1. 'On the road stories and images' Food, food and more food - Gambian style.

    We were fortunate enough to be walking around The Gambia during the harvest season so food was pretty abundant. Our daily staple diet, however, seemed to consist of consuming a lot of tapalapa, which is akin to a french baguette but much denser and heavier (leave it to go dry enough, and with a well-aimed over-arm throw, we probably could have taken out one of the many Red Colobus monkeys we encountered along the way! If we were that way inclined of course!!). But, the bread served as a great source of instant energy when we needed a boost on the road - and, if we were lucky enough to come across a street vendor, we could buy it stuffed with locally made sauce of fried chili, onions, tomatoes, spices and black beans ‘niebbe’. Failing that, tinned sardines, mayonnaise or chocolate spread (a particular favourite of our Gambian team mates!) would suffice.

    And, if we were especially lucky to find it, a steaming mug of instant coffee, mixed with syrupy sweetened condensed milk! *A rare treat indeed!

    Images by: Jason Florio, 2009 - taken whilst on ‘A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey’

    *coffee made this way is found much more in the Senegal border regions of The Gambia. Coffee drinking is prevalent among the Senegalese. And its not just the drinking but  the ritual of making the coffee the way that they do. This ritual is not dissimilar to how the Gambians make their ‘attaya’ Chinese Gunpowder green tea - pouring the mixture from glass to glass until just so (along with copious amounts of white sugar!).

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/expeditionafrica/

     
  2. Image: Florio-2009 Alkalo Kebba Kora, Bansang village, The Gambia, West Africa

    18th November 2009 - A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush team reach the village of Bansang and Florio gets to photograph his 12th chief (Alkalo), Kebba Kora, on our 930km walk around the small West African country.

    The village of Bansang is actually more of a town - sprawling and densely populated - surrounded by rice paddy fields (faro’s). Jammeh, the president is promoting Gambia to to grow their own rice again, as opposed to depending on imported rice from far away places such as Thailand(!). There are many swam lands in the Central River Division of The Gambia, which makes it ideal territory to cultivate rice.

    When we arrived to meet the Alkalo, we could see many women bent over, working hard in the faro’s as we set up the black backdrop for Florio to take the Alkalo’s portrait.

    Kebba, the Alkalo told us that hippo’s were a huge problem for the rice farmer as they come up from the Gambia River, which is very near by, and eat the crops during the night. Often devastating a whole field in one go, before the farmers even have a chance to harvest their crops. This can then lead to food-scarcity not only from feeding their families the rice but also from selling it at the local lumo’s (huge weekly markets)

    With the Gambia River within walking distance, after the shoot, the team walked into the town to explore and to see the river. We got there just as dusk was settling in. So beautiful out there, as we watched a local ferry take its passengers to the other side (where we would be in a few short weeks - insh’allah!)

    The Alkalo very kindly offered to let us use his radio-station to camp in for the night. The building was still under construction - i.e. a long way from being finished! So, Florio and I hung our mosquito from the ceiling, in one of the empty rooms (after we swept away the rubble and dust!) and laid down the Therm-a-rest mattresses on the concrete floor. The rest of the team, unrolled their mattresses in one of the other empty rooms. Our ‘bathroom’ was a bucket (or behind the house!) in what would one day actually be a bathroom. However, as yet, the bath tub lay upended and the toilet unplumbed.

    Once back from our walk, Janneh set up the furno (a small hand-crafted stove) and lit the kembo (charcoal) on the balcony (again, after much sweeping away of debris) to make tea for the team. We lit some candles and got the incense burning (to keep away the pertinacious mosquito’s!) just as the Alkalo’s son very kindly brought a family bowl of fish and rice, from his mother, and a loaf of tapalapa to mop of the oily juice…….delicious, after a long days walk (21km) in the hot sun

    Distance walked to-date: 346km