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Karina Bárcena

I like to travel on the subway in Mexico City. Yes, I’m possibly one of the very few people who like to get on this public transport, famous for the number of people who use it daily, more throughout “peak” hours.

Why do I enjoy it? Because it has allowed me to observe the reality of my country, and specifically, meet one of the women I admire the most. She is Naomi.

One morning I took the subway at a station, south of the city. A couple came calling me down the escalators using a cane. It was a man and a woman, two friends with visual disabilities who were accompanying each other that day to take the transport. They stole my attention because she was conversing with a high voice, she was particularly cheerful among the crowd of people who passed under the city.

They both climbed into the same car as me. Three stations later I went off, and so did they. Their pace was fast, guided by the podo-tactile paving (relief on the surface floor used to indicate the way) and the use of their canes. However, their path stopped when they had to transfer to another subway line.

I saw them doubting as of where to walk. Then I realized the difficulty to identify the correct path for a person with a visual disability since the subway’s signage in that station is presented only on a visual form. There were no indications in the Braille system and the tactile tiles only led to the station’s exit.

I approached and asked them if they needed help. They told me that they had to switch trains to the same route that I was going. Curiously, the three of us would get off at the same station, and I, therefore, offered my support until we’d get off the subway.

When she felt the heat of the city while climbing the last stairs towards the exit, she told me that she was a Braille teacher, something that I was interested in learning. We exchanged phone numbers, she only heard mine once, and we said goodbye.

About 15 days passed. After unsuccessful attempts to call the number she gave me, my phone rang. It was her, Naomi, who just by listening once to my phone number she learned it and called me.

From that day, she became my Braille teacher, friend, confident.

I admire her intelligence, the positive way she sees life, her energy, her ability to learn and her joy. In addition to being a teacher of the reading and writing system and adapting educational material for people with visual disabilities, she knows how to use a computer perfectly, send emails and make digital documents. She finished a bachelor’s degree when she had already lost much of her vision, she’s a mom, she cooks and she has a giant heart to help people.

That’s why I like to travel using Mexico City’s subway. Because you can find people, like Naomi, who makes life more beautiful.