The warmest welcome

Only ever been to South Africa once back in 1986, there was a state of emergency on at the time and no one was going, Mandela was still in jail and the whites were doing the best to cling to power against the rest of the worlds wishes. I ended up there because the Aus dollar was in such a bad state that it was about the only country left you felt welcome to spent it. My mate Johnny and I flew into Jo burg and we really knew not much about this country, except we wanted to surf Jefferies Bay, and that Cave Rock was near Durban and the best was way to get from the airport to Durban we were told was by train and there was one leaving in an hour, shit so we high tailed it to the station. The train station  was very old worldly and they still had steam trains there which was pretty cool.and proper fine dining carriages. We brought tickets that include  a sleeping carriage and then we were told we had to put our surfboards on the luggage car. So we walked up to this room with a big set of scales and porters shifting through baggage to put onto designated trains. We were booking our boards on when  I heard someone behind me call out,’ surfers lacker bro’, I turned around the there was a mob of young guys around my age in there early 20s and a couple of older guys. They came over and were asking us questions where we were from, where we were going and it was all animated and they were excited to be talking to us. A few of them were surfers and we said we were off to Durban and then travel around, then one guy piped up and said’ fuck Durban bro get to Jbay bro, don’t blow it hanging around in durbs the waves are shit compared to J bay’. All the others are chiming in with their comments and I am just overwhelmed by all the yelling and excitement and chatter and laughing and teasing. Then we hear a whistle blowing and they all tell me they gotta go and have a great holiday and tell everyone back home SA aint such a bad place. I shook there hands and they were gone, down to the platform to there train. One guy stayed behind and just really wanted to set me straight on where to surf, he had just spent a month at Jefferies Bay and it was pumping, he told me. I asked where they were all headed and said for military duty have to do 1 month a year, and they hated having to go, he said they were going to the North up near Botswana, fight with the rebels crossing the border. Then one of the older guys ran in and said come on we got to go the train is leaving and he turned to him and said ‘ fuck you I am talking surf”, I was pretty taken back by that and the older guy just stepped out of the room. He told me the guy was a dickhead and his captain for the next month, we talked for a couple more minutes, and then he said he had to leave, with the parting words, get to J bay don’t blow it. We finished checking in our boards and made our way to the busy platform, just then a train was pulling out and all the young guys we had just met were hanging out the windows and when the saw us they all started chanting, and banging on the side of the train, Jbay, Jbay dont blow it, everyone on the platform was looking at us standing there smiling, waving and laughing, everyone else was thinking what the hell does that mean. Best welcome I ever had to a country and the start of a wonderful adventure.

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