So my Australian visit came to an end. After three wonderful months, I was looking forward to being back with Joe in our little Spanish mountain village. While I’d been enjoying an Australian summer, he’d been in chilly Britain getting various medical tests done.
The bad luck began in the plane at Sydney airport. As the hostesses checked seat belts and locked the doors, black clouds obscured the sky and the captain’s voice crackled into life.
“I’m sorry to inform you that although we are ready for take-off, a violent storm is approaching, and until it passes, the airport is closed. We must wait until the storm moves away before we can begin our journey.”
For two hours I sat with the other passengers as the storm raged and rain lashed the portholes. Finally the rain eased and the lightning flashes stopped, and we joined the queue to taxi to the runway and take off.
But the two hour delay was catastrophic. I missed every connection after that: Singapore, London Heathrow, and Madrid. Each time I raced to the correct terminal, then the boarding gate, only to be told I’d missed my plane. Finally, after more than 2 days of travelling, I reached Almeria, my destination.
I couldn’t wait to get out of the baggage claim area and meet Joe who I knew was waiting for me outside. The suitcases rumbled round on the carousel until every case was claimed and my fellow passengers disappeared through the sliding doors. I stood in the empty hall, and as some unseen hand turned off the carousel, a uniformed Spanish lady appeared.
“There is no more baggage,” she said. “If you have lost your luggage, you must come with me and fill out a form.”
Tired and unhappy, I did so and wrote down all the details. The suitcase contained all my summer clothes and shoes, camera, address book, and worst of all, my notes for the next Old Fools book. However, I was confident that the suitcase would soon be found. If I’d known this was just the beginning of an epic suitcase saga, I’d have been even more miserable.
Joe was waiting for me, and I forgot the luggage problem as we hugged each other.
“It’s so good to see you,” breathed Joe.
“And you,” I said. “Any news about the tests?”
“Let’s wait until we get home,” he said.
It was wonderful to drink in all the familiar views as we drove into the mountains towards El Hoyo. Spring had already touched the trees with splashes of green, and wild flowers dotted the roadsides. The village was empty and our house felt cold, but as soon as Joe lit the wood-burner, it felt like home again. The medical news was worrying but discussing it helped.
“So,” said Joe, changing the subject, “did you bring me back a present from Australia?”
Oops! I hadn’t.
“Yes,” I said, thinking quickly, “but it’s in the lost suitcase…”
“Never mind,” he said, taking my hands in his, “being back in El Hoyo with you is the best present.”
“Oh dear,” I said, guilt painting my face red. “Actually I didn’t get you a present…”
“I know,” he smiled, “but I still meant what I said.”