Wednesday November 28th 2012
Hurry up and wait…this should be the title of our book about the River Gambia Expedition so far.
The journey began on our departure from Gatwick Airport, UK on the 16th October. However, since we arrived in West Africa, all we seem to have done is wait, wait, and wait some more – whether it be for a box of expedition gear to arrive by boat in The Gambia (which we still don’t have a definite date for it’s arrival into Banjul Port) or waiting for the public transport that we are taking to Labe, Guinea, to fill up with enough passengers to depart Kedougou. The next Land Cruiser in line to leave the bus station needs seventeen people before the driver will leave and head towards the capital of the Fouta Djallon. At the moment, ten people have paid to join the vehicle (including our team of four). So far, it has taken three days to fill those ten seats.
After much debate amongst the team, and our time to complete the expedition running extremely short – we haven’t actually even started it yet (we don’t truly start it until we reach the source of the River Gambia in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea)! So, we have decided to bite the bullet and buy up the extra seats in the vehicle so that we can get moving. It will make a big dent in our already very tight budget – travel in West Africa can be extraordinarily expensive (it will cost us around $250) – but we are now almost eight weeks behind schedule…due to waiting.
We’ve enjoyed our time in Kedougou though. With great gratitude and respect, we’ve been staying in the peaceful, spacious, compound of Peter Stirling – Canadian we met on line whilst researching our trip – run by the tres belle Bebe (who is also a great cook!) and her husband, Kali (who, unfortunately, we won’t get to meet as he is working away at the moment). Visited by scavenging chickens and cockerels in the morning, thirsty donkeys mid-afternoon (to from the well water in the compound), and goats chomping the sparse grass late afternoon, and the odd dog cocking it’s leg around the place – the compound is alive. At night, we have lizards and god know what else scuttling around in the eves of our hut. We’ve also been discovering the sprawling, dusty, town of Kedougou and the nearby River Gambia – we’ll be setting off from the banks of the river nearby when we return from paying homage to the source of the river and our trek the Fouta.
‘It is in the hands of God” Ebu tells us, as he hangs up from the umpteenth phone call to the driver at the bus station, to see how many seats have been sold so far. How far is Labe, we ask? “A day and a night” – in local terms, is the answer…and the roads are ‘very bad’. I have a suspicion that might be a slight understatement. But, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
We hope to be in Labe by Friday morning – Insh’Allah.
More updates whenever possible so please stick with us.
The Florios (H & Flo), Abdou and Ebu
The River Gambia Expedition Team
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