There were about 300 people on the Doulos. Most were there because they wanted to serve and see the world at the same time. It was a great way to do both.
I fell in love with South America and her people; Spending weekends with families in small villages and towns, practising our Spanish, learning from their cultures and eating lots of amazing food.
We had to get up early to exercise no matter what. That was a challenge in Argentina when the main meal was brought out at 11 pm. We slept on heavy stomachs way after midnight and got up a few hours later to run.
It took us two years to circumvent the continent; Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina. We had also stopped in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Mexico and Florida.
Lindy and her family lived in Kentucky. When we docked in Florida, I got a week off and took a Grey Hound Bus to see them. It was a long trip but worth it. There were so many changes and we had all grown up. I got a taste of American culture, ate lots of fried chicken and loved being with the Stuthridges again.
Those days were not easy for South Africans. One evening, Henriette and I were sitting on a small beach near the ship in Barbados, watching the sun go down on the ocean. There was a daddy Rasta and his son, having their bath in the sea. Their dreads were down and they were using sea sand as shampoo. They came out of the ocean shaking their hair. It was a beautiful scene. We waved and they came over to talk to us. It was going really well until he asked where we were from. Suddenly we were being blamed for apartheid, racism and all the problems of South Africa. It got really ugly so we said goodbye and left.
When we arrived in Trinidad we were ship bound. No South Africans allowed. We had to get permission to stretch our legs on the quayside. A team went into Bolivia but again, no South Africans allowed.
We were feeling the effects of our injustice for the first time.
I cried many tears when we sailed out of Recife to start our journey across the Atlantic. I was going to miss the colourful, hot blooded, passionate Latin Americans.
I met people from all over the world and made many lifetime friends. There were times when I wondered which nation I would end up in. At that point, I was hoping it would be somewhere in South America.
My heart was wide open. I was prepared to go anywhere.