You've heard it from the time you were old enough to travel: Always take a carry-on with a change of clothes. That way if the airline loses your luggage you'll be ok for a while.
A wise dictum, and one DIH has always followed.
Except this last time. All I had in my carry-on was my laptop.
And this time I paid the price.
There's nothing quite like that sinking feeling you get when you've been standing by the luggage carosel in a strange airport, watching those few forlorn remaining suitcases going round and round, knowing that none of them is yours and no more luggage is coming down the chute. It's a sad feeling. A feeling of loss and loneliness, which when combined with jet lag and fury at the airline for losing your stuff makes for a bad moment at the airport.
As it turned out I was not alone in my loss. Ten of our party were luggage-less. Including, of course, the bar mitzvah boy, the bat mitzvah girl and their mother.
No matter, we said, they'll turn up tomorrow. Besides we're staying at a really nice hotel. They'll have whatever we need.
Surprise #1: this very nice hotel had no shops.
Surprise #2: if you ask an Israeli hotel clerk if the hotel has any toothbrushes and he says "Yes, we do," he thinks the conversation is over. You have to complete the thought. "Well could I have one, please?" Then he will think about it.
Surprise #3: Luggage did not arrive the next day, or the next, or even the next. Lesson learned: when you've been wearing the same socks and underwear for five days, it doesn't matter how many stars the hotel has. It feels like a campsite.
Finally our luggage turned up, or some of it. Whose was still missing? Why, the b'nai mitzvah group's of course. They had to find a Gap store in the Old City of Jerusalem just to have something decent to wear to the ceremony. Luckily there was one a couple of blocks away from the hotel.
The hardest part from me was looking longingly at the heated swimming pool, which was right outside our room. I kept thinking how nice it would be to stretch my travel-cramped muscles out with a swim. But here's another lesson I've learned form travel: buying a bathing suit while on the road is usually a losing proposition. You overpay for the damn thing and then when you get it home you wonder what you could possible have been thinking when you bought it. (The answer is: Oh, well, no one I know will ever see me in this thing.)