Updated ‘A Year in the Life of…’: 12/31/14
Thankfully, all is now quiet on the ‘Smiling Coast‘ of The Gambia, after yesterdays ‘attempted coup’.
It’s now been a little over a year since we packed our bags and left behind our much loved apartment, in Greenwich Village, to temporarily decamp the all too comfortable familiarities of our cosmopolitan New York City life, to the tiny Republic of The Gambia, West Africa – a country that both of us are equally familiar with, having spent over 17 years coming backwards and forwards, (‘ikatah, ikanah’), individually and, during the last five years, as a couple.
At times, the transition has been a stretch, having left behind all that NYC has to offer, the things we coolly took for granted – museums, photography galleries, spectacular architecture, cultural diversity…the constant sensory overload.
However (despite the Ebola epidemic – which has tragically effected so many in three other West African countries and , although not one single case has been reported here, Gambia has been marred by the outbreaks…the results of which have yet to fully emerge), we’ve found that this narrow slither of land has all of the above mentioned to offer too, as we’ve enjoyed a hectic year of working with, amongst others, the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC – producing portraits of the traditional masquerades); we’ve exhibited our ‘Photos Tell Stories Photography Workshops’ students work at Alliance Française (and we’re planning to exhibit Jason’s ‘Silafando’ portraits, from our 2009 ‘A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush’ expedition, with NCAC, early next year); we’ve taken a stroll along the entire coastline of the country, staying in some of the most architecturally inspiring lodges in The Gambia (story to be published shortly). It’s all here… we just need all our friends from NYC to decamp and life will be complete! However, even that balances itself out here, as old friendships continue to grow, our circle of new friends expands, and we constantly meet inspiring folk who pop into the country from all over Africa and the rest of the world.
Aside from the work we’ve been doing in The Gambia, this past year, Jason has been off on his travels, on assignment for various clients – including the New York Times, Oprah Magazine, and Men’s Journal, which has taken him to other parts of West and East Africa. He’s also traveled up to Spain and Turkey (PepsiCo), back to NYC (Tablet Magazine), and, we’ve just returned from assignment in Ghana for Concern Universal, who we work regularly with.
Judging by this past year, and very recent events here in The Gambia, I’ll wager that there is plenty to keep us busy – and entertained – for quite some time, here in West Africa and further afield.
Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful New Year
The Florios – Helen & Jason
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Dedicated to Matthew Power – 1974-2014