why you shouldn't put meat in your suitcase

When traveling back and forth from Nigeria, my friend L describes us as gypsies.  We usually pack at least one large empty suitcase to fill with food from home; this time we checked a 70-lb suitcase full of food and three 25-lb boxes full of frozen meat.  A few days before we left Des Moines, my mom took Joey and me to Costco (thanks for the access, Mom), and we spent almost $500 on beef, chicken sausages (you know the kind, with the gouda in the middle), and cheese.  Then we spent the rest of the afternoon in an assembly line with Mom's vacuum sealer and the meat, before stuffing it in my parents' extra freezer.  About an hour before we left for the airport and our long flight back to Abuja, Joey and my dad filled three large, cardboard and styrofoam coolers with our frozen bounty and we all crossed our fingers.

Fast-forward 27 hours, and I'm standing in the midst of the chaos that is the luggage conveyor belt in the Abuja airport.  As I watch the same bags go round and round the feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I wait for my checked bags sinks deeper and deeper - then one of the airport workers looks at me and tells me to talk to customer service (he probably singled me out by my shirt).  Sure enough, our worst fears are confirmed: all of our luggage, including 75 lbs of now less-than-frozen meat, is still in Amsterdam, and the next flight to Abuja isn't for 2 days.

Believe it or not, when our luggage arrived two days later, two of the three boxes were still cold.  The third box was room temperature and you'd better believe we we're still eating the chicken sausages, cheese and bacon that were in there.  My large, pink suitcase didn't fare quite so well - it was delivered with a huge crack in the hard shell - and Joey's didn't come at all (we got it the next day) - but we got our meat and 15,000 extra miles from Delta - what more could you want?