Thursday, July 25, 2013

Welcome to Botswana! Your luggage isn’t here? You will probably never see it again.

36 hours of travel, three airports, one long sprint, and no baggage- but I made it to Botswana!

Well, I am here.  Yesterday morning I wasn’t so sure I would make it.  My first flight from DC to NYC was delayed three hours, causing me to arrive at JFK airport 27 minutes before my New York-South Africa flight was scheduled to depart.  As per usual with most setbacks, it was followed by several more challenges.
Apparently if you arrive at JFK on a United domestic flight you have to exit the airport, take a train to the international terminal, go back through security, and then attempt to find your gate.  So, here’s my abridged play by play: Run from first plane to tram. Get on tram to international terminal while frantically looking at my watch.  Run to front of line at security and proceed to beg the security guard to let me cut the line. He agrees. Get in line to go through the x-ray machine.  Couple in front of me decides to take pictures of one another walking through metal detector. Security tells them to stop.  Couple continues to take photos.  TSA gets mad at couple and tells them to erase pictures.  Couple takes another picture. TSA shuts down the line. AHHH!

Enter Kelly. I turn to the couple and speaking with great enthusiasm say, “Don’t come to the U.S., break the rules and punish the rest of us.  If I came to your country (I had seen their passports and knew where they were from) and did something this stupid I would be thrown in jail.  Stop it!” Then I gave them the ever-famous “Phelan eyes of shame,” stepped in front of them, told TSA my flight would depart in 14 minutes and being a law abiding citizen I would appreciate it if he could please let me through.  And he did!  Thank you TSA.

I went through the metal detector without incident, but apparently there was something they didn’t like in my bag.  They asked me how long I had until my plane departed; I told them 11 minutes, so they waived me through and suggested I run.  And that’s just what I did.  I’m pretty sure I ran a mile.  They had just closed boarding, but fortunately opened it back up for me. So, I boarded the plane out of breath and sweating, but I didn’t miss my plane.
Fortunately my 18 hour flight to South Africa was relatively smooth.  I made it through the Johannesburg airport quickly and made a friend in the passport control line that I passed the time with during my layover, and then fell asleep the second I sat on the SA-Gaborone flight, so that flight was over in no time.

The only other hiccup arose while I was standing at the baggage claim here in Gaborone and realized everyone got their bags, except me.  I told the representative from the University of Botswana who picked me up.  His response? “Oh they are probably lost.  That happens a lot in Africa.  You will probably never see those again.”  Great!
In all reality, travel in general tends to be hectic, and in my experience, it is even more so in Africa.  But I arrived safely and that’s what counts.  Tomorrow I head to campus, where no doubt the adventure will continue.


  1. This is by far the most entertaining thing I've read in a while, best part is I can see your gestures and facial expressions as you tell the story! Awesome!

  2. I hope they find your luggage soon or this will show us this is how they keep the economy going. Lol justing joking. I can't wait to read more about your trip this is the closest I will ever get.

  3. ahh! it is the worst when they cannot find your luggage...happy to hear you arrived safetly though!

  4. HAHA! Thanks Number Three. Thanks Wanda and Shannon. Fortunately my luggage finally arrived. I just posted about it, "Hopefully your bags won't be completely empty."