly a sales app’ie from the show-room and I immediately give him the interrogation treatment as well: NAME? (take notes) RANK? (take notes) ARE YOU THE BOSS? (take notes) TAKE ME TO THE BOSS NOW! He fumbles with excuses – “boss not there…” – but quickly realizes it’s a losing battle so he whisks me up to a guy upstairs; I manage to make out the words on a plaque “Ivan Carneiro – Finance Manager”. Eureka! Gestapo treatment… note taking… then I lay my complaint on him.

Down the stairs we go together, to the in-house mechanics party room. (note taking) At first he’s not getting anywhere, trying to convince them that maybe it’d be a good idea to DO SOMETHING since we have a client waiting. They’re not convinced. They poke fun at him for a while. Then he himself kicks off, starts shouting around and getting things moving. Hallelujah!

Well, within minutes my bike is on a ramp and I have two mechanics working on it. And I’m right there with them watching every move, just as I like it, to avoid any dicking around. Interestingly, all the other ramps are now also occupied.

I watch the work going on and take notes at every step. I want to keep notes of the status of my motorcycle but it also helps maintain the pressure on these folks. Everything goes to plan – even better. The revision tecnica not only cleans y chain and greases my axles, but also cleans and greases my steering assembly and rear suspension arm.

The guy setting the valve clearance doesn’t seem to be too sure fo himself. At some point I see the guy fumbling for a gauge to set the escape valves, eventually he picks up one with no marking on it and goes ahead with that. “How can you be sure that’s 0.12mm?” I ask… I ask for the the most experienced guy in the room to do the procedure and make him use a gauge one with a label on it.

By 12:50 the work is done. Thank goodness for that. We can make Venezuela today. I head to reception for the bill. They’ve under-charged by about 70BRL. Normally I would say something… forget it!

I pick up Ebru and by 14:20 we’re buzzing back up the BR174. The border procedures take some time – a lot of people. We make it out of Brazil but not “into Venezuela”. Their office has closed by the time we get there. We head through to Santa Elena anyway, will just have to get those stamps tomorrow.


Happy to be back in Santa Elena, we check into Pousada Monica with a smile and set off to get something to eat. This is where we make an important discovery: for all the time we’ve been travelling through various places around the world and said to each other, “This place really needs a decent Turkish kebap/food place!”, here we have finally found one!

El Arabe is a brilliant little arabic/middle-eastern food place run by a friendly Syrian guy with a knack for catering. He’s definitely got the spirit for adventure because he never did this before coming to Venezuela, but damn does he do it well! Tasty falafel, mouth watering kibbe, humous and garlic yoghurt sauce and a shwarma (aka. kebap) designed for grown men with an appetite. Excellent!