My fiancé, Tony, who I had never been with, arrived in South Africa in December 1985. We had been pen pals for a year and a half. Cathie Beattie came to our house early that morning. She was almost as excited as I was.
I filled up the bath and was happily soaking in my bubbles when she knocked at the door informing me that the plane had landed. We weren’t far from the airport, but I was still pushing it. I had been day dreaming; imagining what I was going to do when I saw Tony. We were engaged, but we had never been together. I pictured myself putting my hand out and saying to my fiancé, “Welcome to South Africa.” Just thinking about the whole thing got my tummy going and by the time I left the house, I had the runs.
I was so nervous. Rig drove me to the airport and Cath sat on the backseat smiling from ear to ear, trying to calm me down. As soon as we arrived, I bought some gum and then ran off to the loo. Rig and Cath waited in the car outside. When I came out I saw Tony looking around for me. He looked so handsome. I crept around behind him, put my arms around his waist and said “Welcome to South Africa.” He turned around, we looked into each other’s faces, smiled and hugged and kissed. It was as if we had always been together.
We walked out to the car where Rig and Cathie were waiting. I introduced them all and off we drove, chatting about his trip. We found out why he arrived wearing such a heavy sweater. He had been travelling for days and wasn’t able to wash anywhere. He was wearing it to hide any B.O he may have had.
I had found a small garden cottage for him, just up the road from the Wallace’s place. It was tiny and perfect. I filled up the little fridge with food and he was so happy.
My friends loved him. He found Waverley quite unusual. The first Sunday he was there, Marie Dunn linked arms with him and swung him around during the one of the songs. That was a first. Strangers kissed him on the mouth in typical South African style. That was another first.
In a few weeks we had our official engagement party at the Wallaces place. Everyone knew we were heading off to India so we didn’t get a lot of gifts and there was still no ring.
After a month of being in Johannesburg we took our first train trip together. Tony was going to meet Wilf and Val and the rest of the Lowe family in Durban.
A friend of ours offered to give us a lift to the station but didn’t tell us he didn’t know how to get there. We got hopelessly lost and missed the train. We rushed into the Station Master’s office. There was a group of tourists who had missed their connection and there was a bus taking them to meet the train at the next station.
We got on the bus then boarded the train, huffing and puffing. There was an excitement about the edginess of the whole thing and we loved that our lives together had started that way.