Thursday 20th December, 2013 – Paddling distance: 11.4km (total to-date: 83.65km) – River Gambia Expedition
A relatively short day on the River Gambia today, as we wanted to visit another gold mine, in Senegal. This stretch of the river is dotted with artisanal gold mines – which draw thousands of migrant workers from all over West Africa: Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Mali and, including Senegal itself. All of them hoping to make their fortune. Whole families live in and around the mines. All the mines we visited were understandably dusty but this one in particular had an extremely fine, pink-hued, dust which got absolutely everywhere. Even our tents, situated by the river – over 2 miles away from the mine itself – were covered in a fine film of the pale pink talc-like dust. But, at least we could pack up our tents and leave the next day. Many of those people whose lives revolve around the gold mines are inhaling toxic fumes from the mercury – used to separate the gold from the rock dust. The mercury that isn’t inhaled, settles into environment – i.e. the pink dust that coats everything and everybody, at this mine.
We met the Senegalese version of a Tolleh Kaafo (‘silly person’). Most villages in The Gambia will have such a group, or person in this case, and their purpose is to lighten up situations – laughing and joking around, when things get too serious. This guy was a real character, who seemed to have everything but an attayah teapot in his pockets!
More river stories to come…next stop Mako – with a couple of hippo encounters on the way.
As always, thanks for stopping by
The Florios – H & Flo
To view Jason Florio latest series of images – River Gambia – please visit floriophoto.com