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

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

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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

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ThrowbackWednesday: Moto-taxi rides down the mountains of the Fouta Djallon, River Gambia Expedition

River Gambia Expedition: Moto Taxi rider, Ebu, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio
Moto Taxi rider, Ebu, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

 

‘”It will be cheaper than taking the vehicle!” said Florio – pulling at our over-stretched  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.

Helen & ‘mototaxi’ rider, Ebu, and River Gambia Expedition team member, Ebou with his rider – leaving Mali Ville, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio
Helen & ‘mototaxi’ rider, Ebu, and River Gambia Expedition team member, Ebou with his rider – leaving Mali Ville, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

 

The above excerpt is taken from the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey blog.

 

The Journey – 1 river | 2 borders | 3 countries

Guinea SenegalThe Republic of The Gambia

West Africa

Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

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

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

Decemeber 2012: ‘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.

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

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Photographer, Jason Florio, gets details from moto-taxi rider, Labé, Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry – image © Helen Jones-Florio

Expeditions

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Image © Jason Florio ‘River Gambia’

‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’

November 2012 – January 2013 – after 400km overland in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry into Senegal we then put our two canoes into the river in Kedougou – we paddled (no engine – just paddle power) over 700km of the River Gambia to its end, at the Atlantic Ocean in Banjul, The Gambia.

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Image © Jason Florio ‘River Gambia’

During our travels, we bounced and rattled down the mountains of the Fouta Djallon on the back of motorcycle taxis; hung out with gold miners in Senegal; drank attayah tea with village chiefs and elders; dodged very angry hippos on the River Gambia; and, as we paddled on the increasingly widening ocean-like river, we battled the wind and waves, as we neared the Atlantic, in The Gambia, and the end of our journey.

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Youtube: ‘River Gambia’ – footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

All in all, it was a phenomenal journey. To read the whole story, please visit: River Gambia Expedition

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Image © Jason Florio ‘Silafando’

‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey’

In October-December, 2009, we made the first recorded circumnavigation of The Republic of The Gambia, West Africa, completely on foot – along with two donkeys and cart, to carry our camera and camping equipment.

A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush
Image © Jason Florio ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’

Jason’s portraits of village chiefs (Alkalo’s) and elders, which he took whilst we were on the 930km walk, have since become an award-winning body of work – ‘Silafando’ ,  a local Mandinka word which translates as: ‘a gift to you on behalf of my journey