The Mystery of the Brown Goo: A New Zealand Suitcase Caper

When our bags came off the plane in Auckland, one of them had a putrid smelling Korean sauce with the consistency of jelly spilled on it. The brown sauce covered about six square inches with a spicy-smelling stain. It stank, and we had no idea where it came from. People aren’t supposed to bring food into New Zealand; it’s a huge deal. If the food isn’t declared or disposed of, you could face a $400 NZ fine. We got rid of our food in Seoul.

I supposed that the sauce could’ve come from the plane’s own stock, but Jenya wanted to know why they would store it with the luggage. With no answers, and unwilling to fill out any more forms, we took the protective cover off our suitcase, which featured a cat peaking out of a hole in jean material, and threw it away. We used wet wipes and damp paper towels to clean the suitcase and get rid of the residue of the sauce that had strained through the protective cover. It did nothing to get rid of the smell.

When we got to the hotel, I put the suitcase in the shower and scrubbed it with bar soap. That didn’t work, so I tried the hotel shampoo. That didn’t work either. I went back and forth between the two; then I put the suitcase next to the toilet to dry and went to bed. Our hotel rooms smelled like the sauce for our entire trip, but the stench did diminish over time.


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