Thursday, May 14, 2009

Across the Moa

- - - -double click on image to enlarge  - - - - 

The woman in this picture was very upset with me. Here we were, in the middle of the rain season, all in a very tippy dugout canoe ferry heading from the south bank of the Moa River to the north bank near Vaama in Nongowa Chiefdom.  Our ferryman ran a business ferrying folks across this treacherous stretch. During the rain season, when several inches might fall in a day, and where 200 inches of rain fell in a season (May to October) the River Moa had a strong current and was dangerous.  In this area the nearest bridge crossing was probably 6 miles.  Villages on both sides were small - maybe 15 houses at most - but there were no roads to these villages (there were bush paths) - and markets were far.  From villages situated on the south side (behind the ferryman) it was a 3 mile walk once you crossed the river to the road (Dama Rd). From here it was another several miles to Kenema and the big market there.  Although many of these villages were self sufficient - as rain season progressed the rice stores would become low - and if your planning was not good - you might have to get to Kenema to purchase more rice at the market.  Anyway - here I was, sharing this ferry with this woman and her daughter, and with my friend Patrick (Garlough).  I had my camera - as I always did - and turned around to take this photo op.  The canoe shook as I did this, and she grimmaced (she probably did not swim; she was brave enough to be crossing by canoe ferry; she did not need my gyrations).  I took a number of photos then turned back, kneeling, as we finished our journey to the other side (and to Vaama).  Once we got to the shore, she yelled at me in Mende. She was not rude - she was angry - and she had been correct. I apologized in my best Mende and she accepted my apology allowing me to take her and her daughter's picture. I sent them a copy. 

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