The first time I went to Africa, I got molested on the plane by a Sri Lankan man and nearly killed by a malaria-addled 70 year-old, who swerved our pick-up truck off the road and into a gully (and that was just the first 48 hours). So this time, when my journey commenced with an upgrade to business class, I was like "Shit bitches, I gots this trip MADE."
Fast foward one 14-hour flight, a 7 hour layover, and another 5 hour flight and I arrive in Tanzania tired, smelly, and lusting after the sweet sweet joy that is a clean set of clothes and a soft bed. Battered baggage carousel revolves...and revolves...and revolves. Numerous obviously broken-into bags revolve...and revolve...and revolve. And my shit aint there.
I go to the card table next to the bag carousel to speak to the first of three agents. All of the ensuing conversations go something like this:
"My bag is gone."
"Oh Mama, I'm so sorry but we'll get it to you."
"I leave for Arusha tomorrow, can you get it to me beforehand?"
"That is not possible."
"Can you get it to me in Arusha by the following day?"
"That is not possible. But we can get it to you the day after that."
"But I will have already left for the Serengeti."
"I am sorry Mama. We will keep it here and you can pick up on your way back."
"Yes, because your service has thus far been utterly trustworthy and reliable, I would be happy to leave my unattended bag in your care and go on safari in my underwear," I think. Then I check myself because the kind of people of Tanzania are not to blame, its the asswipes in Johannesburg. And I'm lucky to be here. And a lost bag is not the end of the world...blah blah, yadda yadda.
So I peace out to my hotel, hoping that a stiff drink will help me start to make peace with the concept of subsisting on two shirts and one pair of pants for the next week and a half. The people at my hotel were beyond awesome (big ups to the Oyster Bay Hotel!). By the next morning, they delivered a package to the room with all of the toiletries I'd need for the trip, a sleep shirt, and recommendations for where to pick up clothes in Arusha before I head out on safari.
The suggestions were most welcome, but tailored to white people, which, in Africa, generally means exorbitantly priced. I nixed the concept of spending $100 on khaki shorts in favor of checking out a mitumba, the markets where locals sell used clothing purchased by the bale from the US (i.e. Africa's answer to a flea market). I felt a bit like Annie singing "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here," as I was followed through the stalls by a parade of maybe 15 sellers all selecting garments, sizing me up, and offering alterations. In the end, I spent $4 and left with a pair of Old Navy pants, GAP shorts, and a JC Penny button-down. Then it was off to the crafts market where I blew $60 and scored a woven leather bag, leather beaded sandals, 8 bracelets, a beaded belt, and two kangas.
Then I headed out on safari.
Now, I should say that normally, I'd be totally down with scruffing it up for a week or so, alternating outfits, washing things out in the sink, getting down with the adventure of it. But this (for-work) safari is in schmancy land (i.e. - the per-person, per-night rate is nearly twice my monthly rent), so I didn't really feel comfortable rolling onto the verandah for sundown G&Ts in stained cargo pants and a "Tanzania" tee.
So, I decided to get creative and go all safari-wear MacGyver on my new purchases. The first night, I used an in-room sewing kit and some strategic belting to make this high-waisted paper bag skirt:
Tonight I used a sarong from my room, wrapped a scarf around my waist obi-style, and added a belt over top for a weird assymetrical strapless dress. Woo. (apologies for the MySpace-circa-2004 photos, I'm on my own out here, so the mirror shot is the best I gots).
I think I've got about two more days of creative energy in me before I just start going nekkid. Or perhaps you, dear readers, have tips to share. How can I make my limited wardrobe work for the next few days? How have you improvised when you've lost your bags? Should I go all Sound-of-Music and make leiderhosen from the bedsheets? And can anyone airlift me some contact solution?
Smooches from Africa-land,