Rural life

The car winds around barely visible tracks in the dry sand. We lose sight of the final buildings prior to the lagoon, tracing out a route between palm trees, sand and sea. After some searching, we come to a fence-line and a rusty, ajar gate.

My friend has already disappeared beyond it into the trees with the baby. I collect the remaining belongings, lock the car, and enter with Yaw, the toddler.

The round house is built of clay with a straw roof. Inside are mattresses and a table. Outside is space to wash and cook.

The Lebanese man who lives here takes out a large metal bowl. We sit around this on the floor and eat together. This is followed by Arabic coffee and a smoke.

We sleep. The Franco-Senega-Lebanese cohort sleep in the cool shade of the hut. Not wanting to undermine a British stereotype I lie outside and sleep in the sun.

I sleep with one eye and one ear open. An eye for any toddler misdemeanors. An ear on the conversation: My friends discuss everything and nothing, from finding themselves at home in Senegal coming from a background of Lebanese civil war and the military, to current problems with love.

LGBT status is discussed, and – winking with one eye – the kind but impenetrable Lebanese sage volunteers that he is part of the LGBT community of Senegal: not because he is LGBT, but because he is liminal, betwixt, between. Neither Lebanese nor Senegalese. Neither a merchant in Dakar nor a rural bushmen. He is simply all of these things in different ways and at different points. This makes me smile.

I swim with Yaw in the basin then walk him back through the palm trees to the hut on my shoulders. The glistening water drops from our bodies onto the hot sand and instantly dries.

I help him do a poo under a tree. The solid poo nonetheless sticks to his underwear. I find a way to bounce it onto the floor without it touching either of us.

The sun is sinking and the moon is rising, and my friend fears she may not find her way out of the lagoon’s many overlapping and indistinct dust tracks after dark. We pack up the car and leave the day’s paradise behind.

We are tired. Yet satisfied.

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