Ever anticipating the journey into the realm of vertigo, and the instability of my step on a moving object, I woke refreshed with a jauntier spring to my crippled gait. I took a taxi to Port Everglades where my transportation to the Panama Canal awaited me. Okay...I was looking forward to seeing old comrades, too.
When the taxi approached the pier, I could see the large behemoth, ms Rotterdam looming high above the buildings. I was impressed.
I eased out of the taxi, my eyes still on the ship, I waited for the driver to unload my luggage, which was promptly confiscated by a porter and directed to security. I paid the driver, tipped the porter, and moved to a bench a small distance from all major activity. I had decided to wait for my friend and cabin mate, Moaneka, before boarding the ship.
Several minutes after my arrival, Moaneka arrived. She looked the same. Tall and slim, Moaneka had black hair dotted with gray, rich dark skin, and a graceful manner to her step. We greeted each other with a hug, and then proceeded to the handicap check-in counter. Ship personnel approached me.
“Would you like a wheelchair, miss?” one of them asked.
I turned to look at the selections of wheelchairs he had indicated...no plus-sized. I politely declined the offer. Of course, Moaneka, whom I love dearly, chimed in with her helpful advice.
“Rie, I think you should take the wheelchair.”
“All right, you know what’s best for you,” she said.
I ambled away from her toward security. Once through that checkpoint, Moaneka slowed her pace to keep abreast of me as we headed toward the boarding ramp. Helpful stewards who immediately took our carry-on luggage, greeted us as we stepped aboard the ship.
“So... How have you been, Moan?” I asked as we moved toward the elevators.
“You are not going to believe what happened to me on my flight.”
“Hey, I think you forget who you’re talking to,” I replied. “I've lived through your tourist poster-child days on Kauai, when you almost fell into the canyon. And who was there for your venturesome escapade in Rome. You know, when you tangled with the shower and lost.
“So, what happened on the plane?”
“Promise you won’t laugh.”
“No. Just tell me.”
“I banged my head on the overhead bin and almost knocked myself senseless,” Moaneka responded.
I refused to ask her how that happened. Hell, I was already short of breath. Laughing was not an option.
I’m glad Moaneka was walking a little ahead of me while she explained her most recent mishap. She didn’t see me smile. Whenever we’re together, Moaneka is a godsend. She helps me with the little things that I can’t manage, always there for me, and she makes me laugh, a lot, which does distract from the constant pain.
Years before, when we met on Maui, I believe we bonded so readily because of similar loss. We both had lost our husbands. And now, I really can’t imagine attending any Maui Writers function if Moaneka doesn’t attend. Yet, considering some of the ditzy things she has done in the past, I’m starting to wonder…which one of us is handicapped. But I guess it doesn’t really matter, because, in our own way, we both rely on each other.
Now, safely aboard the ms Rotterdam, wearing my motion-sickness patch behind my ear and mecclazine flowing through my veins, I’ll end my story with the worst travesty of the whole junket.
To compound my budding asthma attack from Las Vegas, the humid weather of the East coast solidified my chances of being truly mobility-impaired. I was laid low for almost the entire ten days with a severe Bronchial-asthma attack, coughing like an old man with the croup.
Oh... Did I forget to mention mobility issues are not my only handicaps? Well, that’s another story.
As I said, handicap travel is truly a bitch.