One afternoon I was gathering in the washing when I saw a light blue VW beetle coming slowly up the track. The driver was staring at our cottage. I stared back, unused to any form of passing traffic, suddenly embarrassed about my sloppy appearance. As the car drew closer and slowed down, I realised the driver was none other than Mike Blacow, a very dear school friend of Michael’s and best man at our wedding.

Apparently Mike had written telling us he was coming out to Johannesburg to do a year or two at Coronation hospital. Now a qualified doctor, he had completed his internship and was looking for some different experiences. We never received that letter, so there was nobody to meet him at the airport, and he had to become a super-sleuth to find out where were staying.

We welcomed him in to camp down with us. But this precipitated the need to move into larger and less primitive accommodation. After much searching, we found a three-bedroomed house to rent close to civilisation and not far from the Coronation hospital. It even had a phone!

I was able to walk to shops, and although nobody in that area seemed to speak English, a smile went a long way, and there’s nothing more warming than the whiteness of an African’s teeth as they return your smile. Especially as they looked from the two year old, to the one year old, to my growing belly…

There was also a small children’s park within walking distance, so the girls and I made a daily trip to the swings. As spring warmed towards summer, we were able to bump our way along the side of the road to a public swimming pool. There was no pavement, so the rough terrain took its toll on the twin buggy, especially as, hanging on to the handles was all the paraphernalia necessary for swimming with two toddlers.

My parents had booked to visit us for Christmas and at the beginning of December I had this overwhelming urge to stock up the freezer. For several days I baked pizzas and pies, cakes and biscuits until I was exhausted. Just a pregnancy thing!

We had planned to go away to a game reserve with Mike for the long weekend around December the sixteenth. We were aiming for a four a.m. start, in the hope that the children would sleep for the first couple of hours. The evening before, while I bundled two excited little people into their beds, Michael and Mike took our dog to some friends who had agreed to look after him for the weekend.

Off they went, in high spirits. Two hours passed and I started to get annoyed. Three hours passed and I pictured them on their second beer, and I realised we would not be leaving at four o’ clock.  After five hours, I had gone past being angry to becoming seriously worried. I could not phone the friends who were looking after the dog because they lived out in the bush with no phone. All I could do was wait…



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