Lost in Transit: Departing

Tunisia – December 2009

My first evening in Tunisia finds us in Sfax, Tunisia’s second largest city. Nearby our hotel is a market where I’m able to pick up some toiletries, underthings, and a few shirts. So now I’m living out of a day pack and two plastic bags. We return to Tunis on Christmas day and I make a run to the airport to retrieve my lost bag. I’m told there is a large room full of unclaimed bags I will get to sort through. I have visions of the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark of the Covenant is being placed into storage. The reality is not quite so expansive. The bags are sorted by airline, though mine is not among the lost bags of Air France. Out of the corner of my eye I catch the back of my bag and we are finally reunited.

I am joined by someone else from our tour who had also lost her luggage, but her bag is nowhere to be found. I’m anxious to return to our hotel as I have a beautiful Chinese woman waiting, who is probably wondering why I’m not joining her for dinner as by then I was sharing all of my meals with her, but it’s Christmas and the only airline official to be found doesn’t speak English. My high school French is strained, though we do eventually learn that her bag has not been found and she’s given instructions on how to claim for the loss.

The day of my returning flights starts off well. That evening I said goodbye to my future wife and we exchange contact information. My flight from Tunis to Paris departs and arrives on time. I make it through security in Paris and find my gate. Thanks to recent events, security is high and at the gate shoes and jackets are removed, passengers are frisked front and back, and large carry-ons are checked and smaller carry-ons are thoroughly searched. Subsequently, we arrive in Atlanta late and I find I’ve just missed my connecting flight. So it’s another day living out of my day pack. I contact the airline to see if they can put me up for the night but as the delay was not their fault, they can only offer me a new flight the following day. As for accommodation, I’m on my own. I head for the hotel shuttles and find one to what I know is a reasonably priced hotel. Fortunately, the receptionist takes pity on me and puts together a toiletry assortment.

In the morning I’m expecting a direct flight from Atlanta to Ontario but instead find I am flying to Denver, then Salt Lake City, and finally Ontario. In Denver I get shaky and realize all I’ve had to eat the prior twelve hours was orange juice for dinner and a large coffee for breakfast, so I find myself a cafe and resist the temptation to order a Denver omelet. The remaining flights are uneventful.

When I finally do make it to Ontario, my bag is not among those on the baggage carousel. When I head to lost luggage, I see it sitting in the back of the room—it had made the connecting flight from Atlanta without me. In all I’ve lost nearly two days during this trip due to cancelations and delays, which I intend to make up in bed. I do send out a quick email before retiring, letting my future wife know why I had seemingly disappeared for two days. This wouldn’t be the last time I’d disappear, and she’d worry.

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