The last Saturday

Sitting on the front step of my house looking over our wooded compound, the sun is gradually setting on a warm Saturday evening, my last in Sierra Leone. In the past hour, we arrived back from grilled lobster on the beach and playing in the river just as it flows into the ocean. The tide was out and we could walk across the river and on to the shore. My son enjoyed lying in the water with the back of his head washed in the river. Returning home, the kids slept the whole way, and the passage through the market bustle of Lumley was relatively quick, despite the main opposition party holding a street campaign. I express pride that my Rav4 has completed its last major journey before being sold.

In the course of an hour back at the compound, we see everyone bar one of the inhabitants. In our absence, Moustapha, the caretaker, has organized a fire to burn rubbish, but a dead tree at the site of the fire is now smoking, worrying my wife T. Our neighbours, C and baby G, come out to play with J, while M helps Moustapha and his boys pull down the tree and cool the embers down with water. A young puppy that’s scared for its life and only arrived in the compound yesterday is being enticed out of its hide-out. For T, it’s the former dog reincarnated in some way, ‘Puppy’, who was recently put down down after colliding with a car coming out of the compound. Indeed the new dog does look remarkably similar.

An Italian man staying with our neighbour G comes out and runs his own dog around the compound, as the kids play about under the unoccupied but just refurbished new house. Then neighbour D wanders over with a beer to exchange news – he climbed one of the main peaks on the peninsula today and shows us a photo. The sun is setting over the sea, much more visible now bushes around the old house have been cut back. Warm social evenings with laughter.

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