Photo of the Day: Fixer-upper? Abandoned caravan, The Gambia, West Africa

Abandoned caravan, Bertil Harding Highway, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
Instagram: Dilapidated caravan, Bertil Harding Highway, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

Moto-Taxi boys – Labé’s got style, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa


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Motorcycle taxi boys, on the streets of Labé, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa © Jason Florio


Labé, the capital of Guinea-Conakry, up in the Fouta Djallon, is motorcycle city, overrun with thousands of Chinese-made bikes – and ‘moto taxis’ are the way to travel, carrying a minimum of 2-3 passengers a piece. As we walked around the town, we had to constantly dart out of  the way as  a ‘moto’ zoomed towards us, at maximum speed– within inches of us – “à ton, à ton!” (we have this expression: ‘taking no prisoners’, which seemed rather apt, on the frenetic, horn-blaring, streets of the capital, as we leapt and scurried out the pathway of motorcycles, coming from all directions!).  “In Labé, there are too many accidents every day.” Saif (our local fixer) told us, as he led us through the dusty, stinking, dirty, 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 (intrigued by the two ‘portos’ – white people/European) person we pass’  – words by Helen Jones-Florio – extract from ‘The Long and Winding Road… Kedougou, Senegal – Labé, Guinea-Conakry – and back again‘ Read more on the River Gambia Expedition blog.


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Ebu – on his moto-taxi, in Mali-Ville, Guinea-Conakry – and our (extremely bumpy!) ride back down the Fouta Djallon Highlands to Kedougou, Senegal.
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Motorcycle taxi boys, on the streets of Labé, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa © Jason Florio 
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Photographer, Jason Florio, gets details from moto-taxi rider, Labé, Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry – image © Helen Jones-Florio

Photo shoot location – Watch out for the crocodiles! The Gambia, West Africa

Those crocodiles are most definitely not ornamental! Jason Florio at work – image © Helen Jones-Florio


Kachikally Sacred Crocodile Pool is certainly an interesting place to shoot – you just need to watch your step, constantly. Thanks to Musa, our fixer (a person who is hired as a guide, due to their local knowledge of any given area, to help facilitate assignments) and caretaker of the pool, Jason and I met with some young Gambian boys, to work further on our traditional masquerade project, which we started last year, here in The Gambia.

The three boys turned up with a couple of rice sacks, a bunch of leafy branches, and what looked like a few scraps of bright red fabric. Within half an hour, they were transformed into Kankurangs, and  fully in character – jiggling branches, menacingly clashing machetes together, and omitting the rather alarming high-pitched screeches that seem to be the modus operandi of every Kankurang, and which always has the desired effect of unnerving everyone around them.

Jason Florio at work – image © Helen Jones-Florio


I’ll be posting more updates about this ongoing masquerade project as and when we find more subjects to photograph.


HJF – In search of masquerades at the Roots Homecoming Festival, 2014, The Gambia – image © Jason Florio


Related post: Kankurang on the beach




Looking back – Marathon Runners in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya

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Young shepherd boy & Helen Jones-Florio, The Great Rift Vallery, Iten, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine

I was in the middle of tidying up my desktop folders, when I came across the above image, from an assignment Jason (Florio) and I did a couple of years ago. This vista, of the Great Rift Valley,  still has the ability to take my breath away…one of the most enchanting places I have ever been to. So far. I suffer from vertigo too, so I can’t tell you how much convincing Jason had to do, to get me to sit out there on that rock, along with trying to look at ease!

Here’s more from the original post I put on our ‘River Gambia Expedition‘ site:

September 7th, 2012

AFAR Magazine ‘ Runners High’ – Words: Matt Gross. Images: Jason Florio

AFAR Magazine Cover - Kenya
Cover Shot: Jason Florio – Lake Bogoria, Kenya East Africa


The things we Florio’s get up to when we aren’t planning a River Gambia Expedition:

Last year, we were very fortunate to be sent on a photo assignment by travel magazine AFAR to Kenya, East Africa and, in particular, up to the Great Rift Valley.  We hooked up with the writer, Matt Gross, when we got up to Iten – which has to be one of the most wondrously, beautiful places I have been to yet.

Matt, a New Yorker, is a keen runner and he wanted to write a story based around marathon runners who train at high altitude in and around Iten, in the Great Rift Valley – less than an hours flight from the capital, Nairobi, to Eldoret, followed by a 30 minute drive to Iten – where the views are truly gobsmacking!

The Great Rift Valley from Kerio View, Iten, Kenya, East Africa © Helen Jones-Florio


Kenya produces some of the fastest, and finest, runners in the world and one place that many runners, from all over the globe, go to train is in Iten, at the High Altitude Training Centre (HATC) – founded by 4 times World Champion runner, Lorna Kiplagat. Whilst we were staying at the centre, the British Olympic team were also there, in training for this years Olympics.

We got to spend a fair bit of time with some of the local Kenyan runners (who we met through a great local fixer, Alex Matalambut Keles ) – all either top athletes in their field or well on their way to being so. However, there is an enormous amount of competition in Kenya, when it comes to running. Everyone, and I mean everyone, seems to run – from small kids, running to school, to elderly women joining in a half marathon (we followed one, from the back of a truck, as Florio shot) just for the fun of it, running in their flip flops! We watched as one mature flip-flop shod woman overtook one of the official marathon runners in his hi-tec running shoes!

Kenya marathon runners

Iten farmer
Farmer, Iten, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine
School kids run to say ‘jambo!’ – Eldoret, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine
Runners, Kenya
Runners, runners…all around – Iten, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine
Iten, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine
Maasai woman – Lake Bogoria, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine


Kenya is definitely on my ‘places to revisit’ list. A remarkable, welcoming, place where firm friendships were formed. How could you not be attracted to a place where people who smile and laugh so much…


Florio at work – photographing a Maasai farmer- Iten, The Great Rift Valley, Kenya, East Africa © Helen Jones-Florio


You can read the full article here: ‘Runners High’ – AFAR Magazine

Nice one, Mr Florio. Job well done.

Helen Jones-Florio

Florio & Helen – Eldoret, The Great Rift Valley, Kenya, 2011 (image by Alex Keles)