When I interviewed Deborah Davis for New Mobility’s Person of the Year profile, she was about to leave for Belize — yet another travel adventure for this dynamic, daring woman.
If you’re like me and have no clue where Belize is located, here’s what I learned: The country is on the northeastern coast of Central America bordered by Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea. Certainly not a weekend getaway!
Davis discovered that the country is a very difficult place for vacationing wheelers to negotiate.
“Belize is becoming a major destination for retirees, and investors are driving rapid development … but it is missing the boat by excluding (outright and blatantly) anyone with a mobility impairment that does not have a full entourage to lift them into tubs, planes, and automobiles,” she writes on her Travability website.
Davis did extensive online research to find accessible places to stay, eat and ways to experience the jungle-heavy land. But even with all that planning, she was still faced with what some might consider insurmountable barriers once she landed.
“The one thing I learned in Belize,” she writes, “is regardless of how intentionally or unintentionally inaccessible and excluding the country is, they are some of the most helpful, willing and friendly people I have ever had the pleasure of overcoming ‘challenges’ with. There was nothing that was impossible to them. Literally nothing was refused.” For this intrepid traveler, that included being pulled in and out of boats, having her wheelchair held overhead and walked from ocean to island, and a private snorkel guide.
Perhaps, most incredibly, she “had three of the strongest, most fit men literally mule carry me up a forest mountain and attach me to not one, but eight zip line platforms and take me tandem through the longest zip line in all of Belize.” Unbelievable!
Because so many of us face barriers in our everyday lives, we might prefer that our vacations be as smooth as possible (pardon the pun). But Davis’ adventures in Belize reminds me that being open to risks — she knew Belize wasn’t going to be easy — can lead to exciting adventures.
Have you taken a risk that paid off while traveling? Let’s hear about it!