On April 5th at 6pm I checked my new North Face backpack in at the Halifax airport and went on my way to security and off to Peru! A couple of hours later, we touched down in Toronto and then shortly after, we were boarding again for Lima. With my luggage checked all the way through with Air Canada, I didn’t see it after it was dropped off in Halifax as I didn’t have to pick it up in Toronto.
When I arrived at the Lima airport after a long night of restless sleep, the group of 12 of us headed to pick up our baggage. One by one, each of my passengers hauled their luggage off the conveyor belt and loaded it on to a cart for easy transportation. Round and round the same bags went, not being picked up. A few of my participants had bags that were late getting on the conveyor belt, but they grabbed them and waited for me.
I got increasingly concerned as almost all of the passengers off the entire plane now had their bags and had left for immigration and customs.
Finally, with no more bags coming around the conveyor belt, I let my passengers know to go through customs without me and that I’d be through shortly.
Really? Everyone else got their luggage except for me?
Really? What are the chances that the group leader would be the one without luggage?
Yup … just my luck.
I headed to the baggage claim desk to fill out paperwork. I left my cell number, email and details of the hotel I would be at in Lima for the next couple of days. They said they would let me know when it was located … when that would be? Who knew.
So, off I headed through customs and out to the main area where our G Adventures guide was waiting with my group. He had expected to see me first, not last … and here I was with only one bag, containing my camera.
Thank goodness for having my camera and laptop as carry on as they were the most important part for the upcoming photo tour!
My luggage wasn’t on the plane and there was nothing I could do about it, so off we went to the hotel to settle in. Not exactly the way I was looking forward to starting the trip.
I knew that I wasn’t likely to hear from Air Canada that day as we were the only flight in from Toronto to Lima that day. And, did my luggage even make it to Toronto? Who knew!?
After dropping our stuff at the hotel we did a little city tour, had lunch and headed back to the hotel for nearly everyone who was headed on the optional City of Contrasts tour at 2pm.
I had planned on doing some preparations for the next day’s photo workshop, so I wasn’t headed out on the tour, but now, I had to stay back and make insurance arrangements.
I dug out my insurance information and discovered that the 1-800 numbers were all for within Canada or the US. The next numbers were to call collect to the US. So, I gave the front desk a call and asked them to help me make a collect call. Unfortunately they were not able to. They said it couldn’t be done. I was preparing to head out to a pay phone when I decided to do some internet research or see if I could contact my insurance company by internet.
After a little research on the good ol’ internet I discovered that if I called 108 I would get an international operator. Luckily the first time I called I got an operator who spoke English and she placed my collect call to the insurance company. When someone said hello, the call got disconnected. Go figure! I called back and my operator only spoke Spanish, so I struggled through asking her to place a collect call.
Finally, I was through to the insurance company (Bon Voyage). She explained that if my luggage was delayed by more than 12 hours I could spend $100 for emergency toiletries and clothing. So, as of 6pm that night I could officially go buy deodorant, a toothbrush, etc.
I called my other insurance company as well, but reached the emergency medical department who wasn’t able to help me out with anything related to cancellation and interruption. Then she told me that because it was the weekend I wouldn’t be able to reach anyone at all. That sucked. I never did reach them.
My biggest concern was that if my luggage didn’t arrive by the next day that I might not get it until I was in Lake Titicaca or later.
The next day, we headed out to do my photo workshop, without the cheat sheets and games that I had prepared. Unfortunately the paperwork was all in my luggage. Luckily it wasn’t a huge issue as my presentation was on my laptop, but it did put a little hitch in what I had planned for the day.
Late that afternoon, after all the teaching was done and people went their separate ways to practice and explore, my G Adventures leader took me shopping … That’s probably a blog post on it’s own.
When I returned to the hotel, I tried to contact Air Canada baggage at the number they gave me, but they weren’t open on the weekends. Now, not sure what good the number was going to do me when my luggage was lost on a Saturday and I was leaving Lima on a Monday. I called several Air Canada customer service numbers, the baggage claim, the Lima airport … all to get the same information, that it would be closed until Monday.
So, I took to email and twitter. I emailed explaining that I was leaving the next day and wasn’t sure how they would be able to deliver my luggage to Lake Titicaca at a homestay, so hoping to have it before then. Then I started tweeting to see if someone could get me in touch with anyone in the baggage claims department on the weekend. I really didn’t want to take off on the rest of my tour with only one pair of pants and a couple of t-shirts. I was still missing a lot of toiletries and the $100 wouldn’t go far if I had to survive one week off of it.
Air Canada was quick to respond on twitter, but didn’t offer much help, other than that they would get my luggage to me as quickly as possible. Unfortunately that wasn’t helping me find out where it was, when it would arrive or how it would be delivered.
Shortly after my twitter conversation, I received an email from baggage claims stating that my luggage had been found and would arrive in Lima by Tuesday. Unfortunately I was leaving early Monday morning, so I responded and explained the situation.
That evening, I showered and changed into my new clothes and we headed out for our city tour at night, including supper.
When we returned to the hotel at about 10pm that evening the girls at the front desk were excited to tell me that my luggage had arrived while we were out.
Phew! I wouldn’t be leaving Lima without it. What a relief!
Even better, I went upstairs to my room to check it and sure enough it had arrived with no damage and everything still packed away nicely.
Despite the fact that I had to take it to the airport again first thing the next morning, I sure was glad to have it back and have clean clothes, of my own!