Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
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.