As I mentioned here, suitcase #4 never made it onto the plane in Lima, leaving me to wonder about the fate of such items as my favorite DVDs, a bottle of chili powder, and a brand new pair of jeans. Although the bag did not arrive on Monday afternoon as originally promised, I did receive it by courier bright and early the very next day. I'm happy to report that the suitcase arrived with all of the items completely intact; I wish I could say the same for the contents of the other bags.
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Although suitcase #4 had not yet materialized, on Monday I began the task of unpacking suitcases #1, #2 and #3. I pride myself on being a rather good packer, and I managed to fit quite a bit into those three bags. Daniel watched in amazement as item after item emerged from the depths of my luggage as though it were Mary Poppins' bottomless carpetbag. Bag #1 made it through the rigors of international travel unscathed, and Bag #2 contained just one broken item that was no great loss. But when I unzipped Bag #3 and I heard broken ceramic rattling around, I knew that I was about to be a very unhappy camper.
Bag #3 was the suitcase that was originally supposed to be a carry-on until the agent made me check it [read here]. This small suitcase contained all of the most fragile items that I had brought with me, and many of them hold a great deal of sentimental value for me. Upon opening the bag, I could see that the contents had shifted quite a bit. I slowly unwrapped my various trinkets, searching for the source of the tiny pieces of pottery that littered the bag. The first casualty was a small hand-painted plate that I had brought back from Spain, and the second was a beautiful piece of antique redware pottery that I had bought when I first graduated from college.
Operating on very little sleep and with a wealth of emotions already swirling around inside of me, I felt an anger well up inside of me that manifested itself as tears and statements hurled at the broken shards in front of me. "I paid $150 for this?! Look how they treated my luggage!" Poor Daniel and his aunt did their best to console me, but at that moment all of the stress of the past few days was being directed at that suitcase, and no amount of soothing words could have made me feel better.
The next morning, after a full night's rest, a bit of perspective and bag #4 in hand, I felt tremendously better. Let's face it: moving sucks, whether it be down the street or 5,500 miles away. At least I made it to Argentina in one piece, even if all my possessions didn't.