Kevin and I packed up our lives in the States and moved to Portugal in 2010. We traveled, hiked the countryside and greedily gobbled up everything our new little country had to offer. Enjoying fresh produce from the farmer's market, fresh bread and fish delivered to our doorstep by trucks that came to the village every day. Picking blackberries and figs in the fields by our house, walking down the hill for a swim then stopping off for a beer and chat with the locals.
We had great stories and adventures so I built a website and named it An Adventure Abroad to share the wonderful experiences, also the silly mistakes that expats make. The more I wrote, people began to notice. The website became recognized by travel blog associations, I was getting invitations to write for online magazines and even International Living asked me to submit paid articles. While I thought my blog was a fun hobby it was becoming successful and I was becoming recognized as a "real" writer! Meanwhile, I had tripped and fallen, walking and climbing steps was becoming more and more painful. Doctors at the emergency room said it was just siatica so I kept hiking and dancing, living my best life.
Kevin (aka the citizen) had picked up his 12 string guitar again and practiced until he was ready to perform. Where we lived didn't have many options for musicians so we moved to Lagos, a beautiful beachside town where one of the attractions was a thriving street performing scene. We had grottos to explore, miles of beaches, good public transportation. Lagos was a great place to live and play music, meanwhile my stories were becoming more and more popular. I stopped writing as often, my hip hurt too much to do much of anything. The only thing to do was get a hip replacement.
After the surgery I was still in a lot of pain, swelling and it seemed to me something was wrong. Doctors told me I was just doing too much exercise and to ice it. Five months after the hip replacement I ended up in the big public hospital being treated for a very serious antibiotic resistant infection. I spent seven months in the hospital in Portimao, had three surgeries and gallons of antibiotics. They sent me home with a special temporary replacement filled with medicine to cure the infection. That didn't work out very well, still infected and getting worse. A few months later I was sent to a hospital in Faro, almost a two hour train ride from our home. Kevin made the trip every two days to bring me clean clothes, treats and company. None of the surgeries or treatments there helped, the only option was a girdlestone. This meant a replacement was impossible as the infection would return. Now, three years later I am disabled and my left leg is shorter than the right one. Turns out having a hip is important, can't walk much without one.
With the help of Kevin, crutches and a mobility scooter, plus finally feeling pretty good after being so sick, we can start having adventures again. A brilliant activist in the States, Kevin has used his skills and we are working for better accessibility in the Algarve. Accessible Algarve, is the name of our website to advocate for equal access for people with disabilities in public spaces and transportation. In 2017 we launched a successful campaign in Lagos to improve the sidewalks so people with reduced mobility can cross the road and enjoy the city safely. Also, we are rebuilding my blog An Adventure Abroad. Since we invested in a portable electric wheelchair I can use buses, trains and planes and tell our stories again.
Our first big trip was to Porto, it was great to travel without Kevin having to push me around in a wheelchair. We had made a couple of trips since I became disabled to visit Kevin's family in Plymouth, England. We tried out recumbent trikes while there and wrote about it. While our adventures are a bit more complicated, with the brilliant planning, "with our we can do this" attitude, the world awaits us.
We are republishing a sampling of "before" stories and will be sharing our new adventures here on accessiblealgarve under the heading adventures. It's great to be back!