PRESS: VQR – ‘Life on the River Gambia’ new series of images by Jason Florio from a journey through West Africa

VQR Spring 2013 opening page_72dpi

VQR – ‘Life on the River Gambia’. Images © Jason Florio – the Source of the River Gambia, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conkry, West Africa

We’re very honored to have Florio’s ‘River Gambia’ latest series of images featured in the new edition of the award-winning 88-year-old national journal of literature and discussion, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring, 2013 – all fourteen pages of them!

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Female migrants from Guinea Bissau work along the shores of a tributary of River Gambia, in The Gambia, collecting oysters that hang from the mangroves © Jason Florio

Seeing the images in print makes our River Gambia Expedition really come alive – along with reminding us of what we’ve achieved…’did we really go there? Did we really do that?!

‘Found under a rock in the highlands of Guinea, the Gambia emerges as one of the last untamed great rivers of Africa, winding through three countries on it’s way to the sea’ VQR

VQR letter_0503 copyThe images look beautiful – thanks to Jon Parrish Peede, Paul Reyes and all at VQR for the feature.

The Florios (H & Flo)

BIG THANKS to just a few of our donors…more pics to come as we traverse the River Gambia, W Africa

Ryan Heffernan.com

Ryan Heffernan.com © Jason Florio – Hore Dimma, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea

Robert 'Bob' Jones - who was our very first donor © Jason Florio, Kedougou, Senegal

Robert ‘Bob’ Jones – who was our very first donor © Jason Florio, Kedougou, Senegal

David & Lucie Coke and Mnr 'tickle on the tum' Albert! © Jason Florio, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands (Dame de Mali in the background)

David & Lucie Coke and Mnr ‘tickle on the tum’ Albert! © Jason Florio, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands (Dame de Mali in the background)

 

Claire 'Cakes n Pies' Rich © Jason Florio, Kedougou, Senegal

Claire ‘Cakes n Pies’ Rich © Jason Florio, Kedougou, Senegal

Albetza ('Tinka') & Keiron O'Conner.com

Albetza (‘Tinka’) & Keiron O’Conner.com © Jason Florio – Labe, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea

Monica Pozzi 'OBODNY' © Jason Florio - Kedougou, Senegal

Monica Pozzi ‘OBODNY’ © Jason Florio – Kedougou, Senegal

Stella Kramer.com © Jason Florio - The Gambia, West Africa

Stella Kramer.com © Jason Florio – The Gambia, West Africa

Sari Goodfriend.com © Jason Florio - 'Leo' the tortoise, The Gambia, West Africa

Sari Goodfriend.com © Jason Florio – ‘Leo’ the tortoise, The Gambia, West Africa

Mum (Thelma) and Sandy © Helen Jones-Florio - Hore Dimma, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea

Mum (Thelma) and Sandy © Helen Jones-Florio – Hore Dimma, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea

 

Rodger, Wendy, Nana, Elliot, Tyrone and Jacob - The Florios! © Jason Florio - Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea

Rodger, Wendy, Nana, Elliot, Tyrone and Jacob – The Florios! © Helen Jones-Florio – Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea

Again, BIG BIG thanks to everyone for their support. We would not be able to do this otherwise.

More ‘thank you’ images coming soon as!

We miss you all!!

Big Love

H & Flo xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Florio – images from Guinea-Conakry, West Africa

Food, food and more food shots then you can shake a stick at © Jason Florio

Food, food and more food shots then you can shake a stick at © Jason Florio

Ebou - at the helm! Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

Ebou – at the helm! Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

H and her little helper, Janabah, Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

H and her little helper, Janabah, Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

Abdou, H & Ebou - Mali Ville, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

Abdou, Ebou & H – Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

Florio gets to work - filming the chief, Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry © Helen Jones-Florio

Florio gets to work – filming the chief, Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry © Helen Jones-Florio

Just a few pics to be going on with. We promise to connect the dots, re the images, as soon as we can get on line long enough to do so.

Thanks as always for stopping by.

The Florios – H & Flo x

 

 

 

 

 

New profile pics of the River Gambia team, in Guinea (after 8 bone-rattling hours on the back of a motorbike!)

Jason 'have I got dust up my nose?' Florio

Jason ‘have I got dust up my nose?’ Florio © Jason Florio

 

Helen 'dust? What dust?' Jones-Florio

Helen ‘dust? What dust?’ Jones-Florio © Jason Florio

 

Abdou 'you talkin' to me?' Ndong

Abdou ‘done n dusted’ Ndong © Jason Florio

 

Ebou 'do I look good in this colour?' Jarju

Ebou ‘this is how to do it’ Jarju © Jason Florio

 

More to come very soon on our ‘road’ trip on the back of ‘moto’s’ from Mali Ville, Guinea, back to Kedougou, Senegal – all coccyx-shaking eight hours of it! And, that was after our main moto-guy told us it would take ‘two hours…we go now… tout suite we will be in Kedougou!’ !!

We’ll also be posting about reaching the source of the River Gambia in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea – the start of our River Gambia Expedition proper!

Back soon as!

H, Florio, Abdou and Ebou – the River Gambia Expedition team

P.S. Check out our route on our YellowBrick page – see below.

click on image to view site

click on image to view site

 

 

 

 

 

Update: The long and winding road…Kedougou, Senegal-Labé, Guinea-Conarkry – and back again

Fleuve-Gambia-sunset-Kedougou_MG_2279

The River Gambia (Fleuve Gambie), Kedougou, Senegal © Jason Florio 2012

Tuesday 11th December, 2012 – Kedougou, Senegal

It’s been over a week since we were able to get on line and update the blog. Not that we haven’t been busy, as a River Gambia Expedition team. Florio has been doing his thing – photography – so we have lots of images from our travels to come, over the coming weeks. I’ve been keeping up on my journal (some of which you’ll read here on the blog. The rest? You’ll have to wait for the book!); Abdou and Ebou have excelled as team mates, translators, and givers of cultural knowledge.

Here is what we’ve been up to since the last post. A little reminder: whenever you don’t see any updates here, you can always follow our route through our YellowBrick ‘YB3’ tracking device here

click to go to YB site

click to go to YB site

 

 

florioapp@my.yb.tl to send emails to us

Overboard Bags - helen Jones-Florio

“No Photo!!” – Packing the Overboard bags on top of the pick up truck – Kedougou, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

Friday 30th November – Kedougou, Senegal – Labé, Guinea, West Africa

We left Kedougou bus station around 1pm on Friday 29th November, after three days of waiting for the vehicle to fill up with enough passengers before the driver would start the engine – then the damn vehicle had to be push-started; probably because it had sat there for so long! And, then only after much haggling about the extortionate price of the seats, with what seemed like the entire ‘Drivers Union of Kedougou’ – if there is such a body. It seems everyone likes to get in on the action when the ‘toubabs – that’s yours truly and Mr Florio – are around. If that wasn’t enough, after agreeing on the price for the four of us, the driver still tried to extort even more XOF francs from us, for our baggage. You can bet your bottom franc that we paid over the odds! But, we had already waited too long for the vehicle to fill up – all 20 passengers in/on top of one ancient, knackered, pick up truck. Alas, comfort and luxury not included in the already racked-up price. We needed to get going – on to the next stage of our journey.

H and the team - leaving Kedou and the team - leaving Kedougou, Senegal © Jason Florio

H and the team – leaving Kedou and the team – leaving Kedougou, Senegal © Jason Florio

Saturday 1st December – 130km and 24 hours later and we arrive in the capital of Labé, in the Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea…

and our minds and bodies knew exactly why transport cost’s so much in Senegal/Guinea – and it’s not just the horrendously expensive fuel prices. Unraveling our aching limbs from the crammed cab of the truck, having traversed moonscape-like terrain for 20 of those 24 hours – bouncing. Hang on, lets backtrack here: ‘bouncing’? That  much too soft word to describe our journey up to the Fouta Djallon, Guinea. Lets replace that with ‘JUDDERING’ – uppercase intended – on ‘roads’ which can only be described as driving over riverbeds – the rockiest ones that you can possibly imagine, at that! “Vehicles have to be remade when they have made the journey to Guinea” one driver at the bus station in Kedougou had told us in, when we were haggling for the best price. Slight exaggeration, surely?, we thought…before we started the journey there, that is!

On route to Labe, Guinea - Florio films our ferry crossing over the River Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

On route to Labe, Guinea – Florio films our ferry crossing over the River Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

For every inch of those 130kms we rattled up, down, around, and over the Fouta Djallon mountain’s – fording streams; collective willing (from Florio and I, at least. ‘insh-Allah’/’god willing’, no doubt, from our fellow passengers) the struggling vehicle up 1:4 gradients; breathing in to cross narrow, barely-there bridges; getting a birds-eye view, inches from my permanently-wound-down-window (a hole where the ‘manuel’, the winder to open and close it, should have been), of the sheer drop down into the valley, whilst preying the driver doesn’t over estimate the narrowness of yet another hair-pin bend. And, despite hating driving at night in Africa – and, even worse, being driven (I’m petrified! Too many crashes and near misses with other vehicles, as they drive towards you with full beam, over the years, will do that) – I was actually relieved to remain in relative ignorance on this particular journey, as we drove through the most precipitous of mountain ‘roads’. As the darkest night slipped away and dawn took over, I tried my damnedest to keep my eyes directly on the road ahead – but, I couldn’t help myself, by looking at the too-close-for-comfort sheer drop outside my window once again!

Thankfully, Mr Drammeh, our Guinean driver, had very obviously made the route from Kedougou to Labé many times – his maneuvering over the treacherous, red-rock-filled, roads, was a testament in itself. We salute the Chinese auto industry– that pick up truck was like a ‘Tonka Toy’!

Around 2am, the truck stopped in the darkness, in what appeared to be a cluster of huts in the middle of nowhere. Without a word to us, Mr Drammeh stepped down from the truck. We then we noticed the other passengers disembarking from the back of the vehicle, with various pieces of luggage, and proceeded to unroll mats and carpets on the ground. I guess we are resting for a while then – an undetermined time, at that – no one having explained to us what was going on. A cacophony of pissing, farting – and it wasn’t just from the numerous goats doted around us – blowing snot out of noses, and, finally, snoring ensued. Then…the star-filled night was suddenly quiet. Abdou and Ebou found space on a mat, Florio took the front seats (splitting the silence by accidentally knocking the car horn on a couple of occasions, whilst trying to get comfortable! However, it’s a good job it we weren’t honking for help – because no one stirred!). I took the back seats. Not much sleep was had, but at least we had the full moon to light up the night – which made it considerably easier to find a place to pee during those wee hours.

Around 7am, after more noisy farting and pissing, everyone clambered back onto the truck, and we set off, once again; arrived in Labé around 12.30pm. For a good hour afterwards, whenever I closed my eyes, I swear that could still feel the juddering motion of the long drive. Later that evening, we met a couple from the USA and Holland – Tim and Kate – who had just made the same journey. Tim’s very apt analogy: “it feels like I have just been put though a cement mixer!”.

Saturday 1st December – Labé, Guinea-Conarkry

'Moto' boys - Labe, Guinea © Jason Florio

‘Moto’ boys – Labe, Guinea © Jason Florio

Labè’s got style!

Ghana photographer, Malik Sidibe, portrait subjects spring to mind, as we walked around the downtown area of Labé. These ‘moto taxi’ guys are seriously cool.

'Moto' boys, Labe. Guinea © Helen Jones-Florio

‘Moto’ boys, Labé. Guinea ©Jason Florio

H & 'Moto' Boys, Labe, Guinea © Jason Florio

H & ‘Moto taxi’ Boys, Labé, Guinea © Jason Florio

Flo-writing details-labe_DSF0798 copy

Florio gets the details – Labé, Guinea © Helen Jones-Florio

We met with Yayah Baldeh, who runs Galissa Voyage Trekking. He was going to supply us with a local guide and translator – Saifoulaye Djallow (‘Saif’) – who would take us up into the more rural areas of Fouta Djallon Highlands and, what we had came here for, to pay homage to the source of the River Gambia (Fleuve Gambie – as it is known in Guinea). After a year of planning, where the River Gambia Expedition would truly begin.

Saif and Yaya - Galissa Voyage Trekking, Labe, Guinea

Saif and Yaya – Galissa Voyage Trekking, Labe, Guinea © Jason Florio

Labé is a motorcycle city, over-run with thousands of, Chinese-made , taxi bikes – ‘moto taxis’ (those aforementioned extremely high fuel prices give many people little option to use anything else) – carrying a minimum of 2-3 passengers a piece. As we walk around the town, we constantly had to dart out of the way, as yet another ‘moto’ zooms towards us, at maximum speed – We have this expression: ‘taking no prisoners’ – within inches of us. “à ton à ton! There are too many accidents every day, here in Labè” Saif tells us, leading us through the dusty, stinking, dirty, litter-filled streets of the downtown area. Despite the moto-dodging, and the putrid aromas, Labè is a vibrant, animated, friendly place – ‘Jarama’s’ (local Pula language greeting), “bonjours”, and “ca va’s”, abound, from every smiling, curious (as in, intrigued by the two ‘portos’ – Guinea version of ‘toubab‘ in town), face we pass.

H goes shopping for supplies, downtown Labe market, Guinea © Jason Florio

H goes shopping for supplies, downtown Labé market, Guinea © Jason Florio

Traders. downtown Labe market, Guinea © Jason Florio

Batik traders. downtown Labe market, Guinea © Jason Florio

'Pain' traders, downtown Labe market, Guinea © Jason Florio

‘Le Pain/mburro’ traders, downtown Labé market, Guinea © Jason Florio

We stayed in ‘Le Campagne Hotel’, a short 15-20 minute walk from the downtown area (and 10 minutes to the nearest ‘Cyber Café, where we could also get a decent/fast at times WiFi connection – 68774.7GNF for an hour – about 50p). The hotel is a small, pleasant enough place – during the day, that is. After 6pm, it becomes the local hangout for well-heeled – judging by the shiny new cars they rocked up in, to park in the compound – Gaselle (Guinean beer) guzzling, good-natured, Guinean guys and ‘ladies of the night’. Loud, vociferous banter and laughter, accompanied by static, as in un-tuned transistor radio music (what is it about Africans, that they don’t seem to notice when a radio is not tuned in and/or is constantly turned up to mac 11?!), blared into the early hours. Oh, and lets not forget the 24 hour TV, blasting in the restaurant area. It was a job to pry ‘la madam’ of the hotel away from the screen – to which she sat, glued to – to get an order of drinks or food!

Hotel Le Campagne, Labe © Helen Jones-Florio

Hotel Le Campagne, Labe © Helen Jones-Florio

So…our journey continues. We will update as and when we can – which isn’t that often at the moment. We’re going to see if we can buy a ‘dongle’/network key, which we can insert our cell phone sim cards into, to get on line. However, as mentioned, if you don’t see any updates for a while, check out our YellowBrick page, to see where we are, at any given time. I think my mum is our biggest fan – she knows where we’re headed before we even get there!! You can also leave messages on the page too, to which we can respond, due to the YB3 tracking device being on the iridium and satellite network – all we need to do it blue tooth it with the iPad et viola!

Florio, YellowBrick and Concern Universal - on route to Tambacunda, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

Florio, YellowBrick and Concern Universal – on route to Tambacunda, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

click to go to YB site

click to go to YB site

 

 

 

 

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. It’s great to have you on board!

Fonyato domanding (‘until next time’)

Helen, Florio, Abdou & Ebou – River Gambia Expedition team

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

Overboard bags on top of yet another vehicle - Hore Dimma, Guinea © Jason Florio

Overboard bags on top of yet another vehicle – Hore Dimma, Guinea © Jason Florio

COMING SOON! Reaching the source of the River Gambia, in the Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea; toilet humour and bathing with bull’s(!); 80km and 8 ½ moto-taxi ride from Mali Ville, Guinea, to Kedougou, Senegal… updates as soon as!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YouTube: Jason and Helen Florio talk about their imminent departure (3 days to go!) to Guinea and the source of the River Gambia, West Africa

Please click on image to view footage

The YouTube footage pretty much speaks for itself…which is a good thing as we are just running out of the door, this morning, to catch up with Concern Universal - Florio is taking some pics of one of their projects here in The Gambia, in exchange for a lift with all our expedition gear to Tambacunda, Senegal, in three days time. From there, we will then head down to Kédougou, Guinea, to drop off ‘The Twins‘ (our Ally 811 canoes), then onto Labé. Near to where our journey truly begins – the River Gambia Expedition – 40km or so from Labé, lies the tiny village of Toulou, where we will begin to trek for the first 200km, in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea and the source of the River Gambia.

River Gambia Expedition – route map

After over three weeks delay and more than a few false start dates (thanks to the shipping company who are transporting our box of expedition gear!), we are all set to go – at long last – and we are both so very ready to get this expedition well and truly started. As are our Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebu, who have been more than patiently waiting (as only Gambians can) for us to give them a leaving date.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. And, thank you, for the words of encouragement over these last frustrating weeks of waiting on tenterhooks for our box of expedition gear (which was never meant) to arrive in The Gambia – we are not defeated!

We’ll be right back with updates and photos (from Mr Florio) very soon.

H & Flo

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

Protronica on board – we are powered up for the River Gambia Expedition!!

We have been incredibly fortunate to have Rob Garner of Protonica to team up with us and our MacBook Pros for our River Gambia Expedition. Keeping our MacBooks powered up while weeks away from grid fed power has been a long conversation. Protronica supplies HyperJuice batteries – a compact and powerful answer to keep us juiced up deep into West Africa. Using our GoalZero solar panels we’ll be able feed HyperJuice batteries during the day while on the move, and have plenty of power to work on our images and words on the Macs at night. HyperJuice is the ONLY external battery and car charger solution that works with ALL MacBook®, MacBook Air® and MacBook Pro (supports dual voltage). Available in 4 different sizes (60~222Wh), the HyperJuice battery also powers the iPhone®, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and all other USB devices. Protonica has an array of great technology so please take a look at their site - Protronica

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to Rob and Protonica for their generous support and techie advice!!

Jason & Helen

Jason Florio talks about the River Gambia Expedition and his fine art photography prints. Please click on image to view

Welcome onboard – Pehr Karlsson of Organo Gold

We want to welcome Pehr Karlsson of Organo Gold who has jumped on board as a very generous fiscal sponsor. I met Pehr in May in the beautiful Swedish village of Jät while I was shooting a story on Mid-Summer for the New York Times. I needed to file an image for a Newsweek cover – very urgently and did not expect to find even a slow connection in this sleepy farming village. Pehr said I could use the wifi at his farm house – it is to this day the fastest internet connection I have ever used – the huge file needed for the Newsweek cover blasted down the wire in nano-seconds. Pehr saved the day ! Pehr is a distributor for Organo Gold and travels the globe in the process. Organo Gold produces a line health products including coffee, tea and hot chocolate with ‘Ganoderma’ – a fungus that has been tested for potential therapeutic benefits including :

Check out Organo Gold line Pehr’s contact info is there – I am sure he would be happy to hear from you !

Thank you for stopping by – Florio x

Click on image to support our KS page-Deadline 15th Oct. 2012

Vimeo – Award-winning photographer Jason Florio talks about the River Gambia Expedition 2012 and ‘An Exchange’ for his fine art prints

To view the above Vimeo footage, please click on the above image. And, to check out the whys and wherefores about our River Gambia Expedition 2012, please click here

OK…now its time for our BIG push on the fundraising front. We’re not going to beat about the bush, or be too proud here (we can’t afford to be, for starters). We’ve raised around 25% of what we need to get this expedition fully off the ground – or to get our paddles in the River Gambia, to begin our ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’. But here’s the skinny on what we still need to raise: $9,000 / £7,500 – by the end of September – as in 2012 September! Crikey!

Firstly though, and very importantly, we’ve been overwhelmed, and humbled, by the response we’ve had so far to our ‘An Exchange’ programme – from friends, family and colleagues alike. Florio’s fine art photography prints, from images he will take on the expedition (for donations of $100/£65 and over), will be winging their way to them once we return from the journey. We’ve also had some incredible product sponsorship, which helps to cut back considerably on what we originally had to raise. We’re extremely grateful for this support too.

Here is an example of one of Florio’s delectable fine art prints that we offered to our donators from our last expedition, ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’ in 2009 – ‘Herouna with his white horse’ which was also one of the favourite images that people chose, from what became an award-winning series of portraits of Gambian chiefs and elders.

Herouna with his white horse, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009

Florio and I will be covering our own expenses for the expedition, but what we really need help with are the on-the-ground hard cash expenses needed for operating a project such as this, down in West Africa – which Florio explains rather succinctly on the above Vimeo footage. But, to give you a quick run down, any monies raised will be used to pay our two Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebou, for 2-3 months (they also both have extended family to support whilst they are on the journey with us); Guinea and Senegal guides/fixers; medical supply kits, emergency get-out contingency plans (which, hopefully we won’t need, but…)…the list goes on. But, to get on the River Gambia, we need your help.

Dusk – Fisherman in the River Gambia © Jason Florio 2009. A rare, much-needed, and blissful, break from our 930km walk around The Gambia.

As mentioned, we’ve have some great product sponsors on board already but… if any of you have any connections with camping gear, hiking boot etc. (please see our full wish list on the ‘An Exchange’ page) manufacturers, we’d be ever so grateful if you would share this post and/or the blog link.

If you don’t have the spare resources to exchange for one of Florio’s a fine art prints, then no problem (however, there is still time to enter the Aug 31st ‘Print Draw’ - donations of $25/£16 gives you the chance to win one of his prints)…we are more than happy to have you on board, following our journey on here, the blog, and our FB page. You can also contribute by spreading the word about the River Gambia Expedition 2012 with your friends. Please. We’d appreciate that very much indeed.

And, for those who wish to become involved in ‘An Exchange’, again, please check out the Vimeo footage and/or click on this link for all the information that you need to donate through Paypal – or, if you’ve gotten this far and have already decided to jump on board with us (thanks for the faith in what we’re planning), simply click on the Paypal icon in the right hand column of this page, which will take you directly to the PayPal website.

With thanks, gratitude and eternal hope!

Helen & Florio (The Florios)

P.S. Just another little taster of the sublime quality of the fine art photography which Florio produces, when he is behind his camera – prints of similar beauty could belong to you, from this forthcoming expedition

Gambian woman waiting for the ferry to cross the River Gambia in Karantaba, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009