Things That Matter

After COVID-19 Shut Down Flights, A Man Sailed Across The Atlantic Ocean All So That He Could See His Dad

For one Argentian man, there really ain’t no mountain high enough.

After the coronavirus pandemic halted international travel, Juan Manuel Ballestero set sail on a three-month-long high seas journey to his see his 90-year-old father, proving not even a novel virus could keep him from his dad.

Ballestero set out to see his father after his home country of Argentina canceled all international passenger flights in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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Misión cumplida! La fe cruza oceanos

A post shared by Juan Manuel Ballestero (@skuanavega) on

According to The New York Times, Ballestero had been on the Portugal island of Porto Santo when Argentina canceled international passenger flights. Still determined to see his father, Ballestero decided to set out on an 85-day sailing voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. All on his own.

“I didn’t want to stay like a coward on an island where there were no cases,” Juan Manuel said in an interview with The New York Times. “I wanted to do everything possible to return home. The most important thing for me was to be with my family.”

Ballestero is a veteran sailor and fisherman who has been a lover of water since he was 3 years old.

Still his family expressed that they were nervous about his decision to go his journey alone.

“The uncertainty of not knowing where he was for 50-some days was very rough, but we had no doubt this was going to turn out well,” his father, Carlos Alberto Ballestero said in an interview with The New York Times.

He also documented the trip all while on Instagram.

Though Ballestero made the trip home safe and sound, he did run into a few issues along the way.

Ballestero said that on April 12 authorities in Cape Verde barred him from docking his sailboat so that he could replenish his food supply and refuel his boat. At the time, Ballestero was eating only canned tuna, fruit, and rice. Because of Cape Verde’s denial, he was forced to continue forward with less fuel and rely on winds. What’s more, towards the end of his trip, Ballestero hit choppy waters and was forced to add an additional 10 days to his trip while in Vitória, Brazil.

Despite the complications, Ballestero said he never considered giving up. “I wasn’t afraid, but I did have a lot of uncertainty,” he explained. “It was very strange to sail in the middle of a pandemic with humanity teetering around me… There was no going back.”

Ballestero arrived on June 17 in Mar del Plata.

“Entering my port where my father had his sailboat, where he taught me so many things and where I learned how to sail and where all this originated, gave me the taste of a mission accomplished,” he shared before revealing that he had to take a test for COVID-19 before he could see his family. Fortunately, after 72 hours of waiting for his results, he found out that he was COVID-19-free and able to enter Argentina.

Despite his long trip, Ballestero said that he’s eager to hit the waters again soon.

“What I lived is a dream. But I have a strong desire to keep on sailing.”

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A Woman On TikTok Gave Her Followers Insight Into What It Feels Like To Be Paralyzed

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A Woman On TikTok Gave Her Followers Insight Into What It Feels Like To Be Paralyzed

Atsushi Tomura/Getty

In 2009, the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reported that almost 5.4 million people in the United States live with paralysis. Still, despite how common this is, few people understand the condition of paralysis and how it affects a person’s daily life. Twenty-two-year-old Jessica Tawil, of New Jersey, recently set out to explain the experience on TikTok last year.

Since her first post in November, the TikToker has garnered over 1 million followers with content that focuses on her experience of being paralyzed from the waist down.

In a post shared on her TikTok page, Tawil explained an exercise that might give people a chance to understand the sensation of being paraplegic.

@jesstawil

#foryoupage #fyp #foryou #whatilearned #stemlife #needtoknow #weekendvibes #bekind #spinalcordinjury #productivity #disability #medical #paralyzed

♬ Epic Emotional – AShamaluevMusic

In a post shared on her TikTok page, Tawil shared an exercise with her followers that demonstrates how it feels to not be able to move a ligament. In this case, it’s your finger. According to Buzzfeed, Tawil came across the exercise after looking through posts related to disabilities. “I remember feeling so blown away because my legs felt the exact same way as my finger did,” she said.

“Not many people know too much about paraplegics and their capabilities, so I wanted to be that light to inform, educate, and even entertain people,” Tawil explained to BuzzFeed. “I want people to know what it’s like to be paralyzed … so that they can be a little bit more appreciative of what they have and remain humble.”

Tawil’s video demonstration currently has over 12 million views.

Tawil explained that a kidnapping and car accident led to her paralysis when she was in her teens.

Tawil explained that the accident took place on Nov. 15, 2014, when she went to a friend’s house in high school. When she arrived, Tawil discovered that men were present and instantly felt uncomfortable when she further learned that they had brought drugs and alcohol.

“When I eventually asked them to take me home, they took me to an abandoned road instead. When we got to this road, the driver stopped the car and put his foot on the gas and brake at the same time, doing a burnout with his wheels. He lost control of the car and crashed into a tree,” Tawil explained. “It was at this moment that I got whiplash, split my head open to the point where my skull was exposed, and sustained a spinal cord injury — leaving me paralyzed the moment we crashed,” she said. “Paramedics said that I lost the equivalence of a ‘Coca-Cola bottle of blood’ out of my head, and didn’t think I’d make it if they drove me to the hospital. So they drove me to a nearby soccer field where a helicopter airlifted me to the ICU. From there on, I went through seven months of rehab and remained permanently paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.”

Speaking about her injury, Tawil says she was “robbed of my ability to use the bathroom normally (I depend on catheters and enemas).”

Sadly Tawil says her experience led to her reclusiveness and weariness to trust others. Still, she finds that her disability comes with positives. “On the positive side, I have become a lot more spiritual and grateful to have been given another chance at life,” she told BuzzFeed. “My accident has emphasized the fact that we are not promised tomorrow, and that we should always be grateful for the simplest things in life… I also want to show people how I live my life in the present day — what is life like as a wheelchair user? — and devote my channel to being a blog where people can get to know me on a lot more of a personal level.”

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Black Class Is Back! Kamala Harris Wore Monochrome For Sonia Sotomayor Swearing-In Ceremony

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Black Class Is Back! Kamala Harris Wore Monochrome For Sonia Sotomayor Swearing-In Ceremony

ANDREW HARNIK / Getty

As of Wednesday morning, Kamala Harris is officially the 49th vice president of the United States. The historic moment, which saw Harris become the first American vice president to be of Black and South Asian descent is also notable because she is the first woman vice president to hold office. Sworn in on Inauguration Day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and welcomed in by the bells of her alma mater Howard University, the day was packed full of color, power, and (for the first time in years!) class.

Check out the most poignant moments of the inauguration below.

Harris Wore An Inauguration Outfit By A Queer Black designer

Looking royal in an all-purple ensemble designed by queer black designer Christopher John Rogers Harris kept things simple and elegant in an A-line, deep violet coat, and a matching dress. The monochrome outfit has drawn comparisons to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s inauguration outfit and seemed to lead the way with other outfits worn that day by Jill Biden, Jennifer Lopez, and Michelle Obama. The bold look was more than just a fashion statement however, it was also a massive show of support of Black and Queer people.

Amanda Gorman delivered a poem that made her the youngest inauguration poet ever

Twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in history on Wednesday. Sharing her poem “The Hill We Climb” Gorman spoke to the world about rebuilding our future. “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace … We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,” she read. “Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy … So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with … we’ll raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.”

Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

In another historic moment, while becoming the first woman vice president and the first person of color to hold that office, Harris was sworn in on Inauguration Day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Harris was nominated to her position by President Barack Obama in 2009 and became the first Latino member of the Court.

Howard University honored Harris with 49 bell tolls and the ‘Black national anthem’

Harris was escorted to the inauguration ceremony by the university’s marching band, the Showtime Marching Band.

“Throughout her career, the vice president-elect has carried her Howard education with her, ensuring that she adhere to truth and service and inspiring her to achieve unprecedented levels of excellence,” Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said ahead of the ceremony. “It is perfectly fitting that the Showtime Marching Band, the ensemble that captures and reverberates the heartbeat of our institution, should accompany her on this last leg of her journey to the White House.”

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