‘Fonyato domanding’ – a West Africa mandinka phrase – roughly translates as: ‘see you next time‘
Hippo encounter, of the very close up kind, en route to Mako. Film footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio. Click the image or here to view
Friday 21st December 2012 – Bantaco – Mako. Total paddling distance to-date: 105.73km River Gambia Expedition
We left the main gold mines behind this morning and headed towards the small ‘urban’ town of Mako, centered around an arterial road, on one of the main highways in Senegal – the Trans Gambia Highway. We’d stopped in Mako, for a cold drink, on our way to Labé, just under a month ago – which, at times, often feels much more like two months, considering what we’ve squeezed into our journey so far.
Whilst paddling, on route to Mako, we had a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a rather mammoth mammal – and a very pissed-off one at that: a hippo. After waiting on the rocks for over an hour – for the hippo to let us pass – and then hugging the river bank, paddling ‘donding, donding’ (slowly, slowly), we made it to Mako – and the safety of hippo-free terra firma. For the time being, at least.
H and the team: arrival at Mako – River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio
After scouting around, a local man kindly offered us the ground just outside his compound, to make our campsite for the night. It was right near to the riverbank, with an epically tantalizing view of Niokolo Koba National Park - frustratingly, after months of trying, we still hadn’t been given the go-ahead by the park director to paddle our canoes through the park. So, tomorrow morning, after packing our two Ally 811 canoes into their backpacks, we would be taking local transport for 134km’s to Wassadou – where we planned to spend Christmas and a couple of days of much-needed rest.
Mako – market (lumo) area, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
Florio interviews Yousef – banks of the River Gambia, Mako, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
Yousef with his fishing net – River Gambia, Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio
Ebou and Florio – Mako, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
Dusk – The view of Niokolo Koba National Park, River Gambia, Mako © Jason Florio
Saturday 22nd December 2012 – preparing to leave Mako
Dawn – The River Gambia, Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio
First things first – get the Kelly Kettle on!
Abdou and H – watching water boil, Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio
Florio oversee’s the packing of the Sept Place - Mako © Helen Jones-Florio
© Helen Jones-Florio
Team photo! L-R: Abdou, Florio, Yousef, Ebou (behind) and H – River Gambia, Mako, Senegal
Today we sadly and reluctantly say ‘fonyato’ – or au revoir – to Yousef. As much as we tried to persuade him to carry onto Banjul, The Gambia, with us he needed to get back to his wife and family in Kedougou. Yousef has not only caught fish for us along the way but he’s given us all a crash course in how to deal with hippos – catapults and posturing aside! – which, had we not happened open him a week ago in Kedougou (another of the many serendipitous moments we have had and will continue to have on this journey), we feel sure we may have quite possibly ended up in the River Gambia, manically swimming for shore and for our lives, after being rammed and capsized by a pissed off hippo! However, even he took a chance or two along the way, all in the name of saving a water container
Yousef and his ‘rescued’ water container, Mako © Jason Florio
Catapult boy – he must be a friend of Yousef’s - Mako © Jason Florio
And, it’s goodbye to the River Gambia, for the next few days. We’ll miss you -but not the hippos!
River Gambia – not a hippo in sight © Jason Florio
Florio – Mako © Helen Jones-Florio
H & Yousef – Mako – screen grab from film footage © Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio
Fonyato domanding, Yousef! © Jason Florio
Yousef gets his transport home – Mako © Jason Florio
We’re on our way to Wassadou – Leaving Mako © Helen Jones-Florio
And so, we move onto the next stage of our journey. This time, we head up the road towards Wassadou. Most of the route is through the Niokolo Koba National Park – so at least we get to see it – just not, unfortunately, from our canoes. The plan is to spend Christmas in Wassadou – there is a lodge there that we read about – however, best laid plans and all…
More on that coming soon.
Thanks, as always, for stopping by. We hope you are enjoying the journey – as much as we are, reliving it.
The Florios (H & Flo)
Next up: Merry *&%$##* Christmas!!
Hunters – washing in the River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio
To see more of Jason Florio’s series of images – ‘River Gambia’ – from the expedition, please visit floriophoto.com