Saturday, February 28, 2009

The irony of travelling in a wheelchair is enormous. For background info, I have landed in Sevilla Spain for about 7 months for my university's study abroad. I am living in a beautiully uaint apartment in the old Jewish quarter of Sevilla, one of the most picturesque spots in Spain i imagine. But back to the irony of disabled travel... So as followers of my blog know, I have climbed (on the back of a man) to 6000 some-odd meters in Nepal's himilayas, yet today in Spain i was not allowed to board a train. I have chosen my words carefully as I could have boarded the train physically with some help, as I have done frequently in Costa Rica, Peru, Nepal, Germany ... among other countries, yet was not allowed to because the conducter did not want to have me on the train, it was too much trouble. I was dumbfounded, ticket in my hand, paid for in full, on the platform with a small step between me and the train, and I was not allowed to board. I thought about making a run for it, hoping velocity would get me over the step, or punching the conductor, both i reasoned would end badly. The agent for 'Servicios especiales' (special needs services) looking pathetically lazy, repeated over and over that because their was no platform for the wheelchair the conductor did not want to have me on the train. So my spanish is adaquet enough to get the necessary information accross and I repeated in response that 'with help i xcould walk on the train and the chair could go in cargo or at least where the bicicles go. Well each time I said something, the conductor shook his head and feverently said i cannot travel on his train. After an exasperating 20 minutes i watched the train leave, feeling thoroughly pissed off, I headed to the elevator. The conducor proceeded to give me his recomendation, that i should travel with an 'companero', now it is very important to emphasise the masculine form of this word as in spanish you have the option of referring to nouns in feminine or masculine. What the conductor meant was i really should travel with male accompaniment. It was then that i realised my wheelchair was not the issue it was my vagina. So as i have learned repeatedly being a woman in this world has turned out to be a far greater disability than my actual disability. So after saying "Gracias culo', Thank you asshole, (must admit not my finest buddha moment) I went up to the sales office to be reimbursed. There was no sign that there was anything wrong in not allowing a passanger on the train, this was normal and in someway my fault as i travel alone and really should know better as to travel with a man.
So Spain... beautiful, laidback, and completely accessible if your with a man.

Will relay more adventures muy pronto!
Besitos de Espana!


Blogger Emma Smith said...

You need to come to Germany. All you would have needed to do was ask for his denial to let you board the train "schriftlich" or in writing. Guy would have shit his pants and lifted you onto the train himself...the Germans fear of laywers is useful and at the same time impressive...Hope you 'accidently' rammed him in the shins with you wheelchair, that damned spastic acting up again :) lots of love from your politically incorrect sister in BURRRRlin.

1:43 PM  

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