I just couldn’t scratch my itchy feet. I had been at home for 3 years. I wanted to see the world but didn’t want to travel for travel sake. There needed to be a mission, something constructive to do at the same time.
Over the months I had made a few enquiries about mission organisations to see where I would fit. That was when I heard about the Doulos; Operation Mobilisation’s converted ship. It was the largest floating bookshop in the world. It was a self contained “town” with schools, hairdresser, dentist, hospital, laundry, bakery, nursery, offices and 250 people from all over the world.
It sounded like a dream come true; to be able to see the world and work at the same time. I sent in my application knowing it would take a while to hear from them. Resigning from two jobs, both needing a months notice was a bit risky. If I resigned and wasn’t accepted on the ship, I would be jobless. I decided to take the risk. It paid off and I was off to join the ship in Brazil.
The agent’s response to my resignation was, “What a waste,” but Wilf and Val were excited. Dad had been putting money aside in our Post Office accounts and I drew that out. It was exactly the amount I needed to pay for my ticket from Cape Town to Rio and I had some savings to get me through the first couple of months.
I was beside myself. I couldn’t wait to get to South America. The ship would be sailing from Brazil to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Mexico, Florida and then through the Panama Canal and all the way around and back to Brazil. It would take two years.
I sat on the carpet in our little passage and found my favourite book*. I knew it off by heart and every photo had been touched over and over again; for years. I was going to the source of the Amazon River.
I flew into Rio and straight onto Belem with other new recruits. There was an open jeep waiting for us and we were driven to the ship on some very rough roads. It was in that jeep that I met Henriette Hugo; a very beautiful French speaking Huguenot from Cape Town. We were kindred spirits.
As I walked up the gangplank one of the flirty O.M. boys asked me my name. When I said “Linda” he said, “Oh that means “beautiful” in Spanish. Muy Linda”. I was flattered, but not there to flirt, so I smiled and was escorted to my little four berth cabin.
*See: Books and Jazz