South African Airways & OR Tambo Steal My Soccer Kit

29 July

Unpacking my suitcase was something I put off for a few hours on my return, but as I started to do so, I threw much of my clothes in a pile to wash, and proceeded to unwrap the souvenirs. I usually have quite success when packing, having been raised traveling and moving all over Europe, and our two months of moving around Southern Africa didn’t result in any major damage to anything, save Alisa’s MacBook Pro picking up a dent on the corner (she of course blames me as I was usually the one carrying it, but an impact that strong would’ve been one that I noticed, so it was likely someone/thing running into me/the bag). However, our luck wasn’t to hold on the return journey. Alisa’ wooden candle votive from Vilanculos, Mozambique had a piece of it’s star-shaped holder broken, and my stone bird from Zambia had it’s head broken off, it’s tree stand spit in half, and its nose smashed. Quite disappointing considering how far it came. I also made a mistake and thought it was wrapped by itself, when it was actually wrapped with one of Alisa’s wooden Zambian bowls. The votive can easily be repaired, the bird… major surgery will be needed, but his nose is likely unfixable.

Alisa had written that she had arrived in Kenya without much trouble, so now we all have to sit patiently till she finds internet access or buys a SIM card and gets some data. Getting Alisa’s Macbook Pro on the wifi and downloading all the app updates that had been waiting was quite an experience. iTunes downloaded about 80 apps in just under 5 minutes, while a +400 megabyte OS X update downloaded in 4 minutes. It would take about 3 hours for me to do just about 270-300 megabytes on the wifi at Mugg & Bean and much less on any other wireless internet. Plus I ran all the MobileMe galleries, and all the videos so those should run very smoothly now. Also, I’ve uploaded the full size files for the photos, so if you care to download one (or all) you’ll be able to see the in the full resolution that they were taken with (and if that was with Alisa’s Nikon D90, they”ll look beautiful). Being able to play video was another treat. We’re not concious of how much data we use in the US when surfing the web. One person in South Africa asked how it is that we have unlimited data plans with our internet providers, and I had never even thought about data being limited over the wires, but in South Africa unlimited data plans are just being introduced at very high rates. For comparison, my friend pays 120 USD for a 2.5 Gigabyte data plan each month. When you think that 120 is what most American families pay for a bundle of talk, internet, and TV, with NO data cap, you see what kind of expense families in emerging countries must pay to live the ‘American’ way.

After cleaning everything out of the bags, I realized I had not come across the gold charm I had bought my mother, and recognized that I must have left it in the terminal, as I had it when I got the VAT refund, but don’t remember seeing it  when I went through the Gate security and they opened up an inspected my entire bag. I did a slight repack of my bag to get the Amarula and Cabernet for my father, and must have somehow left it when I turned to head to the gate. I had been so careful to make sure everything was going back in, and can’t believe I would have left the small little black bag with the charm on the table. The other option is that it was stolen from my backpack on the flight, which I find highly unlikely.

A little later, I realized that my South African training top, was not in the wash and I had not taken it out. I now realized that Alisa’s orange suitcase being torn upside down was not the work of TSA but the baggage handlers of OR Tambo International Airport. My shirts had been right on top, as I had positioned them there to show the VAT claims guy pre-check in all the things I was claiming VAT on. Alisa’s camera lense box was moved significantly out of position and everything on top had been torn apart (obviously taken out and then thrown back in). I didn’t put a lock on Alisa’s back, while I had done so on mine even though it the key combo wasn’t locked. I suppose that I should have had the bag plastic wrapped like many others due at the airport, as OR Tambo has a terrible reputation for lost luggage and theft. South African Airways, also lacks a sterling reputation when it comes to baggage.

All told, the cost of the training top and charm top out at +200, so a costly loss. Certainly, I learned my lesson and will put locks or wrap any piece of luggage going through OR Tambo. I am just a bit gutted that the ONE piece of South Africa soccer gear that I was able to find (besides the Protea-less home kit) was the ONE thing that got stolen. I had seen so many people around the airport and bus stations with very nice soccer jackets and had wondered how they could afford them…. and now I know how!

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