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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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
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These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking
These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking

Throwback Friday: ‘Radio Man’ The Gambia, West Africa ©Jason Florio

MAN WITH RADIO GAMBIA
‘Radio Man’ – with his boom box – portrait ©Jason Florio, 2009 – The Gambia, West Africa

‘We met this very talented musician who just happened to walk past our campsite, by the side of the road, in the village of Chamois Bunda, The Gambia.

He played us his own music on the boom box that he carried everywhere. He even performed a nifty little dance for us too! His music was amazing – like Bluegrass, with a twist of Cuban influence. We hadn’t heard any music for a while, by that point, on our walk around the small West African country. Therefore, it was a real treat to hear such great music. What a talented young man he was. This photo, and the memory which it evokes, still makes me smile. 

Helen Jones-Florio – excerpt from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘ blog

Looking back: young boy leaves the gold mines of Senegal, to cross the River Gambia, after a long days work

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 8.38.39 AM
Image © Jason Florio – River Gambia

 

The section from Kedougou to Mako is known as ‘gold country’. For centuries the land on either side of the river has been continually pock marked by thousands of narrow mine shafts. We were warned about camping in these lawless areas, filled with anxious men and women, eyes bent on gold and not to be trusted. As I peered down one of the shafts, my eyes adjusted to see a labourer hunched, with axe in hand, a weak Chinese headlamp dotting the path of his striking tool. Watching the daily descent of these people into deep shafts, hauling the gold-bearing quartz and crushing it by hand, all while enveloped by air choked in fine dust made me realise what hard work it was. The unapologetic Sahelian sun seemingly has a softening effect on even the surliest of people because we were only ever treated courteously by them.Jason Florio ‘The River Gambia’ – for Sidetracked Magazine, Read the whole feature here.

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

The ‘River Gambia‘ series – images by Jason Florio, taken whilst on the journey.