Strength – a woman’s work…River Gambia, Kedougou, Senegal

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Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

Random photos of the day: A woman returns from her daily work of washing laundry and utensils in the River Gambia, Kedougou, Senegal, West Africa.

When we returned to Kedougou – after paying homage to the source of the River Gambia in the Fouta Djallon Hghlands of Guinea – we spent a few days preparing ‘The Twins’ (our two Ally 811 canoes), ready to get them into the River. This also entailed going down to various sections of the River Gambia to find out where would be the best place for us to embark, with the canoes, on the next phase of the River Gambia Expedition.

It was near to the Relais de Kedougou hotel that we saw many of the local women washing clothes, pots, pans, and rice, in the river each day – in fact, it’s a common sight along the entire length of the the river, up until when the water becomes too salty (as it nears it’s end, in the Atlantic Ocean, The Gambia). The river bank was particularly steep by the Relais and the woman would hoist up the heavy loads, onto their heads, as if the large plastic buckets contained nothing other than the feathers of a fattened guinea fowl!

Despite many, many years of traveling to Africa, I will continue be amazed by how much women, and young girls, carry loads with such apparent ease.

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Ferry crossing on The River Gambia, Kedougou, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

For an update on what we are working on right now (i.e. the book!) – July 2013 – please click here

Meet the press: The River Gambia Expedition story so far

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April 2013: VQR Spring 2013 opening page – Jason Florio’s latest series of images: ‘Life on the River Gambia

Florio and I were just looking back at what we’ve achieved since we got the crazy idea to over-land and then paddle up the River Gambia – from it’s trickling source (see above image, VQR) in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, into Senegal, and then on to The Republic of the Gambia…where, after an eventful 1000km+, we staggered out of our makeshift catarmaran (the Ally Cat), where the mighty river runs into the Atlantic Ocean.

The interest, and support, in our journey has been phenomenal – particularly from the press. Here are just a few of the highlights…and we definitely know there is more to come. However, until articles are published, we have to hold off announcing what is to come. But…we just got news this morning that a highly esteemed publication, which we have been coveting – even since our ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’ 2009 expedition – has agreed to take our recent River Gambia Expedition story. To say that we are thrilled is a slight understatement…this publication takes us into the realms of ‘taken-seriously-as-expeditioners‘! (That’s not to take anything away from all the other publications who have supported us!). Ecstatic/thrilled/joyous/crikey(!) would be more fitting adjectives! Watch this space…

In the meantime, a few of the highlights from the press coverage we’ve had over the last year – including a resurgence of the our 2009 expedition - particularly, Florio’s portraits of village chiefs (Alkalos) and elders: ‘Silafando‘:

Nat Geo Weekend

March 2013: Click on image to go to Nat Geo Radio page – scroll down to listen to Jason Florio and Helen-Jones Florio’s interview with Boyd Matson – March 10, 2013: ‘Going Undercover for Elephant Ivory, Held Hostage by Hippos (that’s us!!), and More’

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January 2013: Trunk Magazine – broke their own record by printing an unprecedented 18 pages of Jason Florio’s chiefs and elders (‘Silafando‘) from our 2009 expedition (‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’)

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May 2913: And because of the above 18 pages, Trunk Magazine were awarded the SPD silver medal for distinctive achievement in photography in the category of travel, food, and still life for “There and Back Again” Jason Florio‘s portrait series of Gambian chieftains. Trunk also followed up on our River Gambia Expedition with: ‘Gambia and Back

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April 2013: VQR (Virginia Quarterly Review), on our return, published 14 pages of Florio’s new series of images:’Life on the River Gambia‘ in their hard copy journal and on-line. Plus, we got a lovely note from the editor.

 

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November 2013: DPx Gear/Dangerous Magazine – ‘Down the Gambia‘ prior to leaving on the River Gambia Expedition, one of our collaborators, sponsors, instigators, and one of Florio’s assignment buddies (insert Mogadishu; undercover in Burma…kind of buddy), Robert Young Pelton‘s, Dangerous Magazine published an interview, by Will Grant, with Florio.

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Dangerous Magazine – the follow up- Down the Gambia – image © Jason Florio: kids playing on the banks of the River Gambia, Senegal

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May 2013: Foto Care, NYC, hosted our presentation/slideshow, with Stella Kramer as moderator, to a standing-room-only packed house.

 

 

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June 2013: Tabla Rasa Gallery exhibition – group show ‘Equus’ features two of Jason Florio’s portraits of horses – from both the River Gambia Expedition and A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush

For an update on what’ happening on the River Gambia Expedition front now, please check out ‘Tales from the River Gambia – reflecting on what’s gone by and what is to come…

Thanks to everyone for supporting our madness!

The Florios (H & Flo)

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Mission accomplished! Denton Bridge (and the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean), The Gambia, West Africa. L-R: Helen Jones-Florio, Ebou Jarju, Abdou Ndong and Jason Florio

Food, glorious food! Grazing through West Africa – a snap shot

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Fresh! © Jason Florio – Labé, Fouta Djallon Higlands, Guinea-Conakry

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Ground casava leaves © Jason Florio – Labé market, Fouta Djallon Higlands, Guinea-Conakry

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I think we’ll pass on this particular delicacy © Jason Florio – Labé, Fouta Djallon Higlands, Guinea-Conakry

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Fou fou and domada (peanut based stew) © Jason Florio – Fouta Djallon Higlands, Guinea-Conakry

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Tuck in! © Jason Florio - Fouta Djallon Higlands, Guinea-Conakry

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Florio, Ebou and Abdou enjoy a ‘mystery meat’ sandwich © Helen Jones-Florio – Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry

 

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We ate A LOT of fresh groundnuts! © Jason Florio - River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa

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The team chow down – sardines, onions, chili and potatoes and freshly baked bread. Delicious! © Jason Florio – Fouta Djallon Higlands, Guinea-Conakry

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Pit stop – Senegalese-style coffee and nyeh bay (beans, onions and spices) in fresh mburro – on route to Tamabacunda, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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Cooking domada for dinner © Helen Jones-Florio – Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry

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A day was not complete without out tea-breaks – thanks to Kelly Kettle! © Jason Florio - Djini, Senegal, West Africa

Just a taster – pun intended – of the kind of cuisine we feasted on, whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea Africa odyssey

For an update about our River Gambia journey (as of today-6/17/2013) please check out our recent blog post here

Happy ‘River Gambia Expedition’ sponsors – Kelly Kettle™

Blog post – Feb 2013 – River Gambia Expedition: ‘Today’s shout out goes to Kelly Kettle – this little beauty ‘Base Camp’ was a life saver…we Brits love our tea! Also, because you can burn any old bits of dry twigs and grass to boil the water it meant that this time, we didn’t have to use kembo (charcoal – from trees, which are all too often purposely chopped down for burning) – used all the time in West Africa to make fires

The ever curious kids of the Fouta Djallon Highlands – ‘Look, look! I am in the camera!’

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Helen – with her ever-present entourage © Jason Florio

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Helen – she is in there somewhere! © Jason Florio

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‘Can I see? Can I see?’ ! Florio has a instant audience © Helen Jones-Florio

Random photos of the day: November 2013 – ‘Look, look! I am in the camera!’ Habi squealed, as she looked at the screen on the camera. entertaining the kids in the Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry, whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition-1000km source-sea African odyssey’

For an update about our River Gambia journey (as of today-6/11/2013) please check out our recent blog post here

Photography Exhibition: ‘Equus’ – Brooklyn, NY. Opening night reception – June 19, 2013

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Herouna Tonkara with his horse – The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Jason Florio will have two pieces in the above show – one from our very recent ‘River Gambia Expedition’ and one from our 2009 ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’ expedition: the above image is from his award-winning body of work: ‘Silafando’  

The second image, from our river journey, was taken in Karantaba – where the 18th Century Scottish explorer (and our inspiration), Mungo Park, stayed during his travels into the interior of West Africa.

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Swimming horses – on the River Gambia at Karantaba, The Gambia, W Africa © Jason Florio

If you are in New York on the 19th June, 6-8.30pm, please feel free to stop by the gallery – Tabla Rasa, Brooklyn – and have a glass of wine with us and view the exhibition.

For an update on the River Gambia Expedition, as of today, please visit the following blog post: Tales from the River Gambia – reflecting on what’s gone by and what’s t come…’

Tales from the River Gambia – reflecting on what’s gone by and what is to come…

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The River Gambia Expedition Route Map: 1044km (649 miles) from source to sea – 23rd November, 2012-21st January 2013. Three West African countries. One river.

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On the way to a BIG adventure – The Florios, Gatwick Airport, London-Banjul, The Gambia – Oct 2012

We actually began our journey when we arrived in The Gambia, West Africa, on a hot, sticky mid-October day, 2012, in anticipation of shortly afterwards receiving our container of gear – including a emergency stockpile of packet noodles and CLIF bars!) – which was being shipped down the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll be on the road, we thought, heading towards the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry, by 21st-22nd October, at the latest, to find the source of the River Gambia. Or at least, that was the plan. One thing we should have learned by now, from past expedition experience (‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush-930km African odyssey‘, 2009), is that plans will always – always – change.

It wouldn’t be until nearly five weeks later that we would eventually give up on ever seeing our container again – after the shipping company finally admitted that they had no clue where it was and/or when it would turn up at the docks in Banjul, the capital of The Gambia! We had to make do with what we could scavenge together and get on our way.  Each week we were delayed could be problematic once we got into the River Gambia – as the river levels can fall very dramatically in places, resuting in us having to portage the canoes and our gear – more often than we would be paddling.

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Youtube: update from the Florios, Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa

We headed out, from The Gambia, on November 23rd, towards the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea – stopping in Kedougou, Senegal, on route, to drop off our canoes at a friends place. Thanks to Concern Universal for the lift across the border! From there, we took various modes of transport – a spine-juddering 24 hour drive, in an over-crammed (suspension-free – or so it felt!) Land Cruiser, up into the Highlands – to find the source of the River Gambia – on some of the worst ‘roads‘ in Africa. Calling them roads is actually a grand overstatement  – it’s more akin to rattling over the rockiest of river beds! However, in comparison to what we came back down the mountains on – on the back of moto-taxis – the ride in Land Cruiser was like cruising in a Rolls Royce Ghost!

We’ve covered a lot of ground, and river, since then and now we are back in our ‘other reality‘ of New York City, and the contrast couldn’t be more extreme. We’ve been working hard since our return, to get our story out there. Part of that work is to make the book. So…we need to fast forward a little, from our last blog post to the end of the journey, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the month, to dedicate to both the blog and the book. Everything and more will be in the book anyway. We’ll be keeping you updated on here as to when we are ready to publish.

In the meantime, we hope that you have enjoyed – and continue to do so – the journey. Following is a snap-shot, if you will, of our travels on the River Gambia Expedition – please click on any of the hot-links, which will take you to the relevant posts, for more stories and images.

Traders. downtown Labe market, Guinea © Jason Florio

Traders. downtown Labé market, Guinea © Jason Florio

'Moto' boys - Labe, Guinea © Jason Florio

‘Moto’ boys – Labé, Guinea © Jason Florio

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Youtube: The Florios – update from the Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio. Blog entry

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The source of the River Gambia, Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea © Jason Florio

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The River Gambia Expedition team-Fouta Djallon Highlands

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On top of the world, ‘Dame de Mali, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands © Jason Florio

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‘Ebu’ – Moto taxis, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon © Jason Florio

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The expedition team’s transport down the mountain – Moto taxis – Fouta Djallon © Jason Florio

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One of the villages that will be displaced if the proposed dam is built on the River Gambia – Runda Barra, Senegal/Guinea border © Jason Florio

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The site of the proposed dam on the River Gambia at Runda Barra, Senegal/Guinea border © Jason Florio

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Team mate, Abdou, at the stern – early morning on River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Youtube: Too close encounter with a hippo © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – Blog post

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Vignette: life on the River Gambia Expedition

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Dead monkeys and Christmas night sleeping on a rock – River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

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‘The Twins’ become ‘The Ally Cat’ - Gouloumbou, Senegal © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: The boy in the ‘fur coat’ © Jason Florio

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Time for a swim – Helen hangs out with the kids of Karantaba, River Gambia © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: Malian fisher woman, River Gambia © Jason Florio

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Bonto, River Gambia, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: the photographer and the journalist, Bansang, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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Night hawkers, Gouloumbou, Senegal © Jason Florio

 

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People we met along the way: The boy with his pet monkey, River Gambia © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: ‘Hawa’ rice field worker © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: ‘Oyster collectors, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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Horses swimming across the River Gambia, Karantaba, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: “The man on the pier’ at Bonto, River Gambia’ © Jason Florio

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The day before last – Helen, Ebou and Abdou, Bonto, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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The day before last – Jason Florio, Bonto, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

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The last image of the River Gambia Expedition: ‘The boy in the mask’ Mandinari, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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Mission Accomplished! Denton Bridge, at the Atlantic Ocean, The Gambia, West Africa

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JFK via London Gatwick – The Florios, post River Gambia Expedition – don’t we look happy to be back?! And we have our Peli UK case!

Thank you for coming on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey‘. Its been quite a journey and we have more to come…please stay with us and we’ll keep you updated on the ‘River Gambia’ book – which will fill in all the blanks.

The Florios (Helen & Flo)

Jason Florio – ‘River Gambia’ – new series of images

 © Jason Florio

© Jason Florio

© Jason Florio

© Jason Florio

© Jason Florio

© Jason Florio

To view more of Jason Florio’s new series of images – ‘River Gambia’ – taken whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition-1000km source-sea African odyssey‘ please visit the website: florio photo.com

The ferry crossing across the River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa

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© Jason Florio

Random photo of the day: Car ferry crossing over the River Gambia, in Kedougou, Senegal, West Africa. Taken whilst on the River Gambia Expedition – image © Jason Florio

We’ll be presenting a slideshow and discussion all about our journey at Foto Care, NYC, on Tuesday 14th May – 6.30pm-8pm. Please click this link to find out all the details

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PRESS: ‘Guinea to Gambia the Hard Way’ – the War Diaries

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 3.48.24 PMFriday 3rd May 2013

Thanks to an old friend (and skater dude) of Florio’s, Derek Henry Flood, for featuring our River Gambia Expedition on his ‘The War Diaries’ blog. Check it out here

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‘Hawa’ rice field worker – Kaur, The Gambia © Jason Florio