‘”It will be cheaper than taking the vehicle!” said Florio – pulling at our over-stretched expedition budget purse-strings – that clinched the deal!…Ebu, very convincingly, stated: “Come, we go now, now!… We will get to Kedougou in two hours… and I will also return tonight, to Mali, with a passenger from Kedougou too!”. In actual fact, we would not reach Kedougou until 10pm that evening! If we had had even a hint that we would be on the back of those motorcycles for almost nine spine-juddering hours, not one of us would have been smiling, and joking, half as much as we did when we set off!’ Words by Helen Jones-Florio / River Gambia Expedition.
‘Group deliberation in English, Mandinka, Bambara, and French only confused the issue. We finally opted for what seemed the suicidal approach, by way of the river and hugging the bank, ready to leap into the knotted trees if the hippo came in for the kill.’ Jason Florio – Read more and see more on Maptia .
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.