Lumley Beach

It’s been a tough two weeks, but I finally sense some calmness rolling through. Work has been hectic – there is so much to do, and I have had to travel up country frequently. I had also frantically been trying to put the finishing touches on our house and get the generator installed so that I could move in.
I finally moved in yesterday, and overnight, it rained. The storms came crashing in over the mountains with stunning lightning and roaring thunder, reminding us all why the Portuguese explorers gave Sierra Leone the name Serra Lyoa (Lioness Mountain) in the 15th century. What a sight they must have beheld when they witnessed the storms and roaring thunder, and saw the mountains shaped like lions rising out of the sea as they approached the country on their ship!
I woke up to a cool morning, the air fresh and purified by the night’s rain. The house was jogging distance to Lumley beach so I could hardly contain my excitement about actually being able to jog from my home to the ocean!
Freetown is located on a peninsula of land that juts out to the Atlantic Ocean on the west side of Sierra Leone. There are multiple beaches that line the peninsula – beaches with yellow sand, gold sand, white sand, and black sand. Run-of the mill beaches, and deserted, breathtakingly beautiful beaches where you can spend hours without running into someone else. It has beaches lined with sand, or with rock, or with trees, and beaches where the mountains rise directly out of the sea. Sierra Leone is indeed one of the countries with the most beautiful beaches in the world, a country with a beach for every mood and every occasion.
Lumley beach is the closest to the city of Freetown and is therefore the most heavily used. It has about a four mile coastline and is lined by a large paved boardwalk on the side of the road closest to the beach, and by hotels and restaurants on the other side. It is just a regular beach – nothing spectacular about the sand, but it is still beautiful. It is relatively crowded because of the proximity to the city, so Sierra Leoneans are not overly enamored by it – they use it mostly for exercise and for going out to seaside beach bars, clubs, and restaurants. Most people drive about 30-40 minutes further out into the peninsula to visit the more famous beaches like Tokeh, Lakka, Number 2 River, Black Johnson, Kent, BawBaw, John Obey, and Bureh Beach, when they want to swim and spend quality time at the beach. I wasn’t being picky though, I had lived far away from any ocean in the US for decades, so I was just thankful to be able to jog to the beach!
I jogged down the steep and mountainous Spur Road, making sure to cross the road and jog on the side of the street where cars are going up the hill. I had been duly warned and begged by my mom to only jog on the uphill side, because cars and trucks have been known to have their brakes fail when going downhill, crashing into pedestrians and parked cars causing fatalities! I assured her that I would always jog on the “safe” side of the mountainous road because I really and truly love being alive and if I were to even think of jeopardizing my safety, she could rest assured that I would never jeopardize Sheba’s safety. She seemed satisfied with that answer because she knows that Sheba is my ball yeye!
So, I jogged down the mountain road, down through the congested Lumley roundabout and got on the beach road. I was rewarded by the siren sound of the giant waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto Lumley beach, and the salt-tinged smell of the ocean. The roads were well constructed with huge side-walks, so it was very easy to navigate. I went a quarter of the way up the beach promenade, then had to turn back as I only wanted to jog for an hour. I knew that I might actually not have the physical capacity to jog up the mountain if I went too long and got too tired!
I’m a true water baby and I love the ocean. I’ve been jogging every weekend since I returned, but I usually drive to the beach and park my car before jogging. Getting up and jogging to the beach directly from home was truly a treat! Over the past three weeks, I had fallen in love with a stray beach puppy while jogging. He would frolic along the sand and waves every weekend morning, and sometimes run behind me. I would stop and play with him and ended up giving his apparent caretaker some money to buy milk for him, telling myself that I didn’t really need another puppy. I finally broke down last weekend and brought Sheba to see him. They frolicked together in the sand and surf, and Sheba indicated approval, so I adopted him and brought him home. The kids had met him via FaceTime and had been badgering their Dad to adopt him for the past three weeks, so they were quite excited! They decided to call him Cuddles. Cuddles and Sheba were playing when I left for my morning jog.
Jogging back from the beach, it was a little more congested, and I realized that I needed to leave home earlier the next time, especially if I planned on bringing Sheba, because Sheba and crowds don’t mix well. Taking Sheba out in crowds is an ordeal because people stop and stare and point and loudly exclaim “aaayy-aaayy, you see dog”, everywhere we go. Her sheer size is mind-boggling to many, plus I also worry about how she might react in a crowd – she has never bitten anyone, but I don’t want the chance of that happening.
I got to Spur Road and was daunted by the prospect of the uphill climb back! Somehow, I jog-crawled up that mountain and felt such accomplishment and relief when I saw my junction! I quickly crossed the road, sprinted down my side road and made it home in just under an hour. Sheba was waiting for me at the gate, quiet upset that I went without her!
I had to leave her because she had been sick for the past couple of days – she had decreased appetite and was very weak, and all she did was sleep. I had been really worried because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. The vet had travelled and I couldn’t get immediate help, so I was very relieved when I noticed that she had diarrhea. It was not bloody and she was not vomiting, so I figured she picked up a gastro-intestinal bug of some sort. Her vet in the US had recommended metronidazole for this, so I started her on medications and she finally started eating some dog biscuits followed by dry dog food, and her diarrhea resolved! I was horrified thinking of what could have happened if she did not get better quickly, and was so happy when she turned around. Given all that, I figured she needed to rebuild her strength. She can go jogging with me next weekend.

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