As I wrote about these wonderful places I’ve visited in a romanticized light– if the country wasn’t the best the people still turned out to be amazing individuals– I had gotten so caught up in the prose that I had completely forgotten a few key crazy adventures we’d had to endure in the meantime.
First of all, there was our baggage disappearance. As we left Niger, we went through Ethiopia to Egypt. Supposedly, our precious baggage was supposed to have been transferred from one plane to the next and arrive at the same time and place as us. Yet, after many hours of flying, we landed in the Cairo airport only to wait at the conveyor belt in the dark hours of morning for bags that never arrived.
We were reassured by Ethiopian Airlines that we could expect our bags to arrive the next day. However, that day passed and we still didn’t have our bags. We’d sweated in the Egyptian desert wearing two-day-old clothes, and still carried close to no other possessions. In a way the experience was almost freeing, if only I could’ve been reassured that eventually we would get our bags back. But we were in the middle of this drama, so we were just weighted down by the dread of never seeing our bags again.
The next day, they still didn’t arrive. My dad ended up getting a cab at 2:00AM to go to the airport and catch the Ethiopian Airlines reps as the flight came in. He did bring something back– his own bag. Yep, only his luggage had come over after forty-eight hours, and the next day we were due to leave for Greece. By this time it had seemed a bleak situation, one in which my mom and I would never see our bags again (if it was just clothes that were lost it would be fine, but I had one of my journals from many past trips in my bag, along with many stories I’d written).
We left the next day (it literally took us three cabs to get to the airport; but that’s another story) for Greece, mostly resigned to our fates. When we arrived in Athens, we had to find the closest department/convenience store where we could get essentials. We bought clean clothes and toiletries, and spent the rest of our stay there enjoying ourselves. But throughout our stay, we were yet to find our luggage.
When we left Greece, we had to stop in Egypt before flying back to Ethiopia. When we got into the Cairo airport, my dad insisted he be allowed to look into the storage rooms where lost bags were left. At first he was told that none of our bags could be found in their computer system. But he persevered, and thank goodness he did, because when he came back to meet with my mom and I he had her luggage in his hands. There was only one to go.
The climatic moment happened when we returned to Ethiopia. I was still wearing my short-sleeved rompers that we’d salvaged from Greece, but now instead of being a relieving cool garment, the surface of my skin sprung up into goosebumps in the cold weather of Ethiopia. We waited for about an hour before we were able to talk to the man in charge of baggage. When we finally were able to, we gave him the luggage number, he looked into his computer, and said, “It says here that your baggage had an email address written on it: email@example.com. Is this your email?” We had found my bag! He got it out of storage and, after a week, I finally had my possessions with me once more. It had certainly been a crazy ride.