In Accessible Transportation, Accessible Travel, News & Blog

When former photo-journalist and stroke-survivor Dannielle Hayes returned to Mexico on vacation she expected heat and bugs, not to be treated like a queen. 

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Dannielle (centre) soaking up the sun with her family.

My daughter and family invited me to join them for spring break at an accessible hotel near Cancun Mexico, the luxurious Nizuc. Having travelled to the Mayan peninsula before as an able-bodied photo-journalist, I knew that peninsula sits on a giant limestone shelf, some areas at sea level and some below. I also knew it was going to be very hot and quite buggy.

My mother had developed an immunity to bee stings and mosquitoes when as a child she innocently peed on a bee’s nest. She went screaming from the woods with her bloomers full of bees and couldn’t sit down on her stung bum for quite awhile. However, I am a tasty morsel especially for mosquitoes.

“Having travelled to the Mayan peninsula before as an able-bodied photo-journalist, I knew that peninsula sits on a giant limestone shelf, some areas at sea level and some below. I also knew it was going to be very hot and quite buggy.”

In preparation for my trip to Mexico I went to Finlandia on Broadway to buy some deet-free mosquito repellant called BUGGER OFF. A tall young man who worked in the store approached and asked if he could help me. I said with a straight face, “Bugger Off”.

He said, “Sorry?” Canadians are always apologizing, but to save further embarrassment and confusion, I said, “I need some Bugger Off Mosquito Repellant. You have it advertised outside your store.”

“Ahh,” he replied laughing. Health Canada has since forced them to take out the citronella ingredient and they have renamed it Outdoor spray. How boring.

So, armed with my bugger off, sun screen, light bright clothing, bathing suit, big hat, and sun glasses, this wheelchair gal arrived at the Cancun airport ready to be indulgent, Mexican style. It was a far cry from my first trip to Mexico back in the 1960’s when one could rent a hammock on the beach for a dollar, hitch a ride in the back of a pick-up truck and live on beer, fish and free love.

“Now I was ready to be pampered and the Hotel Nizuc did not disappoint.”

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Dannielle making her way to the pool.

Now I was ready to be pampered and the Hotel Nizuc did not disappoint. My room was spacious with a roll-out deck. Behind a pocket mirrored door there was an enormous bathroom enclosing the toilet with grab bars and easy to reach phone, closet with both upper and lower hanger rungs, roll-under sink, and step- in shower.

The king-size bed was rather difficult to climb up on but I managed to pull myself up holding onto the sheets tucked securely under the mattress. The phone, TV remote, clock and light switches were handy on a night-table next to the bed.

I had brought my own manual chair but with the intense heat, the pneumatic tires went flat so I used a wheelchair that the resort provided. The Nizuc is quite spread out, so to go to the restaurants, pool and beach, we just boarded an electric trolley and loaded on the wheelchair.

The pool was up a ramp that had shallow steps up the concrete, a little too high to get the wheelchair up and down so a few of the young strong staff just picked me up in my chair and carried me up to the pool level. After the first day they were ready and waiting to carry me up calling me “La Reina” (the Queen). The more muscular Mexicans would flex their biceps, which I would squeeze and say, “Muchas frijoles” (lots of beans). One skinny guy approached not wanting to miss out on the action and when I squeezed his arm I said, “Mas frijoles” (more beans).

He picked up one side of my chair anyway to prove his strength not only to his macho friends but also to me, La Reina.

DANIELLE'S TRAVEL TIPS

Don’t wear black or dark colors. Mosquitoes love dark, warm places.

 

Avoid going out at dusk, peek time for mosquitoes.

 

Avoid wearing heavy, sweet perfume that attracts mosquitoes.

 

Mosquitoes don’t like lavender so dab a little lavender essential oil on instead. Of course, you can also spray on a little Bugger Off but keep it away from your eyes.

 

Wear light-colored, loose clothing and apply plenty of sunscreen on exposed areas during the day.

 

Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks.

Want to share your own Adventure with SCI? Email mpankalla@sci-bc.ca.

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