At times it seemed as though I were back in the western region of Ghana, listening to the village expire at night. The sky infused with stars, low lights and the occasional sweeping of trees. Bare feet in dust. Siblings speaking instead of spellbound by the TV. The muffled end-of-day speech between man and wife.
Of course we were all in high-tech tents with our phones on roaming and our Chinese-produced camp kitchenware and some people with the luxury of a small fridge.
But it was there at times. The quiet dynamic of village life, so far removed from fences, neighbours, garages, elevators, numbers on doors. Families living alongside one another, in space delineated by nothing more than a line of damp towels. A group of women cooking in the half dark, or a pair of teenagers tramping up to the washrooms afterwards with a tub of dishes. Long table talk into the night, a game of cards, a man snoring on a hammock.
* * *
The sea was a dusty trail away. Green translucent water, a row of yellow buoys to swim towards and back, over and over. A wooden bar for pastis around midday or some chestnut-derived Corsican beer. Crepes for when hunger kicked in somewhere along the afternoon. Rum in my espresso (recommended for the most languid afternoons).
As well as the almond oil I think I polished off four books.
On the ferry back I slept on deck under the massive iron funnel where the wind swept in the night. Storeys of cars and tanned holidaymakers underneath. The hardness already flexing in people's eyes, the idyll over. Back to cities and cars. I burrowed down in my sleeping bag on the bench. Watched the dawn wash over Livorno. Felt degrees of serenity, exhaustion, resolution.
It's going to be a tricky task getting back into work.