Opportunity for travel to Mexico + injury: go or no?
July 20, 2019 5:55 PM   Subscribe

I have an RSI that, with aggressive rest, has finally begun to calm down. It doesn't take much walking to aggravate it right now. I have not been able to find wheelchair rentals in the areas we are traveling to. I can rent a wheelchair in my home city, but am not sure how the logistics of that would work out, hopping three flights. We are traveling with friends, and I am not willing to curb their activities.

I guess my question is twofold: how doable is the wheelchair rental, and how would that work? And, if I am not able to bring/get a wheelchair, is there anything I could do involving minimal walking? All I can come up with are dining out, drinking interesting new drinks, cooking, and various sitting-around activities, ideally different activities than usual. It seems like everything involving walking takes a lot of walking, or cutting things short, which is a no-go.

Mostly I'm wondering whether going is worth it. I guess there is value in just being in a different place. Due to recent life stuff, I have high amounts of stress and anxiety, and some depression, affecting my judgment right now. In the past, I have always been glad of and reinvigorated by trips once there, but I've never been so restricted while traveling.

*Areas are Guadalajara and Oaxaca.

(My family missed our flight this morning because I came down with what I think is a bad case of food poisoning, including delirium, which I am amused-bummed I don't remember. I am considering sending my husband and kiddo on a later flight without me once I can walk without falling down.)

Sorry for the jumbled babble, I don't feel all here at the moment. This feels a little like a drunk post. I think all of this is sort of funny at this point.
posted by moira to Travel & Transportation around Oaxaca, Mexico (8 answers total)
Oh, Moira, I am so sorry. But as an elderly Internet Stranger with mobility issues, I say for God's sake, NO. No matter how much you want to be no-trouble, no matter how much you don't want to be left behind, a large portion of the trip for everyone else will be concern for you, dealing with your issues, worrying about you, concern about you coloring every possible activity. Give them a break. Stay home cheerfully, and continue to aggressively rest.
posted by kestralwing at 7:12 PM on July 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

It may present more difficulties than you may want to deal with. As a wheelchair user, I may be overcautious.

There are numerous problems with traveling with a wheelchair, especially one that you do not own. Wheelchairs are all too often lost or damaged by the airline. Who will be liable for loss or damages to a rented chair? The airline may make you check it and which makes connecting flights more troublesome. Can you walk to the next gate? Can you get insurance to cover the chair? If you know anyone who still has a no-longer-needed chair sitting in a closet from a past injury, they may be open to lending it to you with the understanding that the chair might not survive the trip.

Most rental chairs are not made for anything but smooth indoor floors. Solid tires and plastic handrims don't make for a fast, easy ride. Pushing on uneven sidewalks, roads, bumpy paths or gravel can be grim. Unpaved surfaces are extremely difficult to impossible. Even modest hills are tough.

It takes arm strength to push on any surface except smooth uncarpeted floors. Since this is new to you, you may not have the strength to push for long or be comfortable maneuvering. This may mean that someone will have to push you most of the time. Once again, it's not too hard on flat smooth surfaces but on outdoor terrain it gets hard, and some places, like a beach without paved paths, will be inaccessible.

Taking a taxi works if they can accommodate the wheelchair.

If you have strong arms and have people who are enthusiastic about pushing, it may be doable if the terrain is not too rough, and if you don't mind just watching or being left behind for some activities. If you're adventuresome and not daunted by challenges, you may have a great time. I'll be glad to answer any questions about getting around in a wheelchair.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 7:16 PM on July 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Please get in touch with your doctor. It may not be advisable for you to travel given your recent GI and cognitive symptoms. We can’t decide that for you but your medical team can help.

Having been hospitalized with c diff in a foreign country I would not travel with the list of limitations that you are facing.
posted by bilabial at 7:22 PM on July 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don’t know Guadalajara, but I definitely don’t think that Oaxaca would be at all easy to navigate in a wheelchair - it’s quite hilly, the sidewalks can be very narrow and have lots of obstructions, and I think curb cuts are pretty hit and miss. In centro historico the streets are paved with brick rather than asphalt as well. The chances of getting a cab big enough to fit a wheelchair in would be basically nil.

There are definitely orthopedic equipment places in both Guadalajara and Oaxaca de Juárez that rent wheelchairs, though. I just don’t know that it would be very prudent if you’re not used to getting around in a wheelchair already.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:26 PM on July 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Hi, I'm not great but feeling about a million times better right now. Not being utterly miserable is heavenly.

To clarify due to brain malfunction while typing, with the caveat that my brain is still not 100%:

The flights aren't back-to-back, but given what you have to say about wheelchairs it doesn't really matter; it's just not going to work like I'd want it to.

The alternative idea was that I'd mostly sit around and wave them off on their adventures and make myself useful in the kitchen and enjoy the fact of being and eating in Mexico, while not limiting them to what I could do, but with the hope there was maybe something we all could enjoy together here and there that I wouldn't negatively impact. No?

My husband and friends have been so optimistic, encouraging and forgiving (of course they have, they are wonderful), and I thought I was wrong to be thinking of not going. I expected the bulk of the answers to say so.

We're going ahead with the assumption that I will stay behind unless there's a good reason to change our minds. I can make a little staycation for myself at home.
posted by moira at 10:33 PM on July 20, 2019

I, and several other people I know (somehow the topic comes up a lot in travel discussions) always ALWAYS get GI sick in Mexico, even while taking precautions. It's the last place I'd go in the aftermath of a food poisoning episode, even putting aside the mobility issues.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:08 AM on July 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’ve been to Oaxaca with someone in a wheelchair, and another time with a kid in a big middle-class off-road stroller. It’s not impossible, but it is somewhat limiting. (The kid ended up being carried most of the time.) The wheelchair user had a motorised chair, which helped with the hills, and we rented a large van for airport shuttles and whenever we left the city. The centre of Oaxaca is hilly but several streets are pedestrianised. Plenty of centrally-located hotels have accessible ground floor rooms. There are attractions in the centre that you could see, particularly the church and botanical gardens (tours of the latter are wildly variable in quality - try to get the American ex-pat lady if possible). I’m afraid I don’t remember whether the excellent convent museum has a lift, but I think it might. Most restaurants are easily accessible. Outside of the city, Monte Alban isn’t really accessible due to steps before the main “square”. However, you could still get value out of several of the places on the typical Hierve el Agua trip - you could see the outside of the structures at Mitla, and the big tree, and they’ve just built a ramp at HeA which will get you most of the way to the pools and still allow you to enjoy the views. (Normally I’d recommend skipping the mezcalerias and the carpet workshops and taking in the less-visited archaeological sights instead - especially Yagul, which is spectacular and usually deserted - but the former are a lot more accessible).
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:18 AM on July 21, 2019

...as a follow-on to that hastily written comment; if you do decide to go, memail me if you’d like more specific recommendations for the Oaxaca leg of the trip
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:28 AM on July 21, 2019

« Older Gym class for one   |   Yoga for on the plane Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.