Monday, July 21, 2008

traveling tales of lylah - part 10 - Madrid, Iberia & Luggage

This morning I left San Sebastian, Spain - Basque Country. My seven year old granddaughter, Jillian, actually got up at 6 am to say goodbye to me. So sweet. Love that girl.

I flew Iberia, the ones that lost my luggage about 28 days ago. The flight to Madrid was uneventful. I forgot how much you have to walk through that airport, so it didn't take long to change from my new high heeled sandals (thanks to Iberia) into - flip flops. Smart decision.

So, I'm just sitting, hanging out, checking email and it's almost noon. My flight on British Airways says it's going to board at 13:15. I get this crazy idea. I go find out where the Iberia service desk is and I head there. I have time. I have lots of time. I talk to the nicest (for reals) woman and explain how her company (Iberia) lost my luggage and that I was trying to find it. She lets me know that they only store luggage for up to five days at her "special place" and I needed to go to the LZ Department. I told her I'd take a taxi there, and ask if she'd be so kind to write out directions for the driver. She did. And, I'm off. Running - not even sure how to get out of the airport, let alone find a taxi.

What am I thinking? Am I nuts? I goof up the little Spanish I do know by telling THEM that THEY don't speak Spanish (ask my daughter Jenni - she'll tell you).


I flag down this very nice older taxi guy who doesn't speak a lick of English and we take off after I hand him my paper and point communicating that - that's where I MUST to go.

OK, I had momentary thoughts of - what if this guy is weird and I don't ever get back to the Terminal 4. What if I miss my flight? What if he doesn't really know where we're really wanting to go.

For another few mental moments and adrenaline dumps, I imagined that I was on the Great American Race. My taxi guy's into this with me - and we're off - to find Iberia's warehouse with 25,000 suitcases and mine will be there! The catch is - is that I need to be back at Madrid Airport Terminal 4 and through security and find my gate within 45 minutes. Yes!

The race against time is on! I am NUTS to do this - I say to myself . . . I can't believe I'm actually doing this NOW.

Here are is my "map" to find the lost luggage warehouse with Iberia. If you've lost your luggage with Iberia and are in Madrid want to go on an adventure then follow the map or email me for clearer directions.

The view from a speeding taxi guy's taxi in Madrid, Spain.

The HUGE, let me say VERY HUGE cargo warehouse for Iberia. We pulled up behind that white van and I'm really twitching. I not only see my taxi guy's meter twitching, but I'm looking at my watch and my time has just about run out and I think, "How in the world am I going to ever find my suitcase in that HUGE building." My next thought is . . . "this IS nuts!"

We go through the security required at this Iberia Cargo Center (where they take my passport and write it down), my taxi guy pulls into a spot, I run upstairs and into the building to the desk area. Fortunately, the woman speaks English however . . .

We leave this Iberia Cargo section and head over here . . .

. . . as she directs us to this building. Across the way - to this very large brown brick building where I'm told to go up the steps.

Somehow, I don't know how, but I did communicate this to my taxi guy - I suppose it's with a lot of pointing and nodding. And, we're off, the race against time continues. I think the only time I've had this adrenaline dump is when I married Michael and when I had babies.

I go inside and this gal doesn't speak English but she sees my processing luggage papers from Iberia and she points to the picture of the suitcase on the paper and leads me outside and around the corner and points to this . . .

car. That's where I NEED to go. Now, at this point, I just start running - in my flip flops. I don't communicate anything to my taxi guy.

Real stupid. I'm running and all I'm thinking is "What if my taxi guy takes off and my hand carry piece, my lap top, my handbag with my passport are in HIS taxi . . . great, Lylah - you're more than nuts - you're crazy!"

I just prayed and asked God for mercy. The other think that was happening is the ticker on my watch was going fast. It's like 12:45 and my flight has boarded and I'm no where near the airport, let alone racing through security in Madrid. Ahhh...just rehearsing this causes my heart to palpitate.

Other thoughts: my husband isn't going to see me tomorrow, my husband isn't going to be happy about this IF I miss my flight and have to reschedule everything, this will make some great blog fodder or at the very least a good story to tell my grandchildren who all prayed that my luggage would come because I'd been bringing some High School Musical stuff for Jillian's birthday.

This is where I need to go. And, I'd been told they stop working at 1 pm and it's almost 1pm so I buzz the buzzer - several times and slowly this guy . . .

. . . comes to the door with the biggest grin. . . and calmly leads me into the next room. At this point my taxi guy, who surely must think I am crazy, shows up. Phew. Thanks God. You're good.

This desk worker begins to ask me for something of which I have no clue what it is. I figure out that he wants some sort of verification that I am someone who wants to look at the luggage and he needs proof. I hand over my passport and he slooowly fills in my information.

I am frantic. I can't believe I'm actually in some warehouse in some unknown part of Madrid with some unknown taxi guy looking for a piece of luggage and my flight is going to take off and I am NOT near the airport let alone going through security.

Then, I'm ushered into another small waiting room where I get to meet a lovely (but upset) family from Nigeria. Their luggage had been missing the same amount of time as mine. What I found absolutely interesting was that they spoke Spanish!

The man's wife is ushered in and I must wait. Time is totally killing me now. This nice Nigerian guys says, "You will find your luggage." I say, "Really?" "Yes." Then I say, "Are you a man of faith?" To which he replies, "Yes."

Not sure what his faith was, because it was my turn to go look through about six different large rooms.

In the six (or so) large rooms there were rows of steel shelving units that went from floor to ceiling and most of the rows were filled from top to bottom with someone's luggage. The floors were filled with luggage too. I'm not sure WHAT kind of organizational system was there-if it was the first rooms the newest luggage or what. I'm not sure they knew either, because it all seemed pretty random.

After going through the first set of rooms, this really kind guy who spoke some pretty good English took me into the room I have pictured below. This room had these pull out lockers again with steel shelving units. I scanned each one and to no avail. I didn't get to see ALL the luggage spaces, but I can tell you that there are thousands.

It was a bit comforting, at least, that this guy communicated how "bad" he felt with the lost luggage. He kept saying that it's not good what has happened. Then he said something about wanting to "get credit" for showing me...and then it switched to "I will look for your luggage." HUH? He took my claim form, made a copy and told me he'd look for my luggage.

I snapped this as my taxi guy spun around to race me back to the Madrid airport.

We get to the airport and the horrible thing is - is that I don't have enough Euros to pay this guy.

I know. . . . I know - it's totally awful. He sees my panic and I'm pointing to his meter thinking that the 38 means that I owe 38 euros -which I have, but he's telling me - it's more. I pull out a 10 pound from England and he looks at it - looks at me and for some reason the mercy of God toward me is on this man and he shakes his head and opens the trunk and I'm grabbing everything . . .

. . . running like mad. I get through security NOT without a hitch. The little security chic decides that I have something in my carry on that needs to be evaluated. Can ya believe it? I sure couldn't. She goes through almost every thing in there. She pulls out my little baggie of underwear. Embarrasing! AHHHH...

I finally get through, but not after she gives me this very dirty look - and then I'm running . . . and praying that I somehow make it. I look on the big illuminated board that tells you your gate and my British Air/Iberia gate is the LAST one. It also says that my gate has closed! Can ya believe it?

I get to the gate, waving my hands, saying who knows what and the gate checkin guys says, "Calm down" in English no less. The gate had closed - but they let this poor luggage chasing woman on board.

For some reason the front section of the plane had three empty seats - I grabbed them and took a nap for much of the two hour flight to London.

Am I glad I had that experience? Yes.

Would I do it again? Yes. There was just something about leaving and NOT having the regret that I didn't try.

That's how this life is: don't leave it with any regrets . . . don't leave it with knots untied . . . or bridges burned.

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Heart of Wisdom said...

What an adventure!!
Thanks for sharing.

Muthering Heights said...

You sure have some crazy adventures!!

Beth Ann said...

Now THAT is a story and a half! I am thoroughly enjoying your luggage stories, but don't take that the wrong way. I do not enjoy your agony over the lost luggage!
As I read your story I keep wondering...HOW in the WORLD do they: 1) Loose luggage
2) NOT find the owners???

Agggg!!!! I also have many times of lost luggage, but not overseas! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you! :)

Lylah said...

I have had a crazy adventure with this one and Beth's such a mess...Iberia has the worst record and then British Airways the next. I only got into 1 "storage section" or "special place " (LOL) as I was told on the phone...of many. I'm talking many. They have about 25,000 pieces of luggage. While scanning very quickly for my own...I did see this HUGE PINK one and thought, "If only some woman who lost was still looking for a BIG PINK suitcase would call me.

I'm going to get real good a packing a carry on for everything including the next trip to Spain. I've got a dear friend, Andi, who has offered to help. I'll probably take her up on it.

So glad I can have women join me in the laughter of it all.

la femme elisabeth said... no luggage still? Yikes! You are a great story teller, though! Thanks for the laughs...
BTW: I memed you on my blog. You have to look if you don't know what it is...
loves, elisabeth

RefreshMom said...

Awww...I'm sorry you didn't actually find your luggage. Too bad you didn't have more than 45 minutes! I think I'd have done the same thing; leave no stone unturned. Except, of course, the ones you don't have time to turn.

So do they look through their 25,000!!! pieces of luggage and try to reunite them with their owners, or do you only have a shot at getting it back if you can show up in person to hunt on your own? The conspiracy theorist (as my DH says) in me would be guessing that the Iberian airlines employees are pretty well dressed when they get out of uniform!