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Lovis & Alex: Two Disabled Friends Travelling The World

Lovis and Alex are two friends from Germany, travelling around the world trying to visit six out of seven continents in one year.

Lovis has ADHD and Alex has a muscle and joint disease called AMC.

They talk to Peta about the barriers and challenges they face when travelling and how they help each other see the world.

Connect with Lovis and Alex:

Connect with Peta:

Instagram: @petahooke


Episode Transcript:

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast. The podcast answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name is Peter. I'm your host and I have cerebral palsy this week. I have two gentlemen for you on the podcast. Their names are Lois and Alex. And they're currently undertaking a massive world trip. And living with disabilities at the same time. Of course, I really enjoyed this chat and I hope you do too. So without any further ado, let's hand over to Alex and Lovis.

Lovis [00:00:51] Hi, I'm Lovis. I'm from Germany, Northern Germany, and I studied media, economics and journalism. I have ADHD since I was born. I guess. Currently I'm travelling around the world trying to visit six out of seven countries continents in one year.

Alex [00:01:15] I'm Alex. I'm also from the same city as those is from Hamburg in the north of Germany. I studied sports management and my bachelor's degree in business psychology and my master's degree. And right now, miraculously, I'm doing the same job at six continents in one year. And I was born with AMC, also got this multiplex simulator, which is muscle and joint disease very shortly set. I think with most of the disabilities and diseases, the basic is that. Mm hmm. So in Germany, you obviously pronounces in another way. Yes. They in the initial say was this multiplex to get it out.

Peta [00:02:05] So Lovis, how did you and Alex meet?

Lovis [00:02:09] We met in school. We met about eight years ago, roughly. And then there was this take off point. And we we started to develop a much more intense friendship. When Alex asked me to do talk in front of his university, and we started to more speak about inclusion, about ourselves, our friendship. From that point on, we developed a very, very deep and intense friendship.

Peta [00:02:41] I have very intense friendships as well. I don't know whether that's a desirable thing or whether the three of us are just similar in that way. I think when you have two, particularly for me, I have to rely on a lot of help. I think it just builds in that way. Alex What's it like travelling with your disability? What sort of things do you have to keep in mind and what sort of barriers do you face every day?

Alex [00:03:07] First of all, of course, there are physical barriers and so I can't walk stairs at least upstairs. Downstairs. I can. And so Lovis has to help me a lot when it comes to carrying on, going upstairs, carrying the luggage, helping me switch to clothes, do the hygiene. So all of this kind of stuff, I need help so that the physical barriers, of course. As we arrived in Malaysia the infrastructure is getting worse or is worse than in Germany or in Australia and New Zealand. So that's also quite difficult for me. For example, getting onto boardwalks without a ramp is impossible for me. Sometimes it's a bit hard that you have to rely on that one person, that you are dependent on that person. So we are mad at each other. We know. Okay. But that's that's the border where we have to help ourselves or each other or Lovis has to help me so you can be mad at me. But he has to help me to go to the toilet, right. So that's also quite. Quite a lot not a physical barrier, but a mental barrier or mental obstacle we have to overcome.

Lovis [00:04:49] There is one thing I wanted to add too, to all of those things, which I think many people forget, like cooking, doing laundry, buying groceries, all of those stuff which would have to do if I was alone. But I have to do it for two persons.

Peta [00:05:09] For you Lovis with your ADHD. Is there anything that you have to take into account when it comes to travelling?

Lovis [00:05:17] I think one of the most also stereotypical part about ADHD is that we're very forgetful. We don't remember things, we're not very structured, which is nice that I have Alex, who's at least a little bit more structured than I am. Me planning, for example, flight, booking flights. I hate booking flights. I hate most of the time, I hate writing emails, all those stuff. And it's great to have Alex who does that for me or for us when it comes to our journey. He does most of the emails and yeah, just try not to forget any luggage. Try not to forget when you have to be at the airport to be ready to have enough time to go to the airport. I think. I don't know if it's that specific to ADHD, but I need some time, a little bit more time. Like there are so many inputs, so many stories, so many people, so many new things I see, smells and I have to yeah, work with them in my head. And I think sometimes it's overwhelming for me and it's too much. And then I have to take a step back. And I wanted to add that this and that you both seem to have very close friends is that I've never had such a close friendship. I would say that there are different kind of friendships that I have with other people who are not disabled. We just were so much closer just because I had to do stuff which I never had to do for anybody else. Not only this. Physical closeness to each other, but also that we can talk more about things that are close to our heart because we are so close to each other.

Peta [00:07:14] Alex, what do you think you've learned about ADHD since you've been travelling with Lovis?

Lovis [00:07:21] I think I learned a lot about acknowledging also invisible disabilities. When you first look at Lovis, you don't see that he's disabled. He looks like this sporty, young, attractive man of course. The most important thing I learned about ADHD is that you have to trust someone. When he says, I can't do that right now, or That's too much. I need a break. When I need a break. You can see it because while I can't do it physically, I'm red in my face or something like that. But when Lovis needs a break it's not visible.

Lovis [00:08:11] And that's the thing about ADHD and I think about many disabilities, which people seem to not understand, is that a diagnosis is not not the same for everybody. People have, for example, with cerebral palsy. There are so many different ratios in which this disability can affect you. And the same with ADHD. Some people will be just fine and I'm most of the time I'm just fine. Sometimes I'm not. I once met a man, a person who works with lots of different disabled persons. And he said that it's a different topic. But autism, when you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism. And I think that's the same with many different disabilities. And I think that is the thing everybody should think of.

Peta [00:09:03] I, I see that much of your content on social media, Alex, is about shifting perceptions of what society thinks it is to live with a disability. What do you think society thinks of disability overall?

Lovis [00:09:20] Up until now, most of the society or most of the persons in society think that. Living with a disability is tough all the time. I think there are still very negative assumptions about life with the disability. We are here to show them different, right? We're here to show them well. Yeah. And maybe hard. Maybe. Quite a challenge to travel the world. But I have a lot of fun in my life.

Peta [00:09:56] I'll be so interested to maybe talk to you at the end of this trip because. I've done a little bit of travel. Only a little bit. But I always find it interesting to see how different cultures perceive disability. So I'll be fascinated to see whether you can say, Oh, Australians are really far ahead or really far behind. You know, we really struggled in Thailand or we really struggled in America or wherever you're going next to see how there is differences. Because I think I can certainly get stuck in the perspective of what Australian people think. But I'd like to hope that there are other cultures that might be a little bit even more accepting than we are here in Australia.

Alex [00:10:46] I could tell a small anecdote if you want it, about Malaysia. And so we've been quite spontaneous to club the party club not last night, the night before. I never did it often because clubbing is not that easy for me because the dance was packed. I live in the fear that I get pushed and then I will fall. But I like the atmosphere I love the feeling of being there. When we entered the club, there was a bouncer who stayed at the front door and then Lovis carried me like a few stairs.

Lovis [00:11:32] Yeah, a few, Quite a few.

Alex [00:11:34] Quite quite a lot. Quite, quite a lot of stiars. And he followed us all the way down right in the middle to the dance floor and would ask us if everything is okay or we need help. People are very friendly and very willing to help.

Peta [00:11:54] I was going to ask Lovis. I think it's Alex has shared an anecdote. Lovis, do you have a memory on the trip so far that makes you laugh?

Lovis [00:12:05] One moment, which I think is a really nice moment. It doesn't make me laugh because it was funny. But when I think it makes my heart warm and I think it's just just a lovely moment and it describes our friendship pretty good. We were on the last day of our stay in Australia, was in Melbourne. We decided to rent a car and go for the Great Ocean Road just for one day. But we still wanted to see one of the most beautiful roads in the world. I drove there because I have to do all the driving. Alex is not able to drive yet. After maybe 2 hours they said, I need a break. And we just drove into a gravel carpark and stayed there. And I said, I want to go for a walk. Do you want to join me? Maybe see the cliff? And he said, No, we're stay here because it's too, too exhausting for me and for you. I just I want you Lovis to have some free time for you. And then I went and got my camera and I walked and walked away 15, 20 minutes and looked at at the area and the surroundings. And then I stood there and I saw into the ocean and the cliff and everything was very beautiful. And I thought to myself, I cannot let Alex only let me experience that. So I wanted him to do it, even though I knew it was a little bit more exhausting. I needed to help him, needed to get there. It was not that flat, but I still wanted him to experience that. I predict his reaction. I said, you will say, wow. And then I came back to the car I got him. When we got there and Alex looked and said, Wow, you know, it's like the same way. And I think many different layers. This describes a trip of friendship and experience here pretty well yeah.

Alex [00:13:56] He's not always that friendly. Just joking. Just joking, is a very nice anecdote and I think it describes that we are looking out for each other.

Lovis [00:14:06] Yeah.

Peta [00:14:08] Well, I know this is more something you say to a couple, and you've been very clear to say that you're not a couple your friends, but you're very lucky to have each other. Well done, you two.

Lovis [00:14:18] Yes, we are.

Alex [00:14:19] That's true.

Peta [00:14:21] So since travelling together, what do you think the tourism industry needs to improve overall as far as accessibility? Either of you can answer that question. I'm just interested.

Lovis [00:14:34] I think one of the biggest things that the industry has to change is the accessibility of information, because it's so hard to know which places are accessible and which places are not. Which countries are accessible or which cities are better. Transportation is free. For example, some places it is. In some places it isn't. In Australia, you have to apply for a special card. Otherwise, you're not free. But you could be free, but you're not because you cannot apply for it when you're just there for two weeks. So all of these information that you need to, for example, have a benefit or a compensation for your disability. They're not available. And I think this is a fairly easy point to fix because every organisation, every company just needs to put something on their website which says information for disabled people and then everybody can look at this and see the information which they need.

Alex [00:15:37] I agree with you. At least in many countries. And of course, also attractive cities, the capitals, the countries where it's all about tourism. There should be a connected transport system that is laid out for disabled persons starting at the airport, then transfer to the city. The infrastructure can always be improved. Also to raise awareness in public for invisible disabilities so that you just have that mindset in the country that there are also people without visible disabilities and they also have daily challenges to overcome and that maybe need this space in trains or something, something like that. Embracing a mindset of awareness. And countries in their own countries. And then when the tourists come in, they will also adapt to that mindset, I think.

Peta [00:16:49] I'm going to ask you first, Lovis. What do you hope the future will be like for people with disabilities, both invisible and obvious?

Lovis [00:16:58] For invisible. I think we are way far behind when it comes to acceptance, me included. I only. Not come came out, but not many people know that I am ADHD now. A lot of people know, obviously. But I never. I feared of getting. Yeah. Bad reception for me having ADHD. So people saying that I'm not smart enough to do a job. Not. Not that I have too many obstacles to overcome to be a good person. And I think this is because of lack of information from from people about invisible disabilities. And I would love for everybody who also has like depression, any kind of disability or any kind of obstacle. They have to accept it for who they are. And I would love to the society to teach children how disability works, because I think that when children learn how to interact with disabled people, there is not so much need later when they're young adults and adults, to teach them how to behave with a disabled person. And everybody can be as normal as they can possibly be. Children are so open minded. There are no no people on Earth as open minded as children. But we should do that. And hopefully in one or two generations, disabled people are more visible in the media, more visible in everyday life, more visible when it comes to going to parks or in school or in jobs or whatever. I just want a more inclusive and diverse society for everybody.

Peta [00:18:59] Very well said.

Alex [00:19:01] I've got two things to add. And the first thing is that. I would love the situation and that your job is not necessary anymore. I would take away your job. It's a bit rude. Or our job and our job we would like to fulfil. Everybody knows how to deal with persons with disability and there is no need for spreading awareness or spreading information about that topic. The second thing is that inclusion one day is not the exception that the standard within every society.

Peta [00:19:46] You weren't being rude because that's exactly what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to make myself obsolete. It's okay.

Alex [00:19:53] Yeah. Not too fast. Yeah, hopefully.

Peta [00:20:02] Thank you for listening to this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it if you did. Can I encourage you to leave a writing interview on whatever platform you're listening on or share the show on social media? It all helps more people find the podcast. If you'd like to get in contact with me, suggest the guest or follow me on Instagram to see what my life is like with my disability. My handle is at the book on Instagram. Again, thank you so much for listening and until next week. Have a good one, guys. Bye. I'd like to pay my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, but especially to the Bunurong people where this podcast was recorded.


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