Dear reader. I hope that you are acquainted with the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. Perhaps even with “The Flying Trunk”. His tale is about a young man who comes into possession of an old trunk, which turns out to have the capability of flying. So he enters the trunk and flies out into the world. Here he almost obtains the princess and half the kingdom, but alas, the trunk burns, and he is bound to suffer the conditions of an ordinary life. Poor bastard…
My personal fairy tale is quite the same with a few indifferent discrepancies:
– I’m not related to Hans Christian Andersen although we have the same surname
– My tale is not about a trunk but about a canvas bag
– I didn’t fly with the bag, the bag flew on its own
– I didn’t propose to any princess and I never had the opportunity to obtain half a kingdom
– The bag didn’t burn
– My tale is true
But apart from that the tales are very much alike. Here comes my fairy tale.
On June 20th 2009 I commenced my journey to Southern Africa. I went by British Airways from Copenhagen via London Heathrow to Cape Town. Maybe you already feel your hair standing on end, because this introduction is thrilling indeed. And quite right, the bag didn’t arrive at the airport of Cape Town with my flight.
Up to the counter, reports and regrets, and “the bag will be searched for and delivered”. Next morning no news and the receptionist at Lady Hamilton Hotel promised to call British Airways during the day. Meanwhile I went shopping for the most necessary items, still being confident that the bag would show up.
The purpose of my tour to Southern Africa was to spend some days in Cape Town an after that to go on a three week’s drive with Jenman Safari along the Western coast of South Africa, through Namibia, into the Okavango Delta in Botswana and finally to Livingstone in Zambia.
Two days, Cape Point and fifty penguins (the guide from Jenman Safari was bitten by a penguin)after my arrival at Cape Town my baggage had still not arrived, so I had to go shopping for the whole tour. I have to say that the shops in Cape Town are odd and confusing. Or maybe just with a slightly different assortment from that of the shops in Denmark, hence I went in vain several times. But nice people… Off we went through fascinating landscapes and sceneries, with lots of highlights and lovely adventures, but that’s not the subject of my tale. Driving along, our guide, Jan, had regular phone calls with the office of Jenman Safari. The staff, not being responsible at all for my troubles, offered me the service to call British Airways on a daily basis.
One fine day, as far as I remember not far from the village of Solitaire with the famous Apfelstrudel with ……….?
– Oh ja, Jan got the message that my baggage had been found, was presently in Cape Town, and would be dispatched to Windhoek. Our next stop would be the city of Swakopmund near Windhoek from where a delivery would be arranged. I was so delighted that I gave a round of beer to my fellow travelers.
Alas, it didn’t succeed, the baggage didn’t arrive, and nobody could tell me why. So I had to accomplish the tour with my provisional outfit. Too bad, but I was consoled by Jan’s marvelous cooking. I fancy hot food and his masterpiece was to overturn the spice box into the pot, lovely.
At the airport of Johannesburg I made another attempt to find out the whereabouts of my baggage. A brave-hearted lady with a big voice and several convincing click-sounds urged the person at the other end of the wire to take some action. She was very kind, but obviously she couldn’t shake British Airways.
Having returned to Denmark I sat there missing my dear belongings. Particularly my fold-up leather hat, which I bought in Arizona and took with me ever since. But life must go on, so I began to collect invoices for the insurance, a dull job, which took quite some time.
On October 20th in the evening, however, I got a phone call from the airport of Copenhagen. Did I miss my baggage? “Yes?” Did I want to have it delivered, because she was looking right at it? “Oh yes, thank you!” And then I learned the story or at least some of it, because she couldn’t track all of it. My bag had been registered once in Cape Town, twice in London, and apparently once in Australia and somewhere else. The rest is silence. The bag arrived at my door at 11 o’clock in the evening, exactly four months after I sat out on my journey.
What a journey my bag had experienced! And free of charge! In the first place I became slightly envious, but after all I’m quite satisfied with my own gorgeous tour through Southern Africa. But my fellow travelers owe me a beer due to my hasty generosity.
And the bag? Didn’t say a word since it came back. But I think it smiles in a most peculiar way. Look for yourself.