Downhill in a Hurry

luggage tagsMy mom and I have a phrase we like to exchange: there are problems, and there are inconveniences. Cancer is a problem. Losing your luggage is an inconvenience. Honestly, I’ve had no problems for a long time, but this week, the inconveniences are getting me down.

When you last left your doomed traveler, he, Alpha and Laurie were stuck at night in a dead Land Cruiser at a police checkpoint in rural Liberia. Alpha, resourceful man that he is, discovered that if he got the car in gear with the engine off, there was enough torque on the starter to drag the car into life. We just couldn’t change gears or stop without stalling. In Saturday night traffic, going through the heart of the Monrovia traffic snarl.

Surprisingly, we made it as far as Congotown, only about five minutes from where I was staying, before the starter gave out. Alpha had called one of his fellow drivers from the road, and he reached us just as we rolled to our final stop at the side of Tubman Boulevard. Laurie and I hopped in, thanked the intrepid Man of Steel one last time and got whisked to our destination.

Jennah and her team had been waiting an hour and a half, but were cheerful and pleasant. I, on the other hand, was frazzled and useless. I thanked them for their time, and explained that I was long overdue for a shower and some sleep in something that wasn’t bouncing down a highway. They were understanding and offered me a ride back to Moko’s, where I’d been told my bags were finally waiting. You know where this is going, right?

“Hi John, sorry to get in so late – it’s been a long day.”

“No problem. We have you here, in the same room as before.”

“Thanks! Um, where are my bags?”

“Oh, I put your bag in the closet. There.”


“Yes, isn’t that your bag?”

“Yes, but… wasn’t there another one?”

The bag that arrived contains mostly gifts I had brought for friends here and in Ghana. I had the accidental fortune to pad it with a pair of jeans and a couple of shirts, but the bag with my stuff is, apparently, still missing. As I write, today’s socks and all are soaking in the sink, ready to be hung up so that they’ll be at least marginally dry tomorrow morning, when once again they’ll be pressed into service by your faithful and apparently cursed traveler. No problem, really. But getting to feel more than a tad inconvenient.

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