Dogs of the Gambia, West Africa

Cast of Extras - Dogs, dogs, everywhere! © Helen Jones-Florio Dogs of Gambia
A Cast of Extras – Dogs, dogs, everywhere! Jason Florio has made some new friends © Helen Jones-Florio

Looking forward to seeing our four-legged friends, again… soon.

Walkin' the dogs, of the Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
‘The Pack’, – Kalu, Wolf, White Tip & Wolf, Cape Point, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

See more of these little beauties

Dogs of the Gambia

 

Beach dogs - Wolf, White Tip and Juju © Helen Jones-Florio
Beach dogs – Wolf, White Tip, and Juju, Cape Point, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Follow our travels on Instagram – @floriotravels
White Tip & Wolf on monkey watch © Helen Jones-Florio Dogs of Gambia
White Tip & Wolf on monkey watch © Helen Jones-Florio
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Dogs of The Gambia, West Africa – AKA ‘It’s a Dog’s Life’

Dogs of The Gambia, West Africa

 

White Tip & Wolf on monkey watch © Helen Jones-Florio Dogs of Gambia
White Tip & Wolf on monkey watch © Helen Jones-Florio

 

One of our favourite pastimes, when in The Gambia, is hanging out with the #9 pack of rescue dogs – and assorted random beach dogs.

Beach walks and making documentaries, with Jason Florio

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Each and every one of them has real character, which we also have A.K.A. names for too: White Tip / ‘It’s All About Me‘ (because she demands ALL the attention); Rascal/’Little Titch‘(the smallest, yet the feistiest of the pack!); Wolf/’Silent Bob‘ (the stealthiest dog I have ever met); Kalu/’Black Dog‘ (ermm…not a very inspired AKA…he migrated from the Indian restaurant across the street to #9, and ‘Kalu’ is an Indian word for black); Junior/’JuJu‘ (and, sometimes, ‘Teenager‘, because he can sleep for Gambia!).

 

Beach dogs - Wolf, White Tip and Juju © Helen Jones-Florio
Beach dogs – Wolf, White Tip and Juju, Cape Point Beach, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Follow @floriotravels on Instagram for daily travel, dogs, the occasional cat or monkey, photo updates, with a little of our documentary work thrown into the mix.

It’s a Dog’s Life, West Africa

Searching for images on my hard drive back-up, recently, I began to see a pattern – dogs feature prominently, in our various journeys and travels.

DOGS AND FARMERS KEDOUGOU
Farmers with their dogs, Kedougou, Senegal © Jason Florio, River Gambia Expedition

 

DOGS AND KIDS
Kids and Dogs, Djinji, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio – River Gambia Expedition

 

DOG RIVER GAMBIA KEDOUGOU
The guardian of the River Gambia dog, Kedougou, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio River Gambia Expedition

 

DOG & DONKEY BANSANG
The donkey loving dog (or the dog loving donkey?), Bansang, The Gambia © Jason Florio

 

GOATS AND DOG STANDOFF
‘You are outnumbered, pooch!’ – dog and goat standoff, Kedougou, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio
Jason Florio chatting with a local with beach dogs, Bijilo.
One of our guides on our walk along the coastline of The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

 

And, the dogs who have a piece of my heart – The Gang of Seven:

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‘Chase me, chase me!’ Wolfie and White Tip, Cape Point, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
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Beware the Crocodiles! These dogs are fearless! Wolfie, Rascal, (Noisey) Nelly, and Kalu (the others are in there somewhere!) – Cape Point, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

 

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King of the Pack: Lion, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio cc
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Kalu, the newest edition to the ‘Pack of 7’ (after defecting from the Indian restaurant across the street) © Helen Jones-Florio
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Me with my sentinals Lion, Susie (white dog), and Nelly, Cape Point, The Gambia © Jason Florio/Instagram

 

Lest we forget… the inimitable, Mr P (a.k.a Poet, Poe, Poetta, the P-sta, P-Diddly…), the dog star of Portobello Road, London. We rescued him when he was two or three years old, and he graced us with his serene presence until he reached the grand old age of 17 or 18.

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R.I.P. Mr P, June 7th 2011. Gone, but never ever forgotten

 

 

Back in The Gambia, West Africa – images ©Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

A recap, from The Gambia, West Africa – April 2018

Street Life, Serrekunda, The Gambia- young girls playing ©Helen Jones-Florio
Street life, Serrekunda, The Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio
Here we are, back in our second home…

As ever, there are lots to see and do – and, a little time out from work to reconnect and celebrate with old friends

Black and white, Samba and Fatou's wedding celebrations, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio
Samba and Fatou’s wedding celebrations, The Gambia © Jason Florio

 

And, of course, there is always the #9 pack…

 

Wolf, one of a pack of stray Gambian dogs, from the beach ©Helen Jones-Florio
‘Wolf’, one of the many waifs and strays who come to the compound for food, shelter, and a little pampering from us – Gambian dogs ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Peaceful marches…

Connected to what we were up to last year, early on in the year and later in November, we headed over to Serrekunda and joined in on the Solo Sandeng Memorial March, April 14th, 2018, which took place to commemorate the prominent activist – of the opposition party, UDP, and youth leader –  and other victims. Sandeng was murdered whilst in custody on this day in 2016, under the old dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh. His death sparked a national outcry and the beginning of the end of Jammeh’s brutal rule – Gambians had decided that enough was enough. Saturday’s march would never have been possible under the former regime, without there blood being shed and/or lives lost

Solo Sandeng Memorial March, Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio
Solo Sandeng Memorial March, The Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Images from the Memorial March for murdered UDP activist, Solo Sandeng, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio
Memorial March for murdered UDP activist, Solo Sandeng, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio
Memorial March for murdered UDP activist, Solo Sandeng, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Memorial March for murdered UDP activist, Solo Sandeng, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer and documentary film maker, Jason Florio at work, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer and documentary filmmaker, Jason Florio at work, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

On Monday, 16th April, we headed over to the capital of The Gambia, Banjul, to join a peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh‘s regime, to demand that the Gambian government release the bodies of exhumed victims, and to open a dialogue with the families to help keep them informed of what they are doing to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Mr Njie during a vigil, in Banjul, for victims of the Jammeh regime holding a picture of his nephew Nyass who was killed during an attempted coup in 2014 to bring down the dictatorship, Gambia © Jason Florio
Mr. Njie during a vigil, in Banjul, for victims of the Jammeh regime holding a picture of his nephew Nyass who was killed during an attempted coup in 2014 to bring down the dictatorship © Jason Florio.

 

A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh's regime, holding placards of their missing family members, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh’s regime, holding pictures of their ‘disappeared’ loved ones © Helen Jones-Florio
A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh's regime © Helen Jones-Florio
A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh’s regime, Banjul, Gambia, with a police escort © Helen Jones-Florio.

 

We are looking forward to the next few weeks, here in The Gambia, to see what else our journey presents to us… feel free to follow us

@floriotravels / @jasonflorio

on Instagram – for regular photo updates.

Helen Jones-Florio

Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa
Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa, Nov 2017

 

 

 

The art of walking, and the people you meet along the way…

 

‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ © Jason Florio – from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey‘
‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ – Helen Jones-Florio and the team © Jason Florio – from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey

 

Wherever we are in the world, we walk, a lot, Florio and myself. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the only ways to truly discover a place – and the people who live there. One time, in 2009, we decided to walk around the small West African country of The Gambia. A mere 930km, with three Gambian friends, two donkeys (‘Neil’ & ‘Paddy’.), and a cart to carry our camping and photography equipment. As one does.

Along the way, we met many people and photographed quite a few of them. Amongst them, around 43 village chiefs and elders, the photos of which are now award-winning portraits, ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey

‘Silafando’ The Gambia  © Jason Florio

 

Another time, we took it upon ourselves to take a stroll along the coastline of The Gambia – a much shorter walk of around 80km. Again, we met and made friends with many people along the way.

Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Making friends, Jinack Island, the Gambia © Jason Florio
Making friends, Jinack Island, the Gambia © Jason Florio

 

Historian and local fisherman, Modou Sonko, Jinack Island, Gambia-image © Jason Florio
Historian and local fisherman, Modou Sonko, Jinack Island, Gambia-image © Jason Florio

 

And, our walks in certain places always seem to attract a good deal of attention

'Any chance of a bit of privacy?' Camping in a the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio
‘Any chance of a bit of privacy around here?’ Camping in the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio
Image: ©Jason Florio-2009 Gambian boy on his horse & farmer, on his bicycle, near the town of Basse, The Gambia, West Africa
Gambian boy on his horse & farmer, on his bicycle, near the town of Basse, The Gambia, West Africa Image: ©Jason Florio-2009
For some reason, we seem to attract dogs, wherever we go! Jason Florio and ‘Seven’ (from Footsteps Eco Lodge) talking to the cockle collectors, Gambia – image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Of late, we’ve taken to meandering – going off-piste whenever possible – discovering the clifftops, valleys, and crevices of Malta.

Graffiti - President Trump and broken wall, Malta ©Jason Florio
Graffiti – President Trump, Malta ©Jason Florio

 

And, just when you think that you’ve seen all it has to offer, the small island in the middle of the Mediterranean (sandwiched somewhere between Sicily and the North African coast) never fails to reveal something more of itself.

Scenes from Malta - photography by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
Scenes from Malta – photography by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio/Instagram

 

Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio
Walking the Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio – image © Helen Jones-Florio

Are we in Texas?!

Are we in Texas? Wind turbine, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Are we in Texas? Wind turbine, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
Follow us on Instagram for regular travel photo updates
@floriotravels / @jasonflorio
These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking
These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking

Walking the Victoria Lines, ‘The Great Wall of Malta’

Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

‘Originally known as the North West Front and sometimes unofficially known as the Great Wall of Malta…a complex network of linear fortifications known collectively as the Victoria Lines

What a revelation… to find so much nature, and tranquility, particularly after having read recently the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta equated with the word: ‘cementation’‘. And, in some areas, justifiably so. Where we live, for example, we are surrounded by deconstruction, reconstruction, new construction, behemoth cranes, and all the constant racket (and dust!) one can expect from the aforementioned.

From our starting point in a small village near to Mgarr,on the west coast of Malta, we walked along the Victoria Lines, across the country – with views (largely) unimpeded by towering metal structures – clambering up and down steep man-made steps, down into rocky ravines, clambering over lush countryside (yet another, much welcomed, revelation), with ‘distant sea views’ (much used by island estate agents), all the way to Medlienna on the east coast. Although officially 12km distance, we managed to cover a total of 22km, mainly due to the Victoria Lines wall no longer being there, in places, causing us to go (albeit pleasantly) off-piste a couple of times!

 

Off-piste! Where has the Victoria Lines gone to?! © Helen Jones-Florio
Off-piste! ‘Where have the Victoria Lines gone to now?!’ © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Walking the Victoria Lines, Malta
Back on track – the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Signpost - Victoria Lines, Malta
One of the very few signposts along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Guard dogs - with wagging tails! © Helen Jones-Florio
Guard dogs – with wagging tails! © Helen Jones-Florio

 

And very friendly donkeys!
And very friendly donkeys! © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio
Walking the Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Well recommended. So, get your walking boots on!

Helen Jones-Florio

Almost done! Walking the Victoria Line
A fine vista and almost done! L-R: Davide, Andrej, yours truly, Zane,RYP© Jason Florio

 

Reference: Walking in Malta by Paddy Dillon  & Map Guide

GPS Map - Victoria Lines, Malta
Thanks to Mr Florio for keeping track – GPS Map – Victoria Lines, Malta

 

Home: Donating the Gambian village chiefs exhibition to the National Centre for Arts & Culture

The handing over of the Gambian village chiefs - the Alkalo's - to Hassoum Ceesay, of the National Centre for Arts and Culture, The Gambia, West Africa
L-R: Jason Florio, Hassoum Ceesay (NCAC), Helen Jones-Florio (‘White Tip’ dog) – the handing over of the Gambian village chiefs – the Alkalo’s – to Hassoum Ceesay, of the National Centre for Arts and Culture, The Gambia, West Africa

 

What goes around: On our most recent trip down to The Gambia, West Africa, we were excited to be able to donate Jason Florio’s award-winning portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders, ‘Silafando: a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘ to the National Centre for Arts & Culture, in The Gambia.

In April last year, we exhibited the portraits in The Gambia (with huge thanks to the organizers of the Athens Photo Festival, where Florio was invited to exhibit this series, in 2013, for shipping the prints all the way from Greece to West Africa!), which were taken during our 930km walk around one of Africa’s smallest mainland countries, in 2009.

 

Silafando exhibition, Gaya, The Gambia
Opening Night at Gaya Arts Café: Lamin, Abdou & Ebou (2nd & 3rd from left – who were our River Gambia Expedition team mates), Helen, Florio, Sarjo (Abdou’s daughter), and Samba Leigh (who was on the 930km walk) – Gaya Art Cafe exhibition opening

 

Packing the Prints
‘Lion’ dog oversees the packing of the prints, with Florio & Hassoum. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

'Lion' overseeIMG_3761
The packing is complete and approved (by ‘Lion’) . Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

 

Handshake and thanks, Florio & Hassoum
Florio and Hassoum shake hands. The village chief exhibition on route to the National Centre for Arts & Culture, in Banjul, The Gambia. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

In the coming months, once we hear back from Hassoum, Baba Ceesay, and all at the NCAC, we’ll be posting more news as to where the portraits will eventually be housed and exhibited, in their permenant collection, in The Gambia next.

Helen Jones-Florio

The Mass Attraction of Dawn walking in Malta

   It’s official, I have joined the ranks of the walking   masses!

 

SLIEMA SUNSET1
The sun rising in the East, over the Mediterranean Sea, Sliema, Malta iPhone image © Helen Jones-Florio.

 

Not that I haven’t always been a walker (Florio and I once walked around an entire West African country – albeit tiny, but 930km is by no means a stroll along the beach – oh, hang on, actually we’ve done that too!), but the point is I have never been one to gravitate towards what the masses do – right from my young punk rock self, back in the day in the UK, drawn towards a scene where we were then considered ‘outcasts of society‘ (that’s the polite way of putting it – you really don’t want to know the shocking names we got called, or what we got thrown at us, as we strutted past a bunch of market traders on a weekend, cockily showing off our newest Crazy Color barnet (fair/hair, get it?) de jour – red, blue, pink… .).

     “Och aye, Helen Jane, you’ll grow out of it

as our old lovely Dad was apt to say – rather wistfully. Somehow, though, thankfully I never did. Ok, not that I sport a different tropical-bird-coloured hairdo every week (he was right about that part), these days, but I do still tend to steer away from what the masses do, preferring to go down the route less travelled, which could mean making the very easy choice of Kinshasa, DR Congo over, say, a nice pre-planned itinerary holiday on a Greek island, to going out of my way to find a less-trampled country pathway, where I feel sure there will be little chance of bumping into anyone else.

However, after spending the last week heading out of the door just before the sun comes up, iPhone in hand, walking purposefully down towards the sea, only to find dozens and dozens of other people who gravitate to the seafront early every morning too, running or power-walking along the promenade, I can certainly see the attraction, can’t you?

SLIEMA SUNSET2 AGAINST ST JULIANS
Me and my shadow – the rising sun towards St Julians Bay, Malta iPhone image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Mind you, I do veer off the promenade as soon as possible, for an – almost – solitary walk over the rocks, bar the occasional dog walker or a lone guy practising Tai Chi, away from the masses. Just how I like it.

Helen Jones-Florio

More images on Floriotravels/Instagram

Wish you were here – postcards from the edges of another place and time

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio, Loch Lomond, Scotland

 

I once read an interesting travel article by a writer, Guy Trebay, about how he still sends postcards from wherever his travels take him to. I say ‘still’ because it does seem, at least for the vast majority of people I know, as if the action of putting pen to paper (or card) and writing ‘wish you were here’ is most definitely a thing of the past.

What with the advent of the ‘electronic postcards’ – i.e. Twitter, Facebook, iPhones, and blogs such as this one (we are guilty – see ‘postcards‘ posts)  – snail mail seems far too… well, slow. Not only from sticking the postcard in the mail box, then its journey from the senders location to the recipients location (and depending where you are in the world, you could even get back before your postcard arrives – or doesn’t even reach its distination!), there is also the physical aspect that one has to put in to find a befitting card, and then wracking your brains to find a witty way to compress your travel stories onto a tiny 3 1/2 x 5″area;  if you want to avoid the clichéd ‘wish you were here’ or ‘wish you weren’t here’.  And, don’t forget the  postage stamp – these days, if you don’t want to buy a book of stamps (of which the remainder will probably sit on a shelf, gathering dust), as most stores no longer sell single stamps, you will also have to line up at the post office.  To much time, thought, and effort… perhaps?

On the whole, we seem happy to have shrunk our worlds into the electronic medium of (often round-robin because it saves time) communication and, hey, I am more than guilty of taking this easy option of late. There was a time when, whilst on my travels, I wouldn’t think twice about sending a postcard  – if only to my dad, to add to the collection, stuck on his fridge (with magnets, also from mine and my sisters travels). It seems such a shame that we don’t take the time to hunt out interesting, quirky, or clichéd postcards – or make your own from photographs you’ve taken –  looking for just the right card for, say, your best mate, the one that only they would get the joke, the nuance, of the particular chosen card.

As Mr Trebay so succinctly put it:

Historians of Facebook and Twitter will be left to scrounge around the internet for the fugitive relics of the present communication age’.

Not for them, scene upon scene of the diverse wonders of far off places – the sun set over a Costa Rican beach; camels overshadowed by monolithic pyramids; African drummers around a bonfire; or, heaven forbid, those ‘naughty’ 70’s cartoon postcards, depicting two old men, sitting on striped deck chairs, eyes popping out of their heads as two young, comically over-endowed busty, blonds (who apparently have more fun – allegedly) walk past in itsy-bitsy bikini’s,  with some lewd comment written underneath, a la: “eeeh, Stan, you don’t get many of those to the pound these days!”

Let’s not deprive ourselves  of this ancient(ish) ritual – apparently, the first picture postcard was printed in 1840 in London, UK – nor the pleasure of our friends, or loved ones,  picking their post up off the mat, shuffling through the usual generic brown enveloped bills, boring circulars… only to come across a flash of colour in amongst the mundane and, moreover, along with a personalised hand written note on the back.

How refreshingly old-fashioned, I say.

Helen Jones-Florio 

(first posted on May 25th 2010, NYC)

HJF_ALNWICK BEACH IMG_8381
Wish you were here – HJF, Alnmouth Beach, Northumberland © Jason Florio