A morning stroll

I was up country this week. After rising early, I took a stroll out from the hotel while awaiting breakfast. It was before seven but you already had the feeling a hot day was coming – far hotter than what we get on the coast. The hotel itself was Lebanese-owned and the separate bedroom blocks around a narrow quad each had a large 4×4 parked outside.
Outside the gate, the high wall, and the G4S security guards, the mud road was wide and looked like it had recently been flattened. The ground was moist with dew yet to be burned off, and the majority of traffic outside was schoolchildren walking in all directions, and the odd dog shuffling around. The hotel was on the outskirts of town, so the land in the vicinity was a mix of small homes and fields. There was green space. A stream with croaking frogs ran through fields a short distance from the hotel, and I picked one of the mud crossing paths and headed to a small bridge. Children said hello as they passed. Around homes, kids were washing themselves from buckets, lathered from head to toe in soap. Parents were sitting on their front steps greeting passers-by and exchanging news with the rest of their families. There was often laughter in the air.
I’m sure they knew I was from the hotel. They probably considered I was one of those crazy people who’d waste $80 for a bed for the night. I obviously had more money than sense.
An idea came to me to make a little video one day juxtaposing the start to the day here, and then with some busy professional in the West. Emphasising (unfairly, but for a point) how the latter could go to work without anyone saying hello, and never sharing a joke. At the end they would both see representations of the other – the westerner would say a charity advert showing a miserable African, and the West African would see something aspirational showing the apparently glamorous life in the paradisiacal west.
In less than a month I’ve been in deep snow in the foothills of the alps, spread out on perfectly cut lawns at an English country house on a warmish Spring day, and here several hours from the coast in Sierra Leone. It’s a privilege.

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