Written on 31 October 2018
I’ve had to say goodbye to my loyal travel companion of many years.
We had a great relationship that had spanned four years and a bit more, until the bandicoot-size rats at 5 Mile in Port Moresby took a huge bite at the top of the suitcase, leaving a large crater near the zipper pull. I cursed the rats that did this and went to Stop N Shop that evening to buy rat poison.
The old steel blue Caribee suitcase was not just a travel companion. It had character. It had so many wonderful and equally horror tales to tell like the time it was pushed and shoved by tourists at the Ladies Night Market in Hong Kong.
The faithful Caribee is to me what a blanket is to a baby. It gave me comfort. We understood each other. By lifting the suitcase lightly, I could guesstimate 30 kg (my personal max limit) without using a portable luggage scale to avoid paying excess charges. The limit weight on Air Niugini’s international travel anywhere from Australia to Port Moresby on a direct flight is 35 kg for economy class.
The Caribee gave me a warm sense of satisfaction. I knew my shopping bags from H&M, new heels, little gifts for special people and souveniors were safe and sound. There was a certain level of joy and satisfaction after I zipped and locked the suitcase. I knew my items would be safe. The hard shell casing and sides absorbed the impact from knocks and bumps. It was also water resistant.
On that occasion at the night market in Mong Kok in Hong Kong, I maneuvered my faithful companion through crowds of tourists and it stood by my side and waited for me like a faithful dog while I haggled over prices for a couple of souvenior fridge magnets that I wanted to add to my growing collection.
I had come prepared to the night market. I had worn my best bargaining act and I told myself I was there to win bargains which was why I brought the blue Caribee to take in my prized winnings.
Tugging the suitcase through the streets of Hong Kong left light scratch marks at the bottom of the suitcase. The marks remain to tell a story of its travel adventures in the streets and on the trains in Hong Kong.
I first met my companion in 2014 at Gabaka Street, Gordons in Port Moresby. I fell in love with the steel blue colour straight away as it sat there at the corner near the doorway at the NGF store. ‘It will be so easy now to spot my luggage from the popular black luggage bags on a luggage carousel,” I thought to myself as I inspected the tag. I pressed the cover. It had a hard case. Perfect! I paid K250 and a bit more for the Australian brand – and thus our relationship and journey began.
One day, the Caribee travelled with me to Cairns in Australia for work for two weeks. I was a lone passenger on the Far North Queensland airport transfer service line that picked me up at the airport. The female driver was nice to my suitcase, had picked up the Caribee and placed it gently in the cargo carriage that was hauled to the back of the bus.
When we arrived at the apartment, I opened the suitcase and took out the few clothes and toiletries that I had packed and laid them out. I emptied out the suitcase and carefully dusted the insides then I wiped down the suitcase and placed it on two folding chairs on the balcony for it to dry and get some sun and fresh air.
A Woolworths store was across the apartment. I crossed the road and went grocery shopping for the two weeks I was going to be there.
I took my time walking between the aisles and selected my supply of essentials for two weeks. Marinades, spices and sauces from the Masterfoods range were on the weekly specials for $2.50. They normally cost a bit more than K12 at home. I told myself I was going to do some serious marinade, sauces and spices shopping to bring back home with me.
My Caribee remembers the countless times it has had to carefully hold olive oils, Nobby’s salted peanuts, chips and chocolates for the kiddies’ treasure hunt parties, almond and Brazilian nuts and the 5 litres of liquid laundry detergent that cost $3 at the Reject Store on my travels to Australia. These items were a regular in my suitcase. And each time, the Caribee would take them to Port Moresby safely, without any casualties.
After my short work stint in Cairns, I packed the suitcase with red wine and garlic marinade, smoking barbecue marinade, olive oil with infused garlic, teriyaki marinade, hoi sin sauce, chicken seasoning, garlic and herb salt and fish sauce and brought them home with me to Port Moresby.
In 2016, the steel blue Caribee touched down at Wellington Airport, New Zealand, at midnight. The cold ‘Windy Welly’ winds were harsh. After going through Customs and Immigration, we were reunited and I opened the suitcase to get out a thick sweater and beanie to keep warm. We stayed in a 4-star hotel in Wellington for a week.
My companion, the Caribee has travelled with me to many places including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.
It was a stressful moment for me when I prepared to travel to the USA recently. I needed a replacement for the blue Caribee. I went online searching for a suitcase just like my old steel blue Caribee.
I remember walking through a luggage store in West End, Brisbane and carefully inspected the suitcases. I looked at the Caribee brands but could not see anything like my blue companion. “They don’t make them like my steel blue friend anymore, “I thought to myself, disappointed.
After spending close to an hour at the luggage store, I decided to buy a French brand – Delsey. I had to choose between black, cobalt blue and light wine red colours. I settled for the light wine red colour. There was an air of elegance around my new buy – after all, it is a French brand!
I glanced at the suitcase after I made payment and smiled. The new Delsey suitcase had large shoes to fill.