Going through the straits of Gibraltar was our good bye to the peaceful North Atlantic. I had often been to Gibraltar when I was in the Royal Navy and this rock of ancient British supremacy stands guarding the entrance to the Middle Sea so famous in Bible times.
The book of the Acts of the Apostles gives a very vivid account of Saint Paul's voyage to Rome as a prisoner and his shipwreck in what is now Saint Paul's bay on the Island of Malta. Nowadays British sea power has been beaten into last place with the advent of aircraft, rockets and electronic warfare gadgets. Another reminder of the first becoming the last and the last becoming the first. The bigger and higher they come, the harder they eventually tumble and collapse.
There was so much shipping just everywhere we looked going in and out of this very busy main Motorway for ships. There was a buzz of excitement as Genoa was now only a couple of days away. Sailors who were almost all Italian were looking forward to their well earned leave with their families, before rejoining this ship again on the outward voyage West.
I had written a form letter to all our over 100 names and addresses from Brazil and the idea was to send it out from Italy as then the first real jump would have been completed. I had often thought that if one can hitch hike 20 miles from A to B, the only difference from A to B at 18000, kilometers is that the distance and the time taken is longer. The spiritual principle remains the same.
The next thing I remember was that we were stopped outside the harbor entrance to Genoa. The Pilot came on board and there were two busy little tugboats buzzing around. The Captain had allowed us to be on the Bridge as long as we kept well out of the way as the officers would dash from one side to the other gently nurturing this 12000 ton container vessel into its prepared berth. Actually the Captain has to allow the Harbor Pilot to take control and give the orders.
Now there was a very interesting little spiritual coincidence. Irmgard and I had been toying with the idea of Russia or the Huge Soviet Union as it was then as an alternative to India. We were not so serious about the idea but it was there in the back of both our minds. Seeing that Movie Dersu Usala had really made an impression. So here we were on the bridge and then the spiritual world clicked in and the Pilot kept saying the words India over and over again on the wireless com system to the tug boats. There was a stiff breeze blowing so the two little tugs had to either push or pull as tugboats do and believe it or not one of the boats was called India. God is so good and here He was shouting his guiding words into our ears and minds.
We started to say our good byes and thank yous to the Captain and the crew and specially to the cabin steward Paulo who had taken such good care of us.
We walked down the gang way with our two prepared shoulder bags and then a small crane unloaded our three trunks in giant a net bag. We put them together in a sheltered spot and went off into the port area to find the Port Director.
It was actually quite easy and we were escorted into his office as he sat behind an impressive desk. He spoke some English and we asked him if he would give permission for us to leave our three trunks in the left luggage area but for free. He obligingly agreed to giving us two free weeks which would have cost us a couple of hundred dollars. We found a large luggage cart and proudly proceeded to the left luggage presenting our very unusual permission slip to the man in charge. We had nothing valuable except the guitar which we would leave there too. We had to trust the Lord for that one and any way everything was under lock and key.
We had a lot to do before making our way hitch hiking to Nuremberg Germany to meet Irmgard's parents for the first time together.
First we went to the Linea C head offices which I had previously visited 3 years before to say thank you to Mr B. He was not there any more and had been transferred to the Linea C offices in the Bahamas. We found a director who seemed to know all about us and delivered our thanks.
Then we asked if they would like to do one more favor and Xerox 100 copies of our circular news letter. This they readily did for us. We had already carefully written out all the addresses on the envelopes and so we stuffed them and went to the large office next door to ask their boss if he would like to put these letters in their daily post. Of course we told him all about Jesus and our crazy faith and he not only agreed to take the letters but gave us a small donation in Italian Lira for the Pandita Ramabai tract.
Now it was important to look for possibilities for our next leg which would be anywhere in an easterly direction. We found a Russian company that had 2 freighters that would be calling in in about 2 weeks and they promised to let us travel on them. They were bound for Bombay which was the city of our destination and would cost 200 US$ each. Rather expensive but considering the circumstances suited just fine. This was almost too good to be true.
By now it was evening and so we set off to the entrance of the Motor way out of Genoa in the direction of Germany and stood there trying to thumb our first lift in Europe. Hitching in Brazil had been easy. What would it be like in Europe? Would the Lord do the same kind of miracles for us here in this new continent?