By Antonio Andrés Pitura (META Nicaragua)
My international experiences as a META member help me expand my horizons in exciting ways. I have been through a lot since I last rode New York streets with a Mobility Scooter. I am more and more autonomous, and I am very proud of myself. For the first time now, I travelled to another country without a relative coming with me!
The last time I travelled representing META, I did so with my sister Xaviera. She helped me get dressed in the morning, and made sure I was not late for my appointments. Although she did a great job and was of great help, when the trip ended we agreed that I could have managed alone, and that maybe the next time I should. So I decided to take on the challenge.
My family was a bit nervous, and we took some measures to make sure everything was OK. In the end, I only needed help checking in and packing, and the rest was done. I do admit I had to practice all week to put on my socks on my own- ¡one more conquest!
Without my family… but not alone
I still celebrate this big step for my autonomy. However, I didn’t travel completely alone, I did so with my partner from META Nicaragua, Anielka Palma. Anielka is our groups’ coordinator, she is almost completely blind and she had already travelled abroad on her own. We supported each other: I guided her, and she carried our stuff.
The people at the airport were really kind to us. The stewardess came and read the emergency instructions for us, making sure that Ani touched the oxygen masks and life vests, and knew how to use them. Other passenger offered to complete our flight forms (I would, but my handwriting is awful)… and I made sure to describe all the ilustrations on the security guide.
“And the boy… what does he have?”
While we were still in Nicaragua, the man pushing my wheelchair asked my mum EVERYTHING: “And the boy… what does he have? How can I help him? What do I do?” That made me a little uncomfortable, of course, but as soon as I was left alone with the man, I set it clear for him: “Sir, you can ask me anything you want to know”. It worked! The man started talking to me. The only problem was when Ani joined us, he started asking me about her: “Boy… and what does SHE have?”…
I strongly recommend to travel in pairs. I think it was very useful for Anielka and me. I just want to apologize to the gentleman sitting beside us during the flight: we drove him crazy with all our talking!
At the airport, I saw a dream come true: someone was waiting for me with a sign with my name on it – I felt very important. But that was nothing compared with what awaited me at the hotel.
The hotel staff was super kind and helped me every time I asked for it. I also loved my room. The bed and the furniture were at the perfect distance, so I could walk around by grabbing them, and the shower had a stool, so I could take a shower very comfortably. Even without support, I was ready on time every morning and I was early to our activities (without mentioning one day, when I got to the meeting wearing socks and I had to put on my shoes there).
During the whole trip I had to move, sit and stand many times. Sometimes I could manage to do it alone, but others I needed help and we had to get creative with different ways in which to stand up.
Autonomy needs patience and creativity! I thank META for encouraging us to be self-sufficient, for giving me friends and also necessary adjustments, and for celebrating and encouraging my achievements.