Vacationing dog guide didn’t enjoy his boat ride

This is the latest in a series about writer Clarence Sha-degg’s trip to Mexico.

As we continued our Mexican Riviera cruise, I wondered; How do people of another country respond to people who are blind? How will they react to my dog guide? I would soon find out.

The Star Princess dropped anchor at four ports along the western Mexican coast: Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Telly would guide me around on only one land visit, one where I was sure he would be safe. I was told that packs of dogs often roamed the beaches and streets. The ship crew cared for the dog guides when we ventured ashore. Without our dog guides, we got around with only our white canes and sighted guides.

Acapulco was the largest of the cities we visited. The van for our tour was parked near the dock. I reached for the door frame as I lifted myself into the van. My elbow bumped the door of the vehicle and part of the lining for the window fell, touching the top part of the partially opened door window. I hoped this was all that was wrong with the vehicle.

The van was hot and stuffy. With no air conditioning, I felt drowsy and uncomfortable while trying to follow our driver’s narration. It seemed as if we spent more time stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic than enjoying the sights.

All of us passengers were blind or legally blind. We had to ask our driver to use verbal cues and not visual ones. His English was pretty good, but he seemed uneasy about describing sites of interest to people who were blind.

Our tour guide and some of the restaurant staff made traditional Mexican drinks, punching open a coconut for each of us. They added some water to liquefy the coconut contents. It was sweet tasting with a good flavor, although I worried about drinking tap water mixed into the beverage.

One of the visits was to watch the famous cliff jumpers of Acapulco. Unfortunately, much of the show was over by the time we arrived. Soon after we arrived, a park employee met us and requested us to pay to watch. The fellow stated he would charge those who could see half of the amount while he would not charge anything to those of us who were totally blind. That was because, he said, “we couldn’t see the jumpers anyway.”

The members of our group who had to pay grumbled as they paid the fee even though we had barely 10 minutes to enjoy the remaining part of the show.

At Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, I had Telly with me on the four-hour tour. This would be my dog guide’s only time on land in 10 days. A security team helped us step from the plank of our ship to the tender, the boat that would ferry us back and forth from ship to shore. A three male security team nervously pushed and pulled me as if I was unable to walk under my own power. They pressed their bodies tightly against mine pinning my arms to my side, it felt like they were moving me like I was heavy statue. They pushed and pulled me this way and that way. Their actions felt like they put me at risk because my dog guide was blocked from guiding me. My efforts to communicate with them were made impossible because of the language barrier.

Telly did not like the ride in the tender. A fellow passenger told me about the expressions on Telly’s face as we exited the tender. He was obviously displeased about the ride. Telly gave the tender a quick glance over his shoulder as he exited the boat, letting it known that he wanted to get off of this boat for good.

Our tour guide Alberto met us as we exited the dock near the town of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa. Telly backed into the open space on the floor of the front seat of this bus. That is where he stayed during the tour.

Alberto stood at the front of the bus. He gave us a fine history of pre-Columbian Mexico and provided much helpful and interesting information throughout the visit. We stopped at a countryside restaurant. Merchants went from table to table to sell their goods. Most of the merchants seemed to have avoided me, perhaps because Telly rested on the floor next to my chair. Could they have been afraid of my dog?

Our next stop was at a coconut plantation. We exited the bus again and walked as a group. Alberto gave us a narrative history as we strolled down a dirt road. One of the elders on the plantation demonstrated the many uses of coconuts. We bought some products from the family that ran the plantation. Telly was interested in the little dog he saw carried by children who lived in the area. n

The final installment of Clarence Shadegg’s trip to Mexico.will run in an upcoming issue of Access Press.