Monday, September 3, 2012

The Great Baggage Extravaganza

Have patience with all things. But, first of all with yourself.
-Saint Francis de Sales

As most of you already know, on our trip to Egypt our luggage got lost.  Yes I said lost, not delayed, not temporarily missing but lost!! For the first three days of our trip we didn't not know where our luggage even was. It was last scanned leaving Atlanta and went MIA after that. Finally on day four we found out it was in fact in Cairo in the Air France office. Seems like that would be a relief right?!? Wrong! Even after we found out where the bags were we still were unable to contact them. After 2 days of constantly calling Air France they finally picked up the phone. Finally on the evening of day 7 our luggage was officially in our hands again!

Now that y'all have a general idea of the timeline we were working with I'll share some of our stories. First thing, bless the reception committees (RC) hearts, we quite frankly annoyed the crap out of them. We got to the hotel around 1:30 am on August 2nd and were told just to contact the RC later that day about the luggage issue. The next day when we reported in we kind of got the run around, not intentionally of course, but between our luggage issue and the other 500 plus participants problems they were a little swamped! When we checked in the next day we talked to Moataz, which for some reason I  kept calling him Cojax (Sorry doll, I am terrible with names!). Moataz took a copy of our passport and luggage claim to give to the next person. We came back around noon and were told nothing new, but come back around dinner time. After we came back that night we met up with our saving grace himself, Hamza.

Our two favorite Egyptians!
Me, Mohamed, Hamza, Miss Artesia
Hamza is without a doubt one of my favorite people I know and it is not just because he helped get our luggage back either! Throughout all the baggage junk he was very calm while dealing with me, despite my slight loss of my cool at moments. He also offered to drive us to the airport at midnight to look for our bags. After Hamza had been talking to the airport security about our luggage whereabouts for an hour, he finally motioned for us to bring him our passports (past the security door)! Without even thinking I started walking towards him digging in my bag for my passport. Suddenly I hear the security guards shouting at me in arabic and english to get back and running towards me as if I was a seriously a threat to national security. Come on bro! Well this night ended in disappointment again without any luggage luck!

The next day Miss Artesia and I were looking for Mr. Hamza all morning to check for updates about the luggage. Finally found him in the afternoon and true to my nature I started to harass him about "ignoring" us all morning. Finally he just apologized, and said "I was in a car accident this morning." He said it so nonchalantly as if it was not a big deal. Immediately the mom in me showed up and started grilling him to see if he was ok, what happened, etc. Luckily for him he was not hurt and there was very little damage done to the car. He had actually fallen asleep at the wheel from his lack of sleep while helping to make the congress run as smoothly as possible. When talking about it I found out that he and Mohamed (our second saving grace in Egypt) were average 1-2 hours a night. I am sure most of the reception and organizational committees were getting that amount of sleep as well, but my heart just went out to them. They put on such a great conference on so little sleep. Props ladies and gentlemen, YOU ROCK!

My days were slightly running together at this time, but on to our new friend, Mohamed. Mohamed was also gracious enough to offer to drive us out to the airport at 1 am the next morning. Just like the past we found out no luck with the luggage, still being held hostage by Air France. Like the night before we went back to the hotel to get on the internet trying to figure out our next plan of attack! In the mean time that we were working our best to find our luggage from Egypt, my parents being the angels that they are were working their best from America to file reports and try to find our luggage as well!

Luckily for us, on day 7 of no luggage, our bags finally came in! Yes you heard me right, they finally came in and you want to know the good part? Our bags actually weren't the last of the conference bags to come in! One of our new friends luggage did not come in until a few days after us, bless his heart. I know I have kind of went on a rant about this luggage nonsense, but in all honesty it was a great life learning experience and I am extremely grateful for all our help we had! I can say that now that I am back home with anything I need just an arm length away.

That's right you guessed it... Our beautiful luggage! YAY
Since this blog has kind of been a downer I thought I would recap with some of the GOOD things that came from losing our luggage.

First, we were able to see how easy it really is to make due with what you have. We were able to last 5 days on two pairs of pants and two tops each. Yes I know you are probably thinking I sure hope y'all washed your clothes and yes we did. Well in the sink with shampoo until we were able to get a spare set and send it to the laundry services. Never in my life have I pictured myself saying this, but I would have loved to of had a washboard with me. Haha future note: Pack a washboard in your carry on with a small bottle of detergent, oh well along with a few sets of clothes too! 

Secondly, we were able to get to know two outstanding guys and have first hand experience with the wonderful Egyptian culture. As I have said before everybody we met in Egypt, whether it was the hotel receptionist or the airport security guard (even though you tried to tackle me) they were all great! Also, if we hadn't of lost our luggage we probably wouldn't of had the opportunity to spend more time with RCs and OCs, so yay for that!

Third, since we did not retrieve our luggage until after the auction night we had some American goodies with us. I had brought some New Mexican salsa to add to the gift bags and along with all the candy Miss Artesia had we were able to make some goody bags from Hamza and Mohamed as a small token of appreciation. I am sure it was not much to offer, but hey it's the thought that counts right guys?!?

Finally, we decided that the moral of our trip was to work on our patience. I know that may seem a little ironic to go on vacation and have to work on patience, but here me out. Throughout it all I think we did learn a great deal more than we had of it. By the time day 7 had rolled around we were both adapting pretty well with what few options we had and probably could have made due in any situation that presented itself our way. It really opens up your eyes and shows you that you really do not necessarily need all that junk that you brought with you. Even though we were doing just fine with what we had, we sure were glad when we got our luggage. Also we started to take more pictures once we weren't wearing the same set of clothes every other day! :)

The funny part about the entire deal was that when we were in Atlanta flying out to begin our trip, we had eaten dinner at Pei Wei. After our meal both of us eagerly opened our fortune cookies and found two fitting fortunes for our soon to be trip. My fortune read something along the lines of a great adventure is about to be at your door step. Obviously we both assumed that it was our trip as a whole and smiled about the coincidence. Miss Artesia's fortune read something along the lines of you soon will learn a great deal of patience. Ironic right??? Little did we know that her fortune would be just as fitting as mine by the time our great adventure was over! Well folks that just goes to show you that even though you may get 100 fortunes that don't necessarily seem to fit, there is always that chance that one of those will be more accurate than you can imagine.

I apologize for the lengthiness of this blog, but there is just too many good things from our trip to keep this baby short! I hope you all had a terrific Labor day weekend and we will talk to you soon loves!

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