Saturday, 5 April 2014

'Early Morning Run in...Lumley Beach, Freetown'

Last light: 1902 hrs
Time start: 1630 hrs
Time finish: 1710 hrs
Weather: 29C
Circumstances: Saturday, late afternoon beach run

Something different today. Not many capitals have a beach. Freetown has. Lumley Beach. Comes to life late afternoon, early evening.

Start point opposite Family Kingdom Hotel. Aberdeen end of Lumley. Atlantic Ocean on my right. Running towards the mountains. Heading south on firm sand. Low tide. Great expanse of beach to run on. Head into a slight breeze, should be faster coming back.

Nearly had a guest runner this afternoon. Young glamorous Sierra Leonean lawyer. Ayo. She'll be a future guest. Hoping for today. Wanted to use the line, 'Ayo, Ayo, off to the beach we go.....'. I'll save for when she guests.

'O's. Glance across the estuary to the other side of peninsular. Lungi. Funny times there late 2012. Hotel was badly managed by a lunatic Portuguese fellow. Basil Fawlty from Lisbon. Emotional. Temperamental. Theatrical. Chain smoking. Expresso drinking. Funny. I give you, Riccardo.

He absconded Freetown early 2013 taking the family silver. Left behind massive debt. Loans taken from local banks, fraudulently using the hotel as security. He invested mainly in poultry. His businesses did extremely well. Disappeared to Brazil for an operation. Never came back. Despite the alleged embezzlement, a character.

I booked 25 rooms for 3 months. Hotel was a dump. Only option. BMI (old British Midland) had 6 permanent rooms for aircrew. British Airways bought BMI end 2012. Great news. We now had BA to London. However, can you imagine BA middle aged divas, some of whom flew with the Wright Brothers, staying at Riccardo's? Nor me. Apparently they took one look, that was that. No aircrew in Freetown. BA currently overnight in Monrovia. Need to toughen up.

Busy this afternoon. Football matches all along the beach. Plenty of joggers and walkers. Quick stretch at the wall. Smell of urine is strong. No public toilets in Freetown. People, mostly men, go where and when they want. Certainly not shy about getting their choppers out. Rubbish everywhere. Pity. This could be a beautiful beach. It is a beautiful beach. Just needs cleaning. No rubbish bins. There's needles, medical waste, all sorts. Can't pretend it's not there.

Not a patch on beaches along the peninsular - see Post 3. It's an urban beach. In Freetown we all love this beach. Part of the heartbeat. Has everything. People watching. Running. Festivals. Football. Night life. Fishing. Parties. Weddings. Beach bars.

This post will be written, aided by a few sundowners, in one of the bars. In fact, there's my writing spot. Bistro Bar. Along from Bistro, comes O Bar. Probably Freetown's number 1 beach bar.

Enjoying this run. Running right at the oceans edge. Only place I listen to music. Too risky in the urban sprawl. There you need every sense you have, plus additional ones. Here I relax. The beach playlist? Starts with 2 live Sam Cooke songs to warm up. I'm sweating lightly. 10 mins in. Run past Roy's, one of the most popular bars.

It's a crescent shaped beach. A rocky outcrop each end completes the effect. Probably 4 kms long. It's out and back today. Shirt off, capture those rays. UK for Easter. Soon be mixing with Whitey's from Blighty. Elvis Presley, 'Suspicious Minds'...pick up the pace...

Still chuckling about Riccardo. He's probably smiling on a beach somewhere in Brazil with expresso and a cigarette. I recall the bizarre conversations.

"Hey Marco, no problemo. I deal only with you & Bernardo."

"Thanks Riccardo."

"An expresso?" "This machine from Portugal, good expresso."

"Thanks Riccardo."

"Hey Marco, in dise hotel, my golden rule, then no problemo?"

Waited with baited breath. What could it possibly be in this fleapito.

"Marco, only one rule. No prostitutes. Privado."

"Hey Marco, another expresso?"


By the way, my name is Mark. Oh, and that's a whole lot of 'O's. Ayo, you should've come today. In fact, more 'O's than the average conversation in Calgary.

Swerve up the beach around the fishermen. 10 guys either side of the nets hauling in. Forming a large U shape. There's rhythm to their work. The fellow at the front sounds the beat to match the tide. Second catch of the day. Young boy at the end of the chain neatly coils the rope. I pause... take a couple of photos. Higher up the beach, near the road, is a local fish market. Exclusively women and children. Preparing for the catch to come in. There is a strong smell of fish. Better than urine.

Away from Aberdeen the beach is looking better. Palm trees on my left. Less rubbish. Actually looking cleaner. I run this beach a lot, normally at first light. Today I'm noticing more. Have a blog to write.

More beach bars. Some look good. Some don't. Past 'King David'. Past 'Q Bar'. Even with the camber I can still see over the road. Hotels. Most I wouldn't put my Mother-in-Law in. Hang on, hasty, let me think about that...

Arrive turnaround point. Atlantic Bar. A long established beach watering hole. Move up to the soft sand under the palm trees, head back north. A wonderful view up the mountains. Across the road Freetown Golf Club. I don't play golf. Don't know much about golf. Despite this I'm family champion at the Keswick crazy golf course. Absolutely wiped the floor with my daughter last time out. She struggled with the big clubs. What can you do when you're 7?

Run back down to waters edge. Wedding party ahead. The Bride looks resplendent in white. Bridesmaids in purple. Family group of about 40 posing for photos. Some are taking donkey rides. Some struggling with the sand in high heels. Women love heels in SL, especially my divas, sand won't hinder them. This young wedding party warms the heart.

I've talked of smells. Sounds are distinct too. Every bar has speakers the size of my divas handbags. Although I'm on track 6, Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run) the steady Afro beat overpowers my headphones. Forget them. Lets run to the beat. Urban beach, it's naturally noisy.

Sun is getting lower. On the horizon ships at anchor waiting for iron ore from upcountry. China bound. Mining revenues provide about 12.5% to GDP. Projected 20% by 2020. Huge impact on this poor country.

My finish point ahead. Hope you've enjoyed this run. Time to warm down. Head phones back in. Ah, there it is. Mr Phil. 'Another Day In Paradise'. Certainly was. Sundowner time...

Before I go...

The mandatory lawyer joke. From 'Disorder in the American Courts', things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters. My thanks to Agnatha.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

P.S. I've received emails concerning Escargot. He struggled on the run in Sean Conakry. He's fine now. Currently on a much needed fitness drive in Freetown.

P.P.S. BA - you're the best airline in the world. Want to upgrade me next Sunday? I'm ready, willing, and able.