I need to tell you something, but I’ve been unsure how to do it, so I put it off for a long time. It requires delicacy and tact, which are not always my forte.
The Roommate Agreement came to an unfortunate, abrupt end in Iguazu Falls. For the record, we didn’t get into a fight where somebody pitched over the falls. It was not due to some intolerable shower-singing incident or horrendous breach of swimsuit photography etiquette. It was far more serious than that.
Roseitta nearly didn’t come on the trip at all, even though it was her idea. Her father was hospitalized days before we were due to depart and she debated cancelling and staying home. It was a complicated, agonizing decision, but her family encouraged her to go ahead with the trip, and she did. We had both purchased trip cancellation and interruption insurance when we booked because none of our parents are spring chickens anymore, and on top of that you never know what’s going to transpire in your life when you book a trip nearly a year in advance.
We had a great week in Los Angeles, and there are many more tales of our adventures yet to come. Then we joined our tour group to begin our South American adventure. Rio was grand, from there we continued on to Iguazu. It was a long travel day, and when we got to the hotel, there was just enough time for a welcome drink (caipirinhas, naturally!) before dinner, which was a drawn-out buffet affair.
When we returned to our room, Roseitta called home to check in with her family as she had been doing regularly since we left. This time the tone of the conversation suddenly became grave. I moved to leave the room, but she motioned for me to stay. Instead, I tried to give her space by focusing on my work on the computer. It was obvious from her reaction to the phone call that things had taken a very bad turn. Eventually she explained that the doctors were now saying that her father’s prognosis had deteriorated dramatically and they no longer expected him to survive until we returned from Easter Island in nearly three weeks’ time. She stoically announced that she would need to go home as soon as possible.
It was already very late by this point, but we stayed up searching flight options. Every other gesture I could think to offer felt useless, so I handed over my computer for her to use. I suggested we call our tour director and let her handle the arrangements, but Roseitta didn’t want to bother her so late, and in hindsight I think she needed to work through things on her own first.
The next day Roseitta explained the situation to the tour leader and tour director at breakfast and the wheels were put in motion for her return home. There was nothing else to do at this point but continue with the day’s activities and hope for the best. Soon we were crossing the border into Argentina to see that side of the falls first. Iguazu Falls is astounding. It makes Niagara seem like Amateur hour, and I will definitely post about it at a later date. We were allowed to wander the trails overlooking the falls at our own pace.
As our group reconvened back at the meeting point, Roseitta’s phone rang. The tour leader and I looked at each other with dread in our eyes as Roseitta answered the call. Within seconds we knew. Her dad had passed away.
Things got very emotional for awhile. Roseitta was naturally distraught, and I was hit with a barrage of different feelings at once: sorrow for her loss, frustration and disappointment that we didn’t get her home in time, a tiny bit of fear and apprehension over how I would cope continuing on without her, guilt for any part I might have played in taking her away from her family, disgust with myself for not knowing how to help my friend in her time of need, and sadness tinged with anger that the awesome trip that we’d planned was slipping away despite all the sacrifices it took to get there.
We composed ourselves and grabbed some empanadas for lunch. The arrangements for her trip home were starting to come together. In the meantime we were both a bit dazed, but tried to carry on normally. We boarded the tour bus and continued back toward Brazil and the other side of Iguazu Falls. On the way, word came through about Roseitta’s flights. She would be able to depart that afternoon. Once we crossed the border she and Marcela needed to return to the hotel to collect her things and go to the airport, so they left the bus while we continued on to see some of the most breathtaking scenery on the face of the earth.
And then she was gone.
things do change on a dime. I’m glad you went on; I wish you both could’ve.
Thanks hon. Yes, they can. I’m glad I continued as well. It helped that we had discussed different contingencies beforehand and we were both okay with the notion that if she had to go home then I would continue on with the trip. It was partly necessity as well. The insurance wouldn’t have covered me in this instance and so I would have forfeited everything I had paid for the trip as well as having to cover the costs of getting home.
Yesterday Roseitta told me that she’s glad she took the chance on the trip and she doesn’t regret going, which made me very glad indeed.
Heart breaking …
She made her own decisions Steph. Don’t take that away from her. You did all you could. I see absolutely nothing wrong with any of it. Life has a way of throwing curve balls. I was living in London England when my father was killed in Kiev Ukraine. Logistics (we are Canadian) were nightmarish. Plans fell to pieces.
In the end that is her story. You can only be a friend. You have your own story now. And you will be fine! I feel it.
Thanks Sonja. Sorry about your father. Standing by while someone is going through something like this is the hardest thing of all.
This is my biggest fear when I travel, especially on long trips far from home. I’m so sorry again for Roseitta’s loss. Sounds like you two handled this terrible situation the best you could.
Thanks Cassie. Yes, we handled it as best we could. Now that some time has passed I think we’re both doing okay. This is one instance where I’m really glad I was with a tour group. If it had been just the two of us travelling independently, I don’t think I would have been able to hack it on my own after Roseitta’s departure.
This is definitely the biggest downside to being abroad for any significant amount of time… it’s so much more likely that you’ll miss a goodbye when a loved one’s health fails. I’m glad she didn’t regret coming on the trip, after all.
Thanks Sally. Yes, it’s a worry, but so is not living your life to the full. It’s a tough dilemma, that’s for sure.
You did a great job of capturing such an emotion, intense situation. It felt like I was in the room, sensing the tension, the anticipation. My sympathies to your friend and her family.
Oh wow, thanks Vanessa. I was very uneasy about how to approach this post. I’m glad that it resonated with you.