Saturday, December 06, 2014

me and my suitcase

 [click in the title for the full post]

 My suitcase, Bagamoyo, Tanzania

Today's Think Kit prompt:

Third Place

Work, home, and _____. Where was your third place this year? Did you like it, love it, ...or was it out of obligation? What feeling, sense, or vibe did you get from your third place? If someone can't imagine the scene, give the lay of the land in words. Is there natural light? Is there a certain smell? Bring us inside.

When I read this prompt I knew exactly what I was going to write about. This suitcase was without a doubt my Third Place. 

I was lucky enough be be traveling 66 days of this year. That's almost 20% by my fuzzy math skills. And I've been hanging out with the suitcase even more than that. Today's writing prompt also prompted some housekeeping. I took the suitcase to its storage spot in the basement for the first time since January. When I wasn't traveling it pretty much stayed on the dining room floor, getting shoved under the table if company was coming.  

The photo was taken after I was reunited with the luggage three days after I arrived in Tanzania. I thought I was a smart traveler by packing an extra pair of undies, pjs, and my toothbrush in my messenger bag that I carried on the plane. 

After two full days of travel I took a little bird bath in the lavatory of the airplane and changed into my extra undies and made the rash decision to throw the panties I was wearing in the trash. Blame sleep deprivation, but as I started to tuck the ones I'd worn for 36 hours back into my bag next to my camera, it just seemed weird. 

Boy did I come to regret that decision. It ultimately resulted in me wearing borrowed (from a kind and generous nun) clothes commando. 

I arrived in Tanzania, but my suitcase didn't. The whole process of entering the country at the Dar es Salaam airport is a little chaotic. You land and hand your passport and $100 in US dollars to someone collecting passports and money by the handful. You then wait for your name to be called and to be handed back your passport and Tanzania visitor's visa. 

For some reason mine was the last one to be processed (I blame the name Spitznogle) so I was in a bit of a panic at that point. By the time I got my visa and got the official stamp all of the other folks from my flight were gone. I went through the doors to find two empty conveyer  belts and no luggage. And no area marked "lost luggage," or anyone that looked like they worked there.

I finally found someone to help and handed him the information from checking my luggage in Indianapolis. He magically figured out that they were still in Zurich and wouldn't arrive until the next night. 

In the meantime my godmother, Sr. Janet, was worried that she missed me somehow so she went looking around the airport to make sure that I wasn't somewhere else. 

When I finally burst through the doors of the arrivals door I was ready to cry. When I didn't see her I was a little freaked out. It was a happy moment when we saw each other. Not having any luggage didn't seem like such a big deal anymore. 

The first night we stayed at Tanzania Episcopal Conference center, the first of the underground of religious communities that we stayed at. I was happy for the nightgown and toothbrush and happily fell asleep under the mosquito net while my rinsed out undies dried by the window. 

The second day we visited with and stayed at Sr. Jean's house. She loaned me an outfit made of traditional African cloth so I could wash my clothes in the shower and I hung them to dry in her beautiful yard. Her house is full of fabulous art and I felt like staying in a gallery. She she also loaned me a bathing suit so I could swim with them in the Indian Ocean. What an amazing experience that was - floating along with Jean and Janet.

I should have brought my clothes in from the line when we got home that evening, but I left them on the line. The overnight moisture seemed to have made them damper than when I hung them up. 

Jean was nice enough to loan me the pants and top again for travel. Unfortunately my panties and tank top were still too damp to wear. It felt a little weird to be walking through Dar es Salaam - the largest city in Tanzania - with no underwear. 

The bag was delivered to us in Bagamoyo (70 km from the airport) on my third day in the country. After touring Bagamoyo, a major port in the slave trade, the idea of luggage seemed a little frivolous, but dang it, I was thrilled to see it! 

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