In Swahili, hakuna matata translates as "no problems". I put this to the test recently and what transpired was probably one of the best holidays of my life. I spent three weeks travelling through Kenya and Tanzania, experiencing an amazing culture, wonderful people and spectacular scenery. I certainly will not say there were no problems, but they paled into insignificance compared to the overall experience.
I'm a C4/C5 complete quadriplegic and this is how we did it…
With me was a carer, who is a qualified RN in the Philippines, and my husband, a retired military veteran. While their contribution was mobility, skill and fitness, I took on the role of plans and logistics.
Our final itinerary was largely by road, so our luggage limit was 23 kg per person. As anyone with a disability knows, this is nigh on the impossible, but by travelling with two companions I was able to scrounge extra kilograms from them. The load list included:
- basic manual chair, rather than my usual heavy-duty powered chair
- slide sheet and sling in our cabin baggage, rather than a portable hoist
- new "Nuprodux" commode - a little number that folds up into a carry-on size suitcase weighing just 12 kg
- my medications and supplies, calculated to include exactly what I needed for four weeks on the road
- a thin air cushion made by ROHO – perfect for me to sit on during long flights and all our hours on the road
Travelling by road in our private Landcruiser Troop Carrier meant allowances for my disability did not affect other travellers. Roads were largely dirt and rough but taken slowly while game viewing, and there were only three exceptionally long days from one destination to another. Our vehicle had a seat removed for ease of getting me in and out, and this also enabled me to sit in more comfort.
The driver was an invaluable source of knowledge of local culture, wildlife and habitat, so much more of which is seen when travelling by road. We enjoyed views of village life, Masai market days, children herding goats and zebras wandering amongst cattle. Schoolchildren make the most of the walk home from school by carrying water and firewood, and we learned of the Masai male circumcision celebration when passing a village gathering. At a border crossing I was a curiosity for a man in a lovingly home-made timber wheelchair.
This trip took commitment and the expectation that things would go wrong, but we all agreed we would do it again. It was the local culture that showed us that the true meaning of hakuna matata is making do with what's available, and maybe that it's not worth sweating the small stuff.
An excerpt from a personal story by Christine Tink taken from Accord Autumn 2019 by Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.