I am happily and safely back in Zambia. The trip home was fairly uneventful. I had three flights instead of two because of the British Airways strike.
Normally with British Airways we get three bags included with our ticket but for some reason this didn't happen this time. I had to use three different airlines and so the luggage situation was a bit complicated but it all worked out after some repacking right at the airport.
My only mishaps in flying were that I arrived at the boarding gate in London for the wrong flight. I didn't know there were two flights going to South Africa that night so I waited for the #55 instead of the #57. At least I was at the earlier flight and didn't miss mine. Aside from some bruised pride I was ok. I had a coffee at a little shop and then headed down to the gate for my flight. I was pretty early and then the flight was delayed because new staff had to be trained quickly to replace the ones on strike. I got tired of waiting and laid my head down on my luggage in the crowded waiting area. Next thing I knew I woke up and the area was nearly empty. There were only a few people left in line. Once again I was red-faced. I was really just glad I woke up in time!
I ended up flying out of Houston on Continental, out of London on British Airways down to South Africa, and then South African Airways to Zambia. With all those airline changes it was no wonder that one of my suitcases didn't arrive with me. Unfortunately it was the one that had nearly all my clothes and shoes. I did have a couple changes of clothes but only one pair of shoes. By the time I got my suitcase back I had been wearing those heels for over 5 days. I was so ready for a change!
When we went to the airport to pick up my suitcase we were led through back areas to the storage room. As we got close to the baggage area we could hear a woman shouting and hollering about something. We didn't recognize the language she was speaking. When the airline representative opened the door she muttered "pornography". We wondered what she was talking about and looked in the direction of the hollering. We thought perhaps someone had been caught with 'bad' magazines. But, lo and behold, there was a stark naked woman standing there. A customs official ran over and tried to cover her chest with a newspaper. Her traveling companion was the one that was shouting and making such a fuss. She kept miming doing a cavity search. Through some explanation from the airport official and our own deductions we figured that these women were told that they and their belongings would need to be searched for drugs. The one lady stripped off her clothes in protest.
By the time we got our suitcases (one of our volunteers who arrived the day before me lost hers too) and made our way back to customs things were a bit calmer. The two ladies were from Angola so they only spoke Portuguese and broken English. They seemed to be inexperienced with traveling and the airport personnel had their hands full assisting them with all the procedures.
It certainly made our day that much more interesting. If for no other reason, I'm glad to be back in Africa because you never know from one day to the next what you might experience.