Letters from Sonja:  Returning Home
Michy and Barbara in the swimming pool aboard the Africa.

Letters from Sonja: Returning Home


The Winklmaiers return home.

By Sonja Winklmaier
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First published: February 14, 2007


Click Here: Previously on "Letters from Sonja: Early 1963, After Independence"


August 20th, 1963

Lloyd Triestino

Lloyd Triestino
Now we are back home again. I had a good train ride with the children to Munich. The children were allowed to have a rest after lunch and in the evening we all went to Trieste by train. In Trieste we were met by a lady of Lloyd Triestino who took us to a hotel. The next day we cleared all our papers with Lloyd Triestino and did some sightseeing in Trieste. On the 3rd day we moved into our cabin on board the Africa. We stayed in Venice for two days and used this chance to look around Venice again. We did not go ashore in Brindisi. That was the end of Europe.

The crossing of the Mediterranean Sea was very quiet this time.

We missed the usual excitement in Port Said and also the Port Suez was very quiet. The boat was delayed since Venice and therefore arrived in these ports at an unfavourable time.

Then the air-conditioning broke down. It was beastly hot and the Red Sea for a change was rather rough this time. Sea-sickness was quite common on board. Michy nearly passed out, but with a lot of diversion he overcame it. While in the Read Sea we also received an SOS message from a lighthouse. This was quite exciting. They used a mirror in order to give the SOS signal. A number of tankers and freight carriers had stopped. We were the only passenger ship and therefore responded to the SOS call. Nobody knew what the matter was. They let down a rescue boat from our ship which then proceeded towards the lighthouse with some crew, a doctor and some medicine. Fortunately nobody was sick, but a few hours before, during a storm, some of their antennas, the blinking system and so on were destroyed. Our ship at once informed all other ships that the lighthouse is out of action and ordered replacements from Aden.

Port Said, and the entrance to the Suez Canal, viewed from the International Space Station
Port Said, and the entrance to the Suez Canal, viewed from the International Space Station

We met an old acquaintance of us from Nairobi on the boat- Miss Kränzlin. Miss Kränzlin originally comes from Tanganyika. Her parents had a coffee plantation in Iringa. Miss Kraenzlin was 19 years old when she had to leave Tanganyika. The farm including all the furniture, cars etc... was confiscated by the English and given to English farmers for a piece of bread and butter. Miss Kränzlin has visited the farm some time ago and says, as terrible as it was to see strange people in her former home, she was glad to see that the farm is well kept und not - as so many other former German farms - totally neglected.

In Mombasa to round off our vacation we had a very nice day. We arrived on August 13th around 9 pm. We could leave the boat without luggage to stretch our legs. The immigration formalities could only be dealt with the next morning. Cooper Motors sent a VW van to bring our luggage to the train. We then got a more comfortable vehicle, a big Holden (Australian Opel). In that car we drove to the beach, exactly to the place were I spent my first days in East Africa. We had lunch there and the children amused themselves in the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately we did not have swimming suits with us. I just took off all the children's clothes and we, the two women, fixed our skirts as high as possible so that we could at least walk in the water so that we could enjoy the water too. It was a wonderful day. Around 6 pm our train departed. We arrived in Kampala on Friday, 16th August at 9 am. Gerd, as well as Bob Roberts and his wife, met us at the train station.

Hubert was urgently awaited for in the office and Gerd said, we should first go to the office. But we only took Gerd back to the office and then had some coffee at Bob's house, after which we went home. When we took the turn to the road to Buziga, Barbara started laughing so much that I thought she could not stop anymore.

In the afternoon Hubert went to the office. The problem was that Mr. Thomas, who was representing Hubert during his absence, made some grave mistakes and as a result all the mechanics wanted to go on strike. Hubert solved the problem very quick and the danger of a strike was over. Also some of the customers complained about Mr. Thomas. Everybody was badly waiting for Hubert's return.

Hubert never had a strike during his time, even when all other car companies went on strike. His people were very loyal to him as he was always fair.

On Friday and Saturday Gerd collected all his belongings from us and is now staying with Mr. Mittelsdorf of the German Embassy until he is going on home-leave. I think he is departing from Mombasa on September 5th. He is leaving on our" Africa. She will be on the way back from South Africa then. He will be arriving in Trieste on September 18th. I think Gerd will stay in Germany until after Christmas. In October he will be in Wolfsburg at the VW factory for 3 weeks. Gerd will be flying back to Africa. He does not know 100 % yet whether he will be going to Nairobi or somewhere else. Most likely it will be Nairobi. He would like to go there.

On our return the house was highly polished. John really did a very good job while we were away. It was a pleasure to come back to such a house.

Nyende, too, has been working hard in the garden during our absence. But there was no rain so that everything was rather dry. Since we are back we had some rain again.

The Hitchens are still in England. Mr. Hitchens got very ill. They won't be back before October. In the house were Gerd used to live apparently an Asian family lives now. I have not met them yet. They are the first non-Europeans living on the hill. The Browns are living in their house next to us again. Mr. Brown will not be at his job as a director of East African Railways and Harbours for very much longer according to an article in the newspaper. Apparently a bachelor is living in the Hunter's house. Apart from the Hitchen's house two houses on the hill are now vacant and the Unsworth family returns to England for good in 3 weeks. It is very quiet on the hill at the moment. I have not seen anybody yet.

The postcard I sent home from Mombasa prior to embarcation
The postcard I sent home from Mombasa prior to embarcation.

Click here to continue to "The New Immigration Bill"

By Sonja Winklmaier
more from author >>
First published: February 14, 2007
Sonja Winklmaier moved to Uganda in the 1950s to follow her husband, Hubert Winklmaier, as the German Volkswagen Factory sent him to work with their agent, Cooper Motor Corporation.

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