Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    Posted by duxinco on January 11, 2020 at 6:38 am

    Well, for kicks I decided to take my family, including our multiply, profoundly disabled love of my life (my youngest child who is 13.5 years-old), down to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for the winter (xmas / new year) holidays.

    As always I did copious research, including contacting the PV official Office of Tourism — I speak Spanish — and I was told in no uncertain terms “We LOVE people with disabilities! Of course PV is ready for wheelchairs.” Etc. Now, I did take it with a bit of a grain of salt because many (most) of the streets are cobblestones, which can be b-u-m-p-y (not to say my kiddo’s Sensory System doesn’t enjoy that proprioceptive input!).

    The trip nearly kicked my husband’s and my rears (not sure if I can swear on this forum). Admittedly, our sweet Little Angel became violently ill xmas night, and then my husband the following afternoon, and my eldest child the next evening. We were careful but who knows. It was horrible, especially for our youngest as he is Profoundly I/DD (Intellectually / Developmentally Disabled) so he is unable to even understand the feeling of “I’m going to barf” or “my butt is about to blow.” So he had projectile vomit in the hotel room, and his diarrhea leaked out of his diaper. (About every seven steps [I exaggerate] there are pharmacies and convenience stores  [OXXO], so electrolytes are readily available. I was able to give my child small amounts ’round the clock via his g-tube, and his dad and brother were able to drink theirs.)

    But that isn’t the point. There ARE cut-outs on almost every street corner, but they are bananas steep — to push our son into a crosswalk we often brought him down backward (it was too steep to push him down forward). Many, many blocks would have a random step or two (or five) in the middle of the block. My husband prefers pushing our son and at one point he was about apoplectic with these steps, and we’re not even talking the hilly part of town!

    Our child’s travel w/c is ~24lbs and our kiddo (who lost over 6lbs from this sickness, and he is already a skinny kid)is ~80lbs; luckily our eldest (15 years-old) is strong and willing to help, so we each would catch one of the front legs of the w/c to lift up / down as my husband managed the back. When my husband and eldest were off ziplining I just called out to folks nearby to come help me (always in Spanish); once a German couple came to help and another time a French Canadian couple.

    But the Mexicans were, hmm, not super jazzed about coming to help us. ??? If I were asking for directions they would chat chat chat with me, but interestingly in a Catholic country not really interested in / wanting to help.

    In our time there we only encountered one other person on wheels, and it was an older American man on a scooter who could stand and walk; we saw him a few times, only on the Malecon (beachfront boardwalk) though, never in town.

    Let’s say some of the restaus / cafes we went to were “Accessible,” but only in that they had a smooth entrance from the sidewalk. But the (expensive) restau where we ate on xmas night (La Palapa) *does* have a(n obscured) ramp into the restau from the sidewalk and does have some tables on that level, but to get to the sidewalk in the first place you have to be lifted up from the (cobblestone) street. So …. Now, La Palapa was so kind — our child had a pretty big seizure during our dinner and the waitstaff were all very concerned, asking what they could do to help. (My child badly bit through a finger during said seizure so when I asked for a pair of scissors [to cut the emergency dressing I always carry] they were FAST. That’s one of my favorite memories of Mexicans from the trip. The Mexicans fawned all over very blonde, gregarious, Spanish-speaking me and my Spanish-speaking 15 year-old, but it always means the most to me when I see people be kind to my youngest.

    We will never return to PV, and that’s fine, and I could never, ever recommend it to anyone in a w/c.

    Seriously, on the flight home (to the US) my husband and I were saying to each other “maybe we’re done traveling for a while.” (Except, shoot!, for the upcoming trips for which I’ve already paid,so we’re going.) We both wanted a hot beverage and a nap. PV kicked us, hard.

    Emma replied 3 years, 8 months ago 3 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • Josh Grisdale

    January 12, 2020 at 12:16 am

    Ohhhh nooooo! Being sick while traveling is the WORST!

    Were there accessible public toilets available?

    I’m sure swearing is fine – certainly seams appropriate for what happened!

  • duxinco

    January 12, 2020 at 3:53 am

    You know, I do not recall ever seeing a public restroom (in the Zona Romantica and Centro), and I never used a bathroom beside our hotel (which has ZERO rooms designed to be Accessible). My husband and eldest who did use bathrooms while we were out said the ONLY handicapped Accessible stall they saw was in the airport — none of the restaus offered Accessible facilities.

    We stayed in a nice hotel (Los Arcos Suites) in Zona Romantica (and we were shocked how kinda dumpy it is — when we entered my husband and I said “we could totally go for a Marriott about now”) and it does not have rooms designed for any kind of disabilities. They do have three ground-floor suites (we stayed in their largest), and that was convenient. They do have an elevator but it doesn’t access all the floors. Closer to the airport are some big resorts (and a bunch of enormous resorts are about 45 minutes – 1 hour north on the Bay) and they might have Accessible rooms. That wasn’t an option for us as we like to stay right in the thick of things, and staying in those all-inclusives is a) not us and b) would’ve required a taxi to get down to the historic parts. However, if someone really wants to go to PV that might be the thing to do: stay in one of those and take occasional day trips into Centro and Zona Romantica.

    But I just want to share with others here how difficult we found Puerto Vallarta, and in a way we have it a bit easier (in a horrible way) because of the profundity of our Angel’s I/DD has resulted in bladder / bowel incontinence which puts him in a diaper we parents take care of, just like an infant. So we never have to worry about Accessible toilets / bathing / sinks. There are tons of airbnbs / vrbos there in PV, but I have no idea about their bathrooms, of course.

    It’s been years (maybe nine) since we went to the Mayan Riviera but I suspect it (Cancun – south, maybe not Tulum, though) is MUCH more Accessible. I know the Coba and Chichen Itza complexes are wheelchair Accessible (though have no clue about toilets). 

    I LOVE the Mexican history, handicrafts, culture(s), so this trip doubly (triply?) bummed me out. I don’t want to dissuade anyone from going, but I do want others to be a bit more prepared than we were: many, many blocks had steps in the sidewalk, insanely angled ramps, and a culture which isn’t as helpful as one would hope (given the physical impediments). But if others do go and either rent a condo in Centro / ZR or stay in one of the humongous resorts, please do share your experiences there!

    • Emma

      October 22, 2020 at 6:45 am

      My family and I went to Mazatlan last year, our kid loved the beach though it didn’t have any accessible facilities. People were very nice. We come every often, we love it!

      We got told that this year they would have an inclusive beach, we are looking foward to it!

  • Josh Grisdale

    January 17, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    Thanks for the reply.  Surprised to hear Chichen Itza is accessible!

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