Just when I thought we were in the clear.
After unloading Saah’s Land Cruiser and splitting up into guesthouse rooms, I discovered one of my checked bags was missing. My stomach sank as we double-checked outside, in the rooms, and even calling Saah back after he departed home so we could get his assessment of bag quantity.
Nothing. No sign of the bag.
We called Air France. No luck but got a phone number of baggage handling at the Monrovia airport. No answer. By this time it’s about 11pm. Nothing could effectively happen till morning.
After a restless night, we had a breakfast appointment at the Royal Hotel. Our guest was a no show. Breakfast was delicious and I was able to get the name of Esther who works with the hotel dealing with their customer luggage issues. A call to Esther led to a referral to Jacinda which then got handed off to the airport supervisor, Meta. Ultimately the only way to resolve the case of the missing bag was to go back to the airport.
In another plot twist, my Liberian phone card wasn’t working because it appeared my SIM card wasn’t registering. Fortunately, Marsha was using her international Verizon plan and I could make all of these calls. So Marsha offered to come back to the airport with me.
Our trip was traffic-free so it took just 50 minutes (yes, that’s 160 minutes faster than last night). We made our contacts and shortly, the supervisor poked her head out of the terminal. Meta was very helpful as we walked to the old terminal where it appeared customs agents store lost luggage. After waking the security guard from his deep slumber, Meta acquired the keys. I wish we took a picture of the storage room door. It had 4 padlocks and 2 door locks, all on a rickety wooden door. Quite the impenetrable fortress.
The door scrapped open to a halt at about a 45 degree angle, revealing a hint of shelves packed with miscellaneous orphaned luggage. Meta stepped aside and I pushed the door a bit more nearly knocking over my missing suitcase. It was a sweet reunion as my eyes met the unmistakable bright pink duct tape stripe upon which I had many trips ago scrawled “FRAGILE”. The extended roller handle seemed to reach out to me like my toddler granddaughter, Meghan, grabbing at my finger on a walk. With an embrace of relief, I wrapped my hand in hers and pulled the bag out of this checked baggage purgatory. Freedom!
Marsha, Saah, and I hit the road back to the guesthouse after rejoicing with a brief call to the patiently-waiting Roxanne and Sharon. Along the way I was able to get my SIM card replaced and activated, plus acquire a tasty celebratory apple fritter.
Our missionary quartet plus Saah are currently en route to Gbarnga…thank God!