Part 3: Love in Africa (1949-1963)
At the age of 19 Ala had a steady job in a bakery and was meeting loads of new people. One of them was Lolly. Lolly was a young man starting a new venture with a friend who came into the shop many times to enjoy a meal together. He also had a tough upbringing. His school years were not easy and many times his father pulled him and his 4 siblings from school to help with farm chores, just so they could make ends meet. It built Lolly’s character and that is why it wasn’t difficult for Ala to take notice of him.
As a first date, Lolly invited Ala on a rabbit hunt with him and his friend, Smithy, much to Ala’s chagrin. Not the most romantic of dates, and Ala wasn’t an avid huntress, but luckily not a lot of hunting took place.
Instead they had loads of fun while passing husks of rabbits. All the while Lolly kept on hinting that Ala should ride with him in the front seat, but to no avail. At the end of the night the very unexpected goodnight kiss came from Smithy and not Lolly. Even though Ala was not really interested in boys, she was surprised… and a little disappointed.
Luckily Lolly didn’t let up and invited Ala to dance at a nearby hotel shortly after their hunting excursion. Ala however already had another date and promised him a dance. Ala’s toes took the beating of a lifetime – Lolly’s dancing left much to be desired. Her date ended up drinking at a bar and Lolly kept her company for the rest of the night. This was to be the start of a very long association.
Lolly had a taxi business and very soon he would need a reservationist.
He approached Ala but she had a steady job at the bakery with a lot of perks, and was apprehensive to leave. Lolly’s plan was to buy the Windsor Hotel to make it impossible for Ala to say no. He worked hard to get the loans approved and asked his mother (a master caterer and novice hotelier) to help him run it. And so, their journey in the hospitality industry started.
At one point the hotel had a bit of financial difficulty and Ala was tasked to sort it out. No small fete, and later on they decided to sell it rather than lose it. Together they started a tourism business together after recognising the gap in the market. 2 Taxis and a launch for the Zambesi river cruises.
Business was going well and with a lot of convincing, Lolly finally convinced Ala it was a good time to get engaged.
Exciting and fun times lay ahead and Ala got invited on her first Safari to Luangwa Valley. Pitching tents on the banks of the river surrounded by untouched nature and animal sounds, the experience was riveting. The Luangwa Valley was a wake-up call to the magic and wildness of Africa with its technicolor sunsets, beautiful creatures and seclusion. For the first time Ala realised that she was in love – in love with Africa, and of course Lolly.
To be continued…