For today’s post, I thought I’d share one of my favourite love poems. It’s by the wonderful William Shakespeare, Sonnet 130.
I love Sonnet 130 because he describes his mistress in the most realistic way, without exaggerating her beauty, but by writing her as she is. I think this is perfect because we live in a world where we idealise perfection, we want to appear perfect, have perfect relationships and be perfect ourselves (especially on social media).
So today, on St Valentine’s Day, I urge you all to love the imperfect in everyone; friends, family, partners and most importantly in yourself. Love doesn’t have to be perfect.
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
I looked about me as my eyes seem to have malfunctioned, for all I saw was darkness. I found it hard to believe that my eyes were open, and yet here I was, eyes wide open and seeing nothing, no light, no shadows, just complete darkness. The only way I knew my eyes were open was through my constant blinking, trying to adjust to the darkness, but it was impossible, there was no adjusting to this.
I could feel my arms and legs, light as a feather, as if I were floating. There was no gravity pulling me down. I tried feeling around me, trying to grab hold of something to keep me stable, but there was nothing to hold on to. I continued to reach out around me, desperate to find something, anything to hold, to touch, to brush my hand against, anything other than myself.
The sound, or lack of, was the worst part of it all, it was unbearable. The silence was unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. There was nothing, no noise, no whisper, absolutely nothing. It’s as if my ears had disappeared and darkness had taken its place. I stayed there, for what seemed like eternity, wondering what had happened to time, and whether or not it would find me.
I love going back to Sierra Leone because it’s a great place for me to rest and relax.
If you want to visit Sierra Leone, rest assured that all your needs will be taken care of. Tourists are treated like kings and queens, they don’t have to do anything but enjoy. From the moment you leave airport to getting the boat from the airport to Freetown to the moment you enter your accommodation, there are multiple people wanting to hold your bags, give you water, and help you. It’s ridiculous. My mum calls it lazy culture because people get lazy when they stay for too long.
Also beware that not everyone wants to help out of kindness, some people want to be tipped, so make sure you have some Leones with you.
For example, when I was in the car and I wanted to buy roasted corn, but the corn vendor was 10 footsteps away, people (and by people I mean locals who are about in the street) offer to go and buy it for me so I don’t have to walk. It’s the same with directions, people don’t just direct you, they take you there, they get in your car and direct you the whole way, before making their own way to where they were going. It’s great because most of the time they are doing it out of genuine kindness.
As a tourist you would want to get around and visit different parts of the city. You could hire a car and a private driver, or you could use public transport.
We have 4 different types of public transportation. The first are buses, which are called poda podas in krio. Poda podas have always been in Sierra Leone as far as I can remember, and it is a very popular method of transport. Unlike the UK, these buses are not all uniform, they have different names, lights, patterns, designs and sizes. They even have American school buses (the yellow ones with the ‘School Bus’ sign) that are used as poda podas.
The second are taxis, which are yellow and they remind me of New York taxis but with a different design.
The third are motor cycles. These are called ocadas. They are the fastest form of transportation as they can wiggle through traffic. They’re fast, easy, and fun to try out.
The final is keekee, these are recent additions to Sierra Leonian streets and are from India. The drivers are impatient as they want to wiggle through traffic like the ocadas but are not always successful as they are bigger than ocadas.
If you do visit, I suggest you try the different methods of transportation just to experience them. I personally prefer the keekees (pictured above).
The beaches are absolutely stunning in Sierra Leone. We have stretches and stretches of sand all around the coast. We have yellow and white sand beaches. Most beaches have the ocean on one side, and the mountains as a backdrop.
Tourist season is November and December, so if you visit in late January or February, the beaches are empty and peaceful. My uncle lives 10 minutes walk from the beach and goes jogging on it every day, whilst my cousins go there to play football.
Sierra Leone is a very mountainous country. There is never a moment when you’re not viewing the mountains or the valleys. It’s absolutely stunning
The views are magnificent. Below are the views from my house (from both sides), that I woke up to every day.
On one side is the river and on the other is mountains.
We also have palm trees everywhere, which makes the views all the more beautiful.
There is a market on almost every street is Freetown. It’s one of the things I love and hate. It means that the streets are always busy and heavy with traffic. The main markets are in the city centre near Victoria Park. There are markets on Malama Thomas street, and Goodrich Street. You can buy anything from fresh fish, to bangles, to lace, to slippers.
Only drink bottled water, western stomach do not take well to local water.
Never pay the asking price in markets, haggle haggle haggle.
People love to beep their horns – so be prepared for excessive noise.
Try the local cuisine, especially sea food.
Make sure you eat at Crown Bakery and Lagoonda (which has an amazing view)
For my first trip of 2019, I visited Sierra Leone, the country I call home. It was an amazing trip and I already miss it. I miss the sunshine, the people, the clothes and most importantly the food. My posts on Sierra Leone has been split into 2 parts, part 1 is the culture, and part 2 is Sierra Leone as a holiday destination.
Sierra Leone is a small country off the coast of west Africa. Our neighbouring countries are Guinea and Liberia. We have a population of 7.5 million people (less that the population of London) and our capital city is Freetown.
Like in every country, people come in different shapes and sizes, different personalities and characters, but there is one trait that I think is found in most Sierra Leonians. We are very religious. Not in the ‘you must believe what I believe’ kind of way, but in a ‘we believe in God and will reference Him at every opportunity’ kind of way.
Sierra Leone is a Muslim majority country with a Christian minority but that means nothing to most Sierra Leonians. Muslim children are sent to Catholic schools and vice versa. The only things that parents care about is the level of education, not the religion that runs it. On almost every bus that I saw there was a reference to religion whether it was ‘Jesus is Lord’ or ‘May Allah forgive us all’, it was there.
Muslim and Christian intermarriage/ conversion is a common thing. Our culture is about people believing what they want to belief as long as it makes them into good people, no one will object or oppose to it. In my family alone, there have been so many intermarriages and conversions that we have Mohammeds who are Christians and Marys who are Muslims. It’s just who we are.
Our love of religion/ God is about freedom to be who you are. You won’t see many women wearing head scarfs for religious purposes, but you will see head ties at weddings as a cultural/ clothing attire.
Food is my absolute favourite part about being Sierra Leonian. I love love love the food. As a pescatarian, travelling around the world is usually difficult, food wise, as there are usually limited options. However, in Sierra Leone, we love sea food and we have plenty of it.
We have fresh sea food caught on the day and we have west African classics such as jollof rice.
The thing I miss most of all is the street food. I love Sierra Leonian street food.
From fresh fruits to roasted corn. This is my favourite street food (top right), fried fish and cassava bread.
As Sierra Leonians we love colour, we absolutely love bright, vibrant colours and prints. I particularly love floral prints.
There is a cotton cloth that women tie around their waist and wear like a skirt. It’s called a lappa.
The lappa comes in different colours and prints. Its worn by teenagers, mother and grandmothers. The younger women usually wear a blouse and lappa together (as shown in the picture). Whereas older women in their homes just wear the lappa and tie it over their breast (although in some villages the women tie it under their breasts resulting in their breasts hanging out – but this is in their homes and it’s usually very old women that do this).
We also have different kinds of cloths.
We have lace, cotton, nylon, wax and other kinds of cloths. Lace is the most expensive material, and cotton is the cheapest. Lace is usually reserved for weddings, birthdays and special events, not something you would wear to meet a friend for coffee.