The River Gambia Expedition team – together. At last! The Gambia, West Africa

Thursday 19th October 2012

This is how are day started: auto breakdown#1

Path for the course for the rest of the day! Sandele Eco Retreat, Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio

Once we got the motor started (putting fuel in helped somewhat), we made our way to the Senegambia area for a meeting at the American Embassy. A successful meeting at that, as they asked us if we would consider exhibiting the work from this forthcoming expedition, River Gambia Expedition, and from our 2009 walk around the Gambia – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’ = when we finish the journey. We’re really hoping we can work that out as it would be achieving something that we’ve dreamed about doing since the 2009 expedition. Fingers crossed!

And this is how the day went on, after we left the American Embassy (in the background): auto breakdown#2

Florio gets ready to push! Kairaba Ave, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

The image speaks for itself! Kairaba Ave, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Once we got the motor started, again, we set off to meet with Abdou and Ebou – our Gambian team mates, in Kembujeh, a small village not too far from Brikama. We haven’t seen them in almost three years so, as you can imagine, it was an emotional greeting – from both sides – plus, Abdou and Florio (or ‘JC’, as they  fondly call him all over the place here) have known each other for 15 plus years.

However, on route, we came across Africell (one of the local mobile/cell phone networks), on Kairaba Ave, who were holding special ‘Tobaski’  (the big annual Muslim festival – where 1000’s of goats and sheep are ritually slaughtered) competition – text to a certain number and your name could be picked out to get your free goat or sheep! When we went past earlier in the day this pen was crammed full of the fattened, four-legged – bleating-like ‘we-know-what’s-coming’ – mammals. Obviously, there had been a lot of winners.

‘Get your Tobaski goat here – be quick, mind you!’ Kairaba Ave, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

There was one stop we just had to make, on route to Kembujeh to meet with our Gambia team mates, in the town of Brikama – to (completely) surprise an old friend.

Florio & Dr Sanyang, Brikama, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Dr Sanyang is a blog post (or several!) all on his own…so, we’ll leave that story for another time.

The River Gambia Team – 2012!!

The River Gambia Expedition Team – together, at last! L-R: Florio, Abdou, Helen & Ebou, Kembueh, The Gambia, West Africa

And, the surprise was all ours as Abdou’s lovely daughter, Ole – who we hung out with last time we were here (when she was about 14 years old) – appeared with her new baby. Ole seems such a young thing herself. Nevertheless, motherhood suits her so well.

Ole with babe (with proud Grandfather, Abdou, in the background), Kembujeh, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

The day ended, just as it had started – auto breakdown#3

Abdou’s kids (and assorted other kids) help get the motor running! Kembujeh, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Despite all that, the kids are still smiling – as they always see to do here.

Kembujeh, The Gambia, West Africa.Image © Helen Jones-Florio

A full on day, in 90+ degree heat. But, it’s great to be back in The Gambia. It’s a place that we both love and, equally and individually, have a long history here. Plans are fully underway for leaving for Guinea – the start of our expedition proper.

We’ll be updating you with more news and photos very soon. So, we do hope you’ll stop by again and that you’ll enjoy the journey with us.

Fonyata domanding (see you later!).

The Florios

P.S. a thank you from us both (and the Sandele Eco Retreat cat!)

A message from Helen & Florio (and introducing the Sandele cat) – Sandele Eco Retreat, The Gambia, West Africa – Oct 17th 2012

About River Gambia Expedition 2012

Jason Florio, FRGS: award-winning photojournalist. Helen Jones-Florio: expedition & photography producer. 2009: The couple co-led the West Africa expedition 'A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey' - the first circumnavigation of the small West African country, by foot, with two donkeys and a cart. Resulting in the award-winning series of portraits of Gambian village chiefs (Alkalo's) (under 'Projects') 2012-13: The couple co-led their second West Africa expedition - 'River Gambia Expedition - 1000km source-sea Africa odyssey' over-landing for 400km and canoeing the River Gambia for 720km
This entry was posted in Adventure, Culture, Expedition, photography, Photojournalism, River Gambia, The Gambia, tradition, Travel, West Africa and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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