Tag Archives: travel

Post 187. I’m back- I think

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I have been putting this moment off for three years.  Just in the past five minutes I have deleted this sentence at least six times.  Questioning and doubting.  I am also very aware of what’s coming if I start this again.

I need to get into my photo albums, diaries and scrappy script to add details of the past seventeen years to it (2000-2017).

I am going to need to be disciplined and creative and my memory is going to have to be shaken to it’s core.

Many of the events of the past seventeen years in Delhi have been painful.   I’m not sure I want to re-visit them or put them down for others to read but I will aim to do this slowly and with wisdom. These years have also been among our happiest.  It’s been quite a roller coaster ride.

So, my last and final excuse is that when it comes to writing,  I am lazy and need some major motivation.  I have recently had some lovely comments about my blog being inspiring and helpful, so I will start again.

Tony and I are leaving Delhi soon to start another community from scratch; for the first time without our kids.

Asha, Zoe and Jordan were 12, 11 and 5 when you last read about them.  It was the year 2000 and we had just moved to Delhi.  They are grown ups now. They are all married and we have two grandchildren.   It has been our greatest happiness to have them all within walking distance of our house in Delhi. I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

We are moving to Nagaland (Far North East India). The internet there can be quite unreliable and I’m not sure how often I will be able to post my posts.  Probably not every day. It may be erratic- so to you ladies who sat down with your cup of coffee and my blog every morning- you may be disappointed 🙂

I am learning (and I’m a slow learner) that if anything needs to be done, I need to do it, otherwise it won’t get done.  Profound, I know.

Thank you for following my story.  I hope I can keep it addictive and interesting and inspiring.  I love knowing who is reading and what you are thinking, so please let this be a two way thing ok?  I need all the encouragement and inspiration I can get 🙂IMG_0292

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Post 44. An Island Too Small

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Me at 16

Me at 17

Tony at 18

Tony at 18

Tony was passionate about many things.

The beach was just 500 metres from the Johnson’s house and he started surfing from a young age.  Doug was a lifesaver and made sure his boys were strong swimmers. In winter, he skied the highest slopes in New Zealand and did stunts that few dared to do.  His dream was to ski in the Winter Olympics.   Rugby was big for Tony and Ben.  They played for their school as well as for the local rugby club.  Doug had his own import tea company and wanted Tony to work with him.  That worked for a while but as soon as he learnt the ropes, Tony started his own tea business.  Wheeling and dealing was part of his life wherever he went.

His first trip off the little island of 3 million people was to the States, Canada and Mexico.  He was 20.  When he got there he bought cheap cars, used them, sold them and moved on.  One night, driving along the Mexican coast, he was stoned and lost.  He ended up on a dusty, dark road in the middle of nowhere.  He fell asleep and woke up to the sound of a hovering helicopter, spotlights shining in his face and a loud hailer telling him to get out of the car with his hands in the air.  He was searched for drugs and Mexicans.  Strangely enough he didn’t have either on him at the time.  He played the dumb foreigner and was pointed in the right direction.

He worked in restaurants and spent his free time skiing and surfing.  The American drug scene pulled him in and his use of hard drugs increased. He was becoming more dependent.

When he got back to New Zealand he got into farming.  He became the proud owner of his own little marijuana plantation in Piha, on the West Coast.   It was in a creative hippy commune he was living in that he heard stories of India.  One of the couples had travelled all over Asia and had written a book about it.  He started getting his dollars together to travel again.

This time he set off  with his surfboard to India via Indonesia and South East Asia.  He travelled around from beach to beach in search of the perfect break.  Getting from one island to the other was a challenge.  One of the ferries was packed to capacity, with people everywhere.  It smelled of urine and vomit.  The only place he could get any sleep was up on the deck, on his board.

By the time he arrived in India, Tony was already on a heavy drug diet and he knew he had just landed in drug “paradise.”

Post 32. The Amazon

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Belem is between the Toucan and the monkey.

Belem is between the Toucan and the monkey.

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

Post 28. Moo Hills

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I had itchy feet.  Rigby and Sue had left for Bible College and I needed to get out.  Youth for Christ was running a year programme called Y-1 so I decided to sign up.

I travelled with Rig and Sue to Half Way House,  to a cute little farm called Moo Hills.  That was to be my home for three months.   There were 30 young people full of life and energy, ready to take on the world.  I would be away from my home for a year.  It sounded like a life time.

Our dorms were converted cow sheds and it was very earthy.  Each room had 6 bunk beds so we lived in each other’s pockets and all kinds of lessons were learnt.  It was there that I learnt how to hand wash and iron my clothes. I really missed Val.

We dreaded the 6 am morning trumpet call.  It was loud and right outside our dorm.  I had sung many songs about an angel with a trumpet and people disappearing.  I was always relieved to see that it was just Johnny.

It was my first experience living with people who weren’t “white South Africans.”   Alistair Lowe from Rhodesia was no relation but he was a brother to me. On our weekend off he came to stay with us at No 28.   It was a first for my family too.  He was hilarious.

We had rules at Moo Hills.  Lobo the dog was not to be fed, lights out at 9, only one slice of bread after meals, no relationships between the sexes allowed and absolutely NO physical contact.  All those rules were broken,  but not much went unnoticed by Charlie and Wendy Paine and Sean Daly.

Lobo got fatter and fatter and so did we.  We talked way into the night.  One night we had a brilliant idea.  We lay on our bunks with our feet up against the wall.  On the count of three we stomped as hard as we could.  The girls in the dorm next door thought it was an earthquake and ran out onto the field in their pyjamas. It was freezing.

The girls joked that if ever we wanted some physical contact, we could go to Sean for a haircut.  Only if we were guilt free.  Once he got us under the scissors he would ask how we were doing.  We were convinced he could see right though us.  We didn’t have haircuts that often.  We heard that Alistair, when under the scissors and the stare, couldn’t take the guilt anymore and bellowed out, “Ok, ok, I fed Hobo!”

At the end of our three months of discipleship training, we were put into teams.   The music team needed a sound mixer so I auditioned.   Thanks to Wilf I had a pretty good ear and I got the “job.”

It was an intense three months of early mornings, excercise, study, kitchen duty, learning how to live and so much about loving God and others.

We packed our bags and jumped into minivans for our 9 months of road travel.  What we had learnt at Moo Hills was going to be tested.  We were going to find out if what we had learnt was going to work.  Or not.

Post 13. Dancing Queen

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Brenda and I on the Riverboat Shuffle

Brenda and I on the Riverboat Shuffle

When I was 11,  I had some really good friends.  Our girl “gang” consisted of four shorties and two tall-ies. Brenda Blench, Bridget Bauristhene, Deidre McGregor and I were the shorties.  Colleen Sutton and Karin Garcin were the tall-ies. There were other friends, but we were tight. We fought each other and then fought for each other.  We all met in Class 1 at Woodlands Infants School.

Holidays were spent by the pool and in the sun.  We would cover ourselves with cooking oil and when we felt we weren’t brown enough, someone suggested that we lie on tin foil.   Someone (maybe it was that same someone) had the brilliant idea of cutting band-aids into the initials of our boyfriend/girlfriend. After a long day in the sun, the plaster would come off and there were the very white initials of the one we loved.  By the next weekend, if we didn’t love them anymore, we would just tan over it.

This was when David Attrill asked me to go out with him.  We “went out” for two and a half years.  He was cute, mischievous and full of energy.  I remember him coming down the hill on his bike to Brenda’s house one day after school, flapping his arms like a chicken and singing “Oh Mammy, Oh Mammy, Mammy Blue, oh Mammy Blue.”

Wilf organised “River Boat Shuffles” on the Durban harbour.  Two ferries were filled with jazz fans and a jazz band was set up on each one. We danced for hours and then met in the middle for a “Battle of the Bands”.  That was the first time I saw Wilf slightly tipsy.  He was in his element.

Parties were mainly for dancing, practising our kissing and having fun.  Brenda Blench and I were the “dancing queens”.  We created dances and then introduced them at the next party.  We would walk in a big group of girls and boys from Woodlands to Montclair, Yellowwood Park and wherever else there was a party.  Dave and I had issues and it really came to a head at the party held at the Murray’s house in Nagle Square.  He got fed up with me going out with his friends and I got fed up with him flirting with mine.  He started pushing me around and got me in a grip I couldn’t get out of.  I head butted him and gave him a bloody nose and that was the end of that.  The fight I mean. We still stole each other’s friends.

Brenda was my best friend. She was a red-head and short like me. Her parents were heavy drinkers and loved the horses.  Brenda told me her mom had lost 7 babies. Six of them were boys.  Something about her mother’s blood and boys.  Her sister Rosemary was much older and lived far away.  Every now and again she would come and rescue Brenda from the roughness of her life.  We spent a lot of time at her house because it was always flowing with soft drinks and nice food.  After a bad drinking bout,  her dad would shout “Brenda!” and she would go in and clean him up.  My heart hurt for her but she was so brave.  She had an uncle called Uncle Bill who lived with them.  He was sweet but had very bad eating habits.  One day Brenda and I were kicking each other under the table and giggling at the way he was messing and gobbling his food.  When we looked under the table, we realised that we had both been kicking Uncle Bill.  During the holidays we would listen to music and dance any time of the day.  Her mom taught us various card games in case we ever wanted to make more money than our careers would bring in.  I also learnt a lot about the horses.   It was during those days that I made a decision that alcohol was never going to be a part of my life. It cured me forever.

Post 12. Books and Jazz

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Val - dad's favourite model. Wilf Lowe - Tru- Life Studios

Val – Dad’s favourite model.
Wilf Lowe.  Tru- Life Studios

There was always something to do at home.  I would spend hours sitting on the fluffy carpet in front of the bookcase in the passage.  Books were to be treated like people; gently and with respect.  We weren’t allowed to touch the ones on the top shelf but there were two shelves just for us.  Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter took up a lot of the space.  Then there were the Bobbsy Twins and all the Annuals of our favourite magazines; Lucy Attrill, Topper, Beano, Dandy, Thunderbirds and of course Black Beauty, Rupert and Paddington were all there.   I read them all numerous times.   There was a picture book about a little boy on the Amazon River that I read over and over again.  I was fascinated and dreamt of going there one day.  Reading was my favourite thing to do.  Val would catch me reading under the blankets late into the night.  The torch told on me.

The passage was also for practising gymnastics. It was perfect for headstands against the wall, backbends, splits and forward walks; just too small for cartwheels.   I loved that passage and hated it too.  Dave loved to hide and jump out at me from the rooms.  I was a nervous wreck.

There was one bathroom with a tub and washbasin and a separate room for the toilet.  It was tiny.  We all tried to get in there before dad and his newspaper did.  They were immovable until the paper was finished.

The bookshelf on the back veranda was piled high with, “World of Knowledge” and “Look and Learn” magazines.  They would arrive in the post every month and there was a fight to see who could read them first.

When we got too old for family concerts, dad would play dictionary scramble with us.  We each had our own Little Oxford Dictionary. He would say a word and we raced to see who could find it first.  I loved words and spelling was my forte. My favourite word was the longest one in the dictionary and we learnt how to spell and say it: floccinaucinihilipilification.  I loved that it meant “meaninglessness”.

Then there was our wooden “Flick” board.  It was square and there was a pocket on each corner.  We each got a red “goon” and we had to flick the black and beige discs into the pockets.  There were a few rules and they were usually broken; especially the one about having to stay in your seat.  We got at those discs in whatever position we could.

Getting ready for an evening at home.

Getting ready for an evening at home.

When we were bored we would open the fridge door and stare into it and if dad wasn’t around we drank out of the milk bottle.  Val hid the tins of condensed milk on the top shelf of the highest cupboard.  She should have known that nothing was hidden from us.  We got the tiniest nail from dad’s workshop and banged the tiniest hole into the side of the lid.  Whenever she wasn’t around, we each took the tiniest sip and put it back on the shelf.

At night we would go to sleep listening to the Jazz greats crooning away. Big Bands were our lullabies.  Dad’s jazz collection covered one of the walls in the lounge and that was his favourite place in the evenings.  We would sit and listen to the drama about Porgy and Bess or anything else dad thought might interest us.

TV was banned from our house until we all grew up and left home.  Family concerts, dress ups, singing, dancing were much more fun than sitting around watching other people doing it.

Post 11. Fatty Allan

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One of our favourite comic characters.

One of our favourite comic characters.

The Schwegmann family consisted of 7 children; 5 girls and 2 boys.  They were the Pentecostal family in the circle. They were the ones who kept us all feeling guilty for any bad thing we thought or did.  Movies, parties, jeans, make-up, jewellery and anything else the Lowe’s loved, was “sinful”, but they did join in our escapades when it was convenient.  Their mother, Dawn, ruled the house and kept everyone on track. Gary Snr was a South African boxer and a non-church-goer.  He was like one of the kids.  Dawn preached to him from the moment his eyes opened to the time he went to sleep.  He just wasn’t interested.  He was a lot like us and we liked him.

Gary Jnr was the first boy I kissed and “spin the bottle” was the game that made it happen.  A bottle was put in the middle of the circle of boys and girls.  Someone spun it and if it pointed to you and you were of the opposite sex, you had to go into the cupboard and kiss them.  Most kids flew out of the cupboard wiping their mouths in horror and disgust.  Others were quite happy to keep kissing even when the game had stopped.

There were many sleepovers at their house.  I loved their big bedroom with 5 beds lined up next to each other, one for each girl, from oldest to youngest.

The Allan family lived near the entrance to the circle.  There was Old Mr and Mrs Allan, Gregory Allan, his sister and his mom, who we called “Fatty Allan”.  We felt the reasons were obvious.  One afternoon, Gregory came huffing across the park with an envelope in his hand.  5 minutes later, Val was marching across the park to his house.  Fatty Allan was fuming mad and inconsolable.  Someone had cut up a Little Lotta Comic and written some pretty ugly stuff about her and Fatty Allan being related.  We were all called in and interrogated and Val was convinced that her kids had NOTHING to do with such an awful incident. Every child in the circle was blamed and every one of us was innocent.  Susan Lowe and Glenda Schwegmann owned up months later when they thought it was too late to get disciplined for it.  They were wrong.  Val and Dawn made sure they felt very sorry.

We got to the Schwegmann kids and then they got to us. It took years of preaching and telling us how sinful we were, but when we finally came round, the Lowe family was changed forever.