Letters from Sonja: The Big Surprise
Hubert reveals the big surprise.
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First published: November 18, 2005
On Saturday, October 1st, 1960 round about lunchtime I was in my kitchen watching the last spinning turns of my washing machine, when I again thought, if perhaps could still be Gerd coming. I turned round and looked out into our garden through the big kitchen window. And then in the middle of Africa all of a sudden my brother comes walking through the garden towards the house. I ran out of the house almost loosing my mind. Since then I am sure that telepathy exists.
It was a very, very happy reunion!
Hubert had brought Gerd with him from Kampala but stopped his car on the road and let Gerd get out of the car. Only later they told me, that Gerd had been in Wolfsburg for some time to get prepared for his job in Kampala and that he had already stayed in Nairobi for a while. I had absolutely no idea, what was going on.
On October 6th, l960, I wrote to my parents:
"That was really irresponsible to surprise me that much! Last Saturday suddenly Gerd came walking all by himself through the garden towards the house. Nobody can stand such a surprise. I could have been hit by a stroke!
At the moment Gerd is still staying with us. On Tuesday he is leaving for his first "safari" which will take him for about a week towards the northwest of Uganda to the Congo and Sudan boarder in order to repair the cars of some very remote customers. Maybe we will have found some suitable accommodation for him by the time he comes back. The space in our house is still very limited. We first have to build an extension to the house. Fortunately the kitchen and the dining room were ready when Gerd arrived. The first third of the house is now ready. We just in time got our new dining room furniture. We even have bought a new dinner set. Just a week before Gerd's arrival Hubert put up the bookshelves that turned out quite well. Only the curtains are still missing.
Regarding the view from our house, Gerd said: "Just like a luxury film set."
I think that Gerd likes it here. Hopefully Gerd will get acquainted with his work soon.
Regarding the English language, he will improve his knowledge quickly. That's one of the reasons why we would like him to live with some English people, so that he is forced to speak English. Gerd will be travelling a lot. On Tuesday for instance, he will already go to a very nice part of Uganda, which I have been wanting to see since I came to Africa, but I have never had the chance yet. While the children are still small we cannot do such big tours.
Gerd is on his first safari together with Mr. Geier, a young sales man and some Asian mechanics in their service van and a "Land rover". They will have a lot of work because customers from the Congo are also bringing their cars for repair, as there are no more workshops in the Congo at the moment. I envy Gerd very much for this chance. This time for instance they are passing through the big Murchison Falls National Park, which so far I unfortunately only know from pictures. I am anxious to hear how Gerd liked it.
I don't think that Gerd felt lost in Nairobi. During the day he had to work und during his time off I am sure that the other young Germans did take him with them. He was staying in a big hotel. Gerd did like Nairobi very much. Nairobi has changed a lot since we lived there and I am sure we will not recognize it anymore.
October 24th, l960 –
Gerd returned on Friday evening. He has seen and experienced a lot. At one point they had to wait 1 ½ hours while an elephant bull was standing in the middle of the road and absolutely did not want to move. I am sure Gerd will write you about all this himself.
This safari has been successful in so far, as Gerd is now eating fish and toasted bread!
November 8th, 1960 –
You don't have to worry about Gerd. Everything is well. Hubert is quite capable of taking care of Gerd. Gerd in the meantime already has a savings account. He is still staying with us and shares the room with Michy. He could move somewhere else, but for Gerd, of course, it is the cheapest solution and we don't mind. Besides, he is away most of the time.
Gerd has to get a driver's licence here. It is very important that he can drive well. Hubert drives with him every evening when Gerd is here. Gerd does not get a driving permit before he drives absolutely safe. (He had a German driving permit, but he had no practical experience yet.)
December 5th, 1960 –
I don't know how far Gerd's English is, but I am sure he can make himself understood. In this respect it is a disadvantage that he is staying with us. Michy speaks English now all the time so Gerd at least can learn something from him. I am sure he gets along well with his work. I have not heard of any complaints. He did like the food while on safari. In my house he gets Swabian food of course.
In their free time Hubert and Gerd play chess. Gerd's favourite hobby, of course, is filming. He is getting quite good at it already. On several Sundays, Gerd went with Ria and Hermann Meyer on the lake in a boat. He is also collecting plants for the garden.
To-morrow Gerd is leaving again for another safari, this time to Fort Portal, Kabale, Masaka and back. After that he will have seen a big part of Uganda already. I wish I could come with him.
December 19th, l960 –
Gerd is back again. He told me, that he is doing very well with English.
He has made 4 films and I am very anxious to see them. He will take his driving test after Christmas. Hubert thinks, he is driving well now. He already was driving on safari by himself.
From these letters you can see that my brother was very spoiled by my parents. At the same time it was very important for them to know that he was giving his best, while working in Uganda. He had finished an apprenticeship in Germany as an electric-motor-builder and was now a journeyman. Gerd was just 21 years old, when he arrived in East Africa.
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First published: November 18, 2005