I love the seeming choas that often comes when traveling in Africa – which in reality, my Westernized sensibilities of trains, buses, ferries, being on time (more often than not, lets be fair), sees travel in Africa as disorganization, confusion mayhem… . And, my constant (re)discovering the Zen art of patience – each time I take a journey here, over and over (perhaps, in this department, I’m not as Zen as I like to think I am, after all).
Arriving at the ferry port in Soma, where a couple of ancient-looking ferries connect the Trans Gambia Highway between Soma and Farafenni, across the River Gambia – feeling as if the Sahelian sun, at any minute, is going to burn a hole right through the thin metal of the car roof – and finding around 150 cars parked ahead of us. And, that’s not to mention the miles of articulated lorries parked paralell – the first few miles of which are already thickly coated in days worth of Harmattan dust, the drivers camped beneath the hulking trucks, seeking shade from the baking sun, brewing barada after barada pot of attayah tea, on small furnos (the charcoal – ‘kembo’ - traders do a booming trade at these crossings).
Now, where is that Zen patience again?
After three hours of going nowhere today, we threw Zen and it’s sidekick patience out of the window and paid ‘tea money’ to the head security man to get a ‘fast track‘ ticket to the front of the line!! Not something we would normally do, or recommend, but if we were to get to Farafenni to teach our scheduled Photos Tell Stories workshop this century, it was a necessary evil, and worth every Gambian Dalasi (a grand sum of around $8.00)!
All images © Helen Jones-Florio
Helen Jones-Florio is currently in The Gambia, producing ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘ with photographer and tutor, Jason Florio. To find out more, please visit our PTS’s blog