We left our house around 8 arriving in Pirang at about 9 and then we walked to the tributary where we would launch the boats. Once we were all there and the boats were ready to go, we climbed in and took off. Now there needs to be some explanation here. Our drivers were local Balanta fishermen, some from the Pirang church, who go out at night to fish. Since it was cheaper to pay them than go with a tour group, we opted for them to take us in their local fishing boats. As I said before there were 6 of us, with 4 fishermen, and we needed two boats so the boats weren't extremely large. We could have fit in one, but it wouldn't have been the best idea. The local boats resemble a large, fiberglass canoe, with boards on the top edge to make the edges higher. The seats inside were boards and small logs, some attached some not. Lori and I decided to take the front "seat" which was really a board that wasn't attached to the boat, it just sat on the lip from the edge where the fiberglass met the board. Then there was a small log about 4 inches in diameter behind so that the board wouldn't slide past that point.
On the way there the water was quite smooth, there wasn't much wind and it only took about an hour. We then got out and walked around on the island, seeing the ruins of the building where the slaves were housed. Unfortunately the island is eroding away from the waves, and while it is trying to be preserved it continues to get smaller. It was definitely a humbling experience being able to see a place where the slavery movement was in full swing, but I will admit, it was hard to get a real feel for what it was like when it was active. Also, we didn't have a tour guide so we didn't know all of the details of what each room was used for.
Lisa wanted to do a live broadcast from the island, so she and Armstrong climbed a tour to get cell phone service and went on the air. We have to say it was quite a sight since Armstrong had on a fuzzy, black hat, his sunglasses and his bright orange lifejacket while sitting on top of a tour doing a radio broadcast.
As a disclaimer, we did have life jackets and since I'm a fairly strong swimmer, this trip wasn't scary per se, it was just adventurous. We were even able to see dolphins from a distance even though we hoped they would be closer. Needless to say, we came back, wind blown, slightly sunburned and quite salty (the river water was salty considering it's closeness to the ocean). Here are some pictures of our adventure, some are a bit blurry do to salt on the lens.
our boats await
here we go!
Baobob tree and cannon
model of Fort James
the large crack under our "seat"
our seat, minus the board in front of it
coming back into shore