On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Lost Bag in Lisbon
Long known as the poor man of Europe, Portugal has consistently had an economy that lagged behind other movers and shakers in modern European society. And that is perhaps the secret in the hidden delights of the unpretentious Portuguese and their contented way of life. The land and the architecture and the wine are all things that a traveler discovers are delightful, thus that same traveler can share in the contentment.
The Footloose Forester had an opportunity to spend some time in Portugal on official business; and some unplanned time when his luggage went off to Africa without him. In more than 20 years of travel by air, he had never lost a piece of luggage nor had his bags diverted beyond retrieval. That long streak of good luck ceased when, one midnight at a very quiet airport boarding gate, he was denied entry onto his plane to Cape Verde although it sat on the tarmac for a full 20 minutes while he watched helplessly. The ticket takers must have thought that it was OK to close the gates 10 or 15 minutes early because they did not see any passengers. Footloose Forester knew the departure time and the boarding time, but he didn’t count on someone wanting to quit his post a little early. So his bags flew off to Senegal. They got returned to Lisbon the next day, but in the meantime, the Footloose Forester had to take a taxi into Lisbon and wait it out. As was usual for him, he spent several hours walking and exploring the city. There was one pretty good American movie showing, so killing time was not so bad.
The research for documents related to the Cape Verde Islands that brought him to Portugal in the first place did not yield much because the material was scattered all over the city, and the stuff he was looking for was very limited in detail. If one looks, one may find treasure, but only the person who looks will find it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
A few years later he had another episode with lost/delayed bags. He thought that the ticket agent at Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa might have been a little hasty in sending his bag along the conveyor belt without a destination tag. Not that she was busy; on the contrary, she may have been daydreaming. At the time he checked in there was nobody in front of him, and nobody behind him. It should not have been a distracting situation for her. But he did not see his suitcase for more than a year.
After he picked it up in Nairobi, he then planned how he was going to deliver the message that was still inside. The person who gave him the note the previous year also requested that he deliver it to his colleague Margaret. Luckily, Margaret was still in Nairobi, so at the next staff meeting, the Footloose Forester stood up and announced that come rain, wind, or high water, he was, like a postal carrier, carrying out his duty to deliver the message as he had promised to deliver. Margaret was thankful, but she said that the message was really not important.