Sunday, June 14, 2015

HUMBERTO

The first time I saw Humberto Cox, he was at the Pottery Road exit of one of the Toronto ravine trails and appeared to be asking for directions. His three-wheeled scooter looked more like a lost, bright red Christmas ornament against a verdant backdrop of lush green forest. We eventually met a short time & distance later in our common destination, the Toronto Brick Works.

Now 51, Humberto was born in Mexico City to a Canadian father and Mexican mother and moved to Canada in the early 1970s. "You are the only person who speaks English with a Spanish accent and goes, "Eh". " A friend of Humberto's in Florida says of him. With that anecdote, he rocks with laughter – again!

Humberto took actuarial science in school. After graduating, he worked in this capacity, predicting insurance costs for the insurance industry. Now retired, he loves to read a lot, travel and explore. His travels have taken him all over Europe, South America and Asia.

When one travels and has an electric scooter, one has to think of accessibility and logistics. "You just have to do a lot of planning and you never can do too much. Now with the internet its easier but still you might face last-minute challenges at the location." Humberto describes as he recounts some of his travel stories.

Visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing, China was one such example of a mobility challenge. Forget the uneven cobbles that are difficult for everyone to walk on, Humberto found other unique challenges. To get from one building to the other there are ramps, but to exit a large building to the outside, there are particular obstacles! "...the next thing you know, there are these giant doors, and in the bottom they have a beam which most people just walk over, but I can't," he describes of the large red doors found throughout the Forbidden City. "There are people ready to carry me, but I go, "No, no, no! I look at it and it looks like you just lift up the beam and then you should be ok." He tells as he figures out a solution. He found people who will simply lift the beam up and out of his way, replacing it after he passes. Such is an example of a local mobility challenge not necessarily found during online trip planning.

HUMBERTO FUN FACT: While visiting Aukland, New Zealand, he found the Sky Tower is exceptionally accommodating! At 328 metres (1076 feet) it is the highest man-made structure in New Zealand. Similar to Toronto's CN Tower Edgewalk, Aukland's tower offers walks around the exterior of the top of their tower – and they are able to accommodate wheelchairs! "They put all this stuff around me, these harnesses around me, that was the hard part," he motions, describing how the Sky Tower staff secured him so his chair would not fall off the top of the dizzying height. "So there I was flying over Aukland! My mother and aunts though I was crazy!" he laughs remembering their reactions to the safe, but scary stunt!

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN


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