Moto Taxi Boys, Labé, Fouta Djallon, Guinea Conakry. Image ©Jason Florio from the River Gambia Expedition
Moto Taxi Boys, on the streets of Labé, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa ©Jason Florio

‘RIVER GAMBIA EXPEDITION

December 2012: ‘Labé, the capital of the Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry, is motorcycle city. The streets are overrun with thousands of cheap Chinese-manufactured bikes and ‘moto- taxis’ are the way to travel, carrying a minimum of 2-3 passengers. As we walked around the town, we constantly darted out of  the way as  a ‘moto’ zoomed towards us, at maximum speed – within inches of us – “à ton, à ton!”. The expression ‘take no prisoners’ seemed rather fitting, on the frenetic, horn-blaring, streets of the capital, as we leaped and scurried out the pathway of motorcycles, coming from all directions!

In Labé, there are too many accidents every day.

In Labé, there are too many accidents every day.” Saif, our local fixer, told us as he led us through the clamorous, dusty, stinking, litter-filled streets of the downtown area. Despite the moto-taxi dodging, and the putrid aromas, Labè is a vibrant, animated, friendly place – ‘Jarama‘s (local Pula language greeting), ‘bonjour‘s, and ‘ca va’s abound, from every smiling, curious person we pass, as intrigued by the two ‘portos’ (white people/travelers/tourists) as we are of the streets of the West African city.

Little did we know then, the River Gambia Expedition team would spend almost 10 bone-shuddering hours hurtling down mountains from the source of the River Gambia, in the highlands of the Fouta Djallon, on the back of our respective moto-taxi riders bikes! A story for another day.

Words by Helen Jones-Florio – extract from the River Gambia Expedition. Images ©Jason Florio

‘River Gambia expedition

Moto Taxi Boys, on the streets of Labé, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa ©Jason Florio

floriophoto.com

River Gambia Expedition: Moto Taxi rider, Ebu, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio
Helen’s moto-taxi rider, Ebu, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands © Jason Florio
Helen & ‘mototaxi’ rider, Ebu, and River Gambia Expedition team member, Ebou with his rider – leaving Mali Ville, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio
Helen & her moto-taxi rider, Ebu (AKA ‘Stoner’), and River Gambia Expedition team member, Ebou, with his rider – leaving Mali Ville, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

Current Location: July 2020 – Malta

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