March 10, 2009

The first-day curse

4 April, 2006
We land in Hanoi on the first day of our month-long journey from the top to the bottom of Vietnam. Our hotel has arranged an airport transfer, and, on arriving, we realise this is not the hotel we booked at all. "Sorry, the hotel overbooked so you are now staying here," we were told. Taking Lonely Planet's advice a little too close to heart, we were convinced this was part of a scam (we found out it wasn't) and ended up spending a good hour negotiating our way through the smelly, chaotic streets (meat market included), looking for a new place to stay.

8 September, 2008
We set off on our three-month van tour of Europe. The van is packed, we've stocked up on baked beans and we're raring to go. One hour after driving off the ferry in France, we find ourselves veering off a country road and into a ditch. We then spend five horrific days living in a mechanic's carpark, and pay 950 euros in repairs for the privilege.

8 March, 2009
We land in Cairo, Egypt on the first day of our six-month 'trip of a lifetime'. We wait at the airport carousel for our backpacks to make an appearance. One by one, our fellow passengers pick up their bags and leave. Eventually, the baggage handlers stick their heads through the rubber flaps to inform us that there are no more bags. Yep, trust us to have to go through one of every traveller's worst fears. Air Alitalia, who we flew with, are of little help, and we are sent on our way with no explanation or indication of where on earth our backpacks have ended up. We spend a sleepless night freaking out. Where the f*** are our bags?! We go through a range of emotions: Helplessness (what are we going to do?), anger (this is f***ed!), defeat (that's it, I'm over this. Let's just call it quits and go home) and hope (we can get through this).

The next morning, we go down to breakfast to discover Craig's yellow and black Black Wolf pack sitting there next to the reception desk. While there is still no sign of mine, at least we now have clothes we can share between us, a sleeping bag for our upcoming two-night felucca trip and toiletries like sunscreen and insect repellent. After a day at the pyramids, my bag still has not been found. We board our 13-hour overnight train to Aswan without it. Our trip seems doomed.
I'm stuck in an awful cargo and white-top combo (my 'flying' outfit) and the thought of making an insurance claim for an entire bag of stuff seems hopeless, as does rebuilding an entire travel wardrobe plus all my gear.

After yet another sleepless night (this time due to the drunk Aussie yobbos on our train rather than bag worry) we arrive in Aswan. Our first point of call is to check the Air Alitalia baggage tracker on the net to find out if there have been any developments. It says my bag has been delivered. I quickly call our tour operator in Cairo to find out that, yes, my bag has been found and it will be put on the train for me tonight to arrive tomorrow morning.

When it gets here (which it bloody well better!), I'm gonna give it a big kiss, change my clothes, brush my hair, pluck my eyebrows, and then make sure that from now on, I have a change of clothes in both my carry-on luggage and Craig's bag. And, of course, I will never fly with Air Alitalia again.

Note to curse: Bad things come in threes, you've filled your quota. So bugger off and just let us enjoy our trip!