Inside the house, even though it had now been fully dark for nearly an hour, was still boiling; Just walking around we were sweating cobs. We decided to take the table and chairs out on to the veranda so we took everything off it and carried it towards the door. I forgot to mention it was a double door so we had to work out how to open them both before we could squeeze the furniture out, but then we carried the food and the plates and forks out. Gray then came up trumps and said “Who would like some wine?” He produced a bottle of South African Red from his hand baggage. We poured it in to our tumblers and it helped the stew go down easily.
We talked for a while, then stopped and soaked up the atmosphere. Our driver, Ibrahim, had parked up the vehicle next to the house so we had a clear prospect both to the road about ten yards away, and up and down the rows of houses. To the east, the main road back to the ferry disappeared into the woodland that surrounded a small stream. Up the road two lines of houses guided travellers to the centre of the village. At this time of night, we could see where the houses were mainly by the fires behind each one. Everyone was cooking outdoors in the dry season, setting up little hearths on neatly swept bare ground. There was very little noise and what there was mingled with the natural sounds of the forest, the crickets and wind blowing through drying leaves. There were lots of low voices from different directions, mainly murmurings with the odd outburst of laughter, children giggling or may be a baby crying. You could hear cooking pots being clinked together on the hearths, or the sound of scrubbing as a woman cleaned the used dishes after their meals. There was the bleating of goats and the clucking of chickens. One or two people passed along the road in front of us. They obviously spotted that someone was staying in the guest house by our torches and the noise we were making; they were used to the place being closed up for long periods. They may have been surprised when we said “bon soir” or “good evening” as they drew close, but most mumbled a greeting back to us.