Powered Wheelchairs in Portugal: Missed Flights and Lost Luggage

When we left off, I was helping collect two groups of fellow Americans for the first World Cup of Powered Wheelchair Soccer from the airport in Lisbon, Portugal.

Both groups had people that were not able to complete their connections in London and Paris, so it was to be a day of waiting for the hospital workers and myself who were there to meet them.

Maybe it worked out for the best.

Because both groups were delayed, I was able to sleep in the van for a couple hours. I had ample time to get my wits back and spent the day hanging with my new friends from the hospital. The Coimbra hospital for cerebral palsy would be hosting the team along with their families and caretakers for meals and transportation.

The first group arrived and we were able to hook them up with a ride with the team from Ghana that had room on their bus.

By late afternoon, the second cohort had arrived, but as luck would have it, several of their bags had been lost. Remember how bad trying to track lost luggage is in your own language? It was rough at times.

To be completely fair, I had been slacking on the Portuguese language practice at the time. The hospital workers spoke no English. I was helpful in a way I had not experienced before and it was amazing what it did for my language skill.

It is amazing what the smallest bit of responsibility can do for us.

I spoke more Portuguese helping a group of Americans over the next week than I had in the previous month as the only American in the program.

Next level lazy. Typical of younger me.

But what happened over the next week was an inflection point that would stick with me forever.

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