One of our loyal readers, whom we will call AJ, asked the following a while ago and we're just getting around to answering (paraphrased): 1)Do we carry a suitcase full of cash with us? 2) Do we have to buy bottled water everywhere? and 3) Why did we choose to go north through Guyana rather than starting in Georgetown and going south?
All great questions. We did bring a lot of cash, mostly because of the Venezuela black market situation. Between the two of us, we had about 1200 dollars, mostly in Pacsafe money belts. These are normal nylon belts with a zippered compartment down the back. Unlike a normal moneybelt, it is nearly impossible to notice anything extra. We did not think that finding ATMs in most countries would be a problem, but that has not always been true. Entering Guyana, we found no ATMs until Georgetown and really depleted our cash. In Suriname, they had ATMs, but almost none took Visa (it is not where we wanted to be) and most of the ATMs were out of cash. In hindsight, we probably should have brought more cash.
We filter all our water with the filter that we brought. At first, this worked really well. The filter clogged after about 30 gallons rather than the promised 150 though and is now very slow. We are hoping the second filter is better. If not, we will reevaluate carrying a filter, but we hate having to rely on finding stores and then wasting all the plastic bottles (that normally end up in the river in South America).
The choice of routes through South America was determined in part through roads and borders. Guyana and Venezuela don't like one another because of a territory dispute, so you can't go from Venezuela to Guyana.