My apartment is, literally, merely yards from the Atlantic Ocean, close enough to feel the waves breaking on the beach. The sand is yellow-orange, medium-to coarse-grained with small pebbles, and in places there are rounded gunmetal rocks, looking soft enough to stroke. I tried to find some information on the geology of the coast here, and think that these might be basalt, but that’s just a (barely) educated guess. There are some shells, but not many; some sandpipers, but not many, and though I’ve seen plenty of people fishing I’ve yet to see a single fish. Nor have I seen any whales, though I do spend time looking for them several days each week! Palms dot the edge of what in most places is civilization rather than forest, and immediately beyond them are the businesses and residences of Monrovia. Supposedly there are strong rip tides here, and I have yet to see anyone do more than play or bathe right at the water’s edge. Since I don’t know anyone who ventures out in the ocean to tell me where it is or isn’t safe to enter, I have elected not to experiment deeper than ankle-height.
It all sounds idyllic, and the beach is beautiful, so long as you use your distant vision. Near vision will show you the inevitable garbage – the discarded fishing gear, the ubiquitous plastic bags tangled and snarled around bits of wood and rubber and glass; even the occasional needle or syringe. Tempting though it is, I don’t go barefoot.
I’ve heard mixed things about the safety of the beach: It’s not safe. It’s safe if you stay near the hotels. It’s not safe if you’re alone. It’s not safe if you’re a female. It’s safe if you’re a white female. It’s not safe after dark. I have so far limited my solo excursions to daylight hours, stopping at the edge of the “hotel district,” such as it is. I’ve seen many people jogging, playing soccer or just strolling and have stopped briefly to chat with several of them. Truthfully, they have stopped to chat with me, to ask why I am picking dead grasshoppers and beetles off the beach or collecting rocks in a bucket. I imagine they must think me the local equivalent of the crazy cat lady.