Almost two months after my luggage was lost, I finally have it back! What a journey it’s been though! Earlier in the week someone called from the Moscow airport urging me to come and pick it up. They called Alisa’s phone because that’s the number we gave them because my phone charger is in my suitcase so I have no mobile phone at the moment. So they called her and, based on what she related to me, basically said that they wanted me to come and pick up my suitcase. They were a bit put out that they had taken the trouble to ship it all the way from St. Petersburg and I wasn’t coming for it. Can you imagine?! After they lost my luggage, now they’re upset that they have to work to bring it back to me? Anyway, they then proceeded to tell her that I had until the 22nd of the month to come for it. This was a bit of a problem as I’ve been working weekends all month to cover for a teacher who’s on holiday.
But now that I was under a deadline, I made the trip out to the airport. I caught a bus into the Moscow, then took the metro to the train station which goes to the airport. I had to wait 50 minutes for the next train. Then, I caught the train out to the airport and went to Terminal 2. Then I found the Lost & Found but there were three different doors to go through. I approached one lady and told her my problem. She directed me to another door and there they typed up a form for me. They then told me to go “next door” and give them this form. I looked for “next door” but couldn’t find it. So I went back to the first woman and asked her. Turns out, there’s another Lost & Found on the other side of the terminal. She directed me there and I went over. There I found a room being manned by two women. I gave them my form and they led me into the room which was piled high with suitcases. From the looks of the room, there were a lot of people who had yet to claim their luggage. This made me wonder if there really was a deadline to come and get my suitcase or if they told everyone that in an attempt to get rid of some of it.
I quickly located my suitcase and then came more documents to fill out. They took my passport and told me to fill out a form listing my addresses (American and Russian) and the contents of my suitcase and how much it cost (ruble equivalent). I racked my brain trying to remember everything I had inside. I figured they weren’t going to be picky about it so I wrote what I could remember and guessed on the value. Then I brought the form back to the woman. Then she asked me if I had a customs declaration form. I told her I didn’t have one and she seemed genuinely shocked and asked why. I tried to explain that I had arrived in Russia with no luggage and therefore had nothing to declare, so I didn’t have a declaration form.
She informed me that everyone who came to Russia needed one and showed me an example of one, from an American man who had filled it out. She even told me that there were signs in the airport telling me that I needed on and that these signs were in both English and Russian, so I was sure to understand what was required. After telling her that I didn’t know this and that I had entered Russia several times without any declaration form, she said the only option was to write a letter saying why I didn’t have this form.
At this point I just wanted to cry. There was my suitcase, sitting less than a foot away from me and I couldn’t just take it and leave. I could barely understand what she was saying and didn’t know how to make it clear why I didn’t have this form. At one point I asked her if I needed this form to take my suitcase and she said yes. So I figured I came all this way and was going to leave with nothing. Then she gave me a piece of paper and dictated to me what to write about my reasons for not having the form.
After that I figured I wasn’t taking my suitcase so I took my documents and got up to leave. As I was going, both women called me back and told me to take my suitcase. I was baffled. They asked me if I thought they wouldn’t let me take it. I said yes, of course that’s what I thought. After all, they had just told me I couldn’t take it. But they just smiled at me and told me I could take it.
So that’s what I did. Then I caught the train back to Moscow, the metro to the bus station and a bus home. My suitcase was in one piece and none of the contents were missing. I still don’t know what happened. Perhaps I misunderstood them completely or they were playing a cruel joke on me. But in the end I triumphed and now have my suitcase back. What an experience! After today I feel like I can do anything and such obstacles only make me stronger.