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PROMPTuesday #52: Craziest Travel Adventure

April 20th, 2009

Have I done this one before? I’m way too tied up with my soy taquitos to check. Also, The Rock has raging infections in both eyes and I’m trying to nurse him back to health by sitting way over here at the kitchen table while berating him to wash his hands and not fling bacteria in my general direction.

 

So this PROMPT comes from Bridget, who answered my Twitter plea for a creative idea since as I mentioned, I am fresh out of ideas due to my diligent and loving care of my husband who I am avoiding at all costs.

 

And Bridget’s prompt is:

 

“What is your craziest travel adventure?”

 

Of course, you can make something up because that’s how we roll, but I’d sure love to hear some real stories, too.

 

Meanwhile, for any new readers, PROMPTuesday is a once-a-week deal where I issue a creative writing prompt and hope that people take it and run. PROMPTuesday submissions appear in the comment box below the PROMPT post for all to read.

 

To read PROMPTuesdays gone by, please click here.

 

P.S. Would you say a prayer or burn some offerings for The Rock? I really am quite worried about him.

 

On April 20th, 2009, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

I would have answered your Twitter plea, but there are so many strangers following me I’ve gone into hiding.

On April 21st, 2009, DaGoddess.com » PROMPTuesday #52 - Flying the Friendly Skies said:

[…] all part of Debbie’s devious plan, I can assure you. Really. She made me do […]

On April 21st, 2009, Da Goddess said:

And here I was, thinking you were going to use my caboose as your inspiration. Harrumph! I see how you are.

Hope the Rock feels better soon. Tell him to stop playing with the girls’ Barbies and the eyes should clear up quickly.

On April 21st, 2009, Bridget Smith said:

Well, I came up with the thing…better kick it off! Nowadays I’m attempting to source of wisdom on all things family travel, but this adventure came long before kids.

I was in college, planning spring break with one of my fellow exchange students. We were in Chile and plannning to visit Parguay and Iguazu Argentina. For those of you who don’t know, Iguazu is a gorgeous waterfall on the border between Argentina and Brazil.

We decided to cover our bases and obtain visas for Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. Only problem was the Brazilian consulate was closed for a national holiday not recognized in Chile.

No worries, we decided to skip Brazil, take the bus directly from Paraguay to Argentina, and enjoy our trip.

Only problem is, the bus stopped late at night at the bus Station in Foz de Iguazu and didn’t plan to go any further. We were in Brazil without Brazilian money and without a visa (The Brazilians are tough about this. If you get caught it involves major bribes or so I’ve heard). It was dark in a really rough part of town.

The bus driver luckily spoke Spanish. He took pity on us and drove us to the bus driver hotel. We stayed there and had the hotel clerk who also spoke a wee bit of Spanish order us a pizza. It arrived missing many pieces. Were they eaten by the delivery guy? Who knows?

The next day we set out to complete our journey. We tried to take a bus, but there was a bus strike. Busses and cabs kept racing by us until a hotel bus driver with Spanish ancestry took pity on us.

He took us to the border and got us a cab with a very sleazy cab driver who tried to hit on us through this middle aged spinster passenger interpreter all the way to Argentina.

Loved the falls. Want to return with family or at least my husband some day. Am determined to have my papers this time and perhaps an English/Portuguese dictonary!

On April 21st, 2009, Wade Nash (Paul) said:

I like your post, bridget! I remember being stuck in a train station in a remote mountain pass in Romania one evening with no visa, no Romania money, and no heating in the train station. I know that helpless feeling that you are describing in your post. Good work!

On April 21st, 2009, Wade Nash (Paul) said:

Please Read my Prompt Tuesday entry by clicking on this URL:

http://paulrwade.blogspot.com

Thanks! :)

On April 21st, 2009, Wade Nash (Paul) said:

I was on my way to NYC to fly out of JFK to Prague. To make the trip more enjoyable, my friends, David and Ray, and I were driving across country — stopping in Albuquerque, New Orleans, and New Jersey before I was to meet my sister in Albany just days before my flight to Prague.

Whereas my arrangements had placed us with friends in New Orleans, my friend David’s girlfriend Ray had arranged for our accommodations in New Jersey. It was on the Jersey shore with an old friend of Ray’s mother, a woman named Pat, who met us graciously and took her into her home. She had hot pastrami sandwiches awaiting us — and good spicy brown mustard. Her condo had rust-colored shag rug — and 1980s furnishings — but her view across the highway to the shore was stunning. She had prepared clean sheets on the fold-out bed for me in the living room. My friends stayed in the back room by themselves.

We were exhausted from our drive, but I had some difficulty falling asleep. Pat sat not far from me in the kitchen with the light on, smoking cigarettes and coughing, and doing a crossword puzzle. I remember thinking that she was coughing very hard. I popped half a Xanax, as was my custom to fall asleep in a strange locale, and drifted off.

That evening, I was awakened by my friends’ crys to call 911. I thought I was dreaming, but it was a different kind of nightmare. Pat had coughed so hard during the night, she had burst a vein in a lung tumor. She was able to rouse my friends from the back bedroom, make the international sign of choking, before running into the bathroom and collapsing on the bathroom floor, where she bled out, entirely, through the mouth, covering the entire floor with the majority of her blood.

“Don’t come in here,” David yelled to me in the hallway. “You are not going to want to see this. Trust me.” To this day, I owe David a debt of gratitude that I don’t have that memory etched into my brain.

What I hadn’t been told is that Pat was a New Jersey Police Detective who had recently retired after putting away some mobsters. When her fellow police officers arrived on the scene and saw Pat in a huge pool of blood on the bathroom floor, and three strangers in the house, it was a no- brainer to interrogate us.

We were separated by the police officers while forensic specialists examined the Pat’s corpse. As the sun came up over the Jersey Shore, I was asked repeatedly about why I was in the house (just to crash, I said) and how I knew Pat (I didn’t, I said), and what I did to Pat (I ate a sandwich with her and wished her good night, I said). Luckily, I was still slighly high on Xanax.

Within the hour, Pat’s doctor was summoned. He told the detectives that Pat had terminal lung cancer. She knew that she could succumb to the disease at any time. She chose to take us in and give us a place to stay, taking a chance that she would be fine during the 12 hours of our stay. What she didn’t know is that we would arrive just hours from her imminent death.

In many ways I’m glad I was there for Pat’s death. Oddly enough, not only was it exciting to be interrogated for Murder, but I found out later that my friends were there at Pat’s side, holding her hand, and easing her fear as she left this life into the great unknown.

We all had separate plane tickets, so I left David and Ray behind that morning and drove to Albany, as was our plan.

Ray naturally was depressed by all of this. When I next saw her, in Prague, she was clearly shaken by Pat’s death. This, however, was my post-divorce, never-been-to-Europe trip, and so, perhaps selfishly, I resolved to leave the both of them. I arranged to meet them in Warsaw . . . and then reversed direction and instead journeyed southeast by myself through Hungary and Romania and Bulgaria into Turkey, traveling with whomever I would meet in the local pensions who were heading my direction. It turned out to be the trip of a lifetime and I met many friends from many far-flung places: Australians, Irish, Chileans, Kiwi’s . . . and without Pat’s death, I would never have made the decision to travel on my own. Traveling on my own became a liberating experience that has changed me profoundly to this day and given me a boost of self confidence in traveling, life in general, meeting new people, experiencing new things/places and personal relationships.

—-

After a seven year break in our friendship, I recently met up again with my old travel companion David. David had just exited a rehab program for heroin users — and became employed by the Seattle needle-exchange program. After an accident left him with a broken leg, he moved back to San Diego, and found me. We met up at a local museum for a special event, had a cocktail or two, and started talking about the old days . . . our college days at Pt. Loma College, old friends, and our Eastern European trip. Ray had never quite gotten over the death of Pat, he told me. She fell into a depression that trip that caused their relationship some problems, and once they returned to Seattle, she shortly left David for another man. She got pregnant, and had a little girl with the new boyfriend, which was enough closure for David to move on.

——–

“Ray is dead,” David told me recently. His lips tremored. “Her boyfriend shot her.”

He explained that both Ray and the little girl were shot in a murder-suicide by the depressed boyfriend one rainy Seattle day.

——–

I have a photo of us three that I put on my website back in 1996, shortly after returning from the trip. Here’s a photo of us three on a roadside stop in Baton Rouge, LA. I’m kneeling in the middle. Ray is on the right.

http://www.paulwade.com/travel/new-orleans/images/no_three.jpg

Ray had such beautiful red hair and such a wonderful singing voice.

I look at this photo now, and think about the little decisions in life that can change a lifetime: The decision to crash at Pat’s place, my choice to travel through Europe alone, Ray leaving David for another man.

Those little details of life, those “sliding doors,” they always make all the difference.

— Wade Nash
(San Diego, CA. 4/21/09)

On April 21st, 2009, Bridget Smith said:

Wow Wade! That’s a profound story. Funny the roads life takes us.

On April 21st, 2009, Bridget Smith said:

P.S. I will say a prayer for your friends Ray and David tonight.

On April 21st, 2009, San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » Rite of Passage said:

[…] don’t know that this qualifies as a travel adventure per se, but I was in another country when it happened, so I’m going with […]

On April 22nd, 2009, g said:

Ok, I totally cheated. I read the prompt, started something, hated it, and went to bed. Then I woke up at 2 a.m. and knew what I wanted to write. So here it is:

w w w. d o v e s 2 d a y. b l o g s p o t. c o m

(Deb I tried to post a link and my first post disappeared into thin air. This sometimes happens when I post a link. So hope this works.)

On April 22nd, 2009, g said:

Wow, Paul, what an incredible story. Amazing, and sad, and beautiful. Bridget, your story is wonderful, too, a rite of passage filled with suspense and humor.

On April 22nd, 2009, San Diego Momma said:

Such good stories. Bridget! Wow. I had a somewhat similar experience, but it was in Dallas, so not the same at all.

And Paul, holy jeez. What a story. Absolutely terrific and heartbreaking and life-affirming.

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