When a man drives by the strip at Lumley Beach in downtown Freetown at night, he'll probably hear a sharp hiss. That's not an unusual sound in Sierra Leone. People hiss instead of whistling — to get your attention, to call for the bill at a restaurant, to buy a bottle of water on the street.
But the hissing along a stretch of beachfront road at Lumley Beach has a different purpose. It's the sound prostitutes make, and they've perfected the hiss. That's why they're called serpents.