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Sightless From Sicily to Southern France with Blind Explorer Christopher Venter

Close your eyes. Picture that darkness, that starless night. If that was all you could see, no color, no shades, no shape or light, nothing at all but blackness, would you still have the courage to explore the world? This week’s guest, Christopher Venter, aka The Blind Scooter Guy, did and does, and he’s going to take us on a journey sightless from Sicily to Southern France and shows us the world as he experiences it with his other four senses. And guess what? It may just change the way that you see the world too. 

Christopher had always dreamed of being an explorer. He traveled the world, he went on many adventures. But then, suddenly, in the midst of an epic 18,000-mile Vespa scooter expedition across Africa and Europe something happened that changed his life forever. His sight began to dim. Within 24hrs his world had turned black. Doctors diagnosed a rare virus growing on his retinas. They managed to save his life, but not his sight. At 40 years old, he was told that he was blind and he would never see again. He thought his life was over. He came close to ending it all. But then he heard about a man called James Holman and against the odds he began to hope again. Holman is, perhaps, the world’s most remarkable explorer. Born in 1786, he lost his sight at the age of 25. But instead of giving up on his dreams, he doubled down on them. With very little money, and no assistance, Holman set off to see the world. He sailed around the globe, he fought the slave trade in Africa (a river in the Congo is named after him), he mapped uncharted parts of Australia, he survived captivity in Siberia and rogue elephants in Sri Lanka. And through it all, he became something of a celebrity of his day, a symbol of raw determination and the capacity of the human spirit for adventure. If Holman could do it, why couldn’t he? Highlights include:

  • Find out what it’s like to experience the world as a blind traveler

  • Hear the amazing story of James Holman’s life, one of the most remarkable explorers in history, but still largely unknown to most people

  • Explore Sicily, Tuscany, and the Amalfi Coast

  • Discover Nice, Provence and the Pyrenees

  • Be inspired by Christopher’s courage and determination to make his dreams come true, despite such sudden and devastating set backs 

  • Learn to appreciate the world in a deeper way. Christopher paints images in his mind by slowing down, being present and using his other four senses. Find out how you can do the same and see the world in a new way

  • Listen to how Christopher’s story can inspire you to overcome your own challenges too, whatever they may be

Who's the Guest? Christopher Venter, aka the Blind Scooter Guy, is a blind adventurer, explorer, writer, speaker and storyteller. He has two books: (please note, when you buy from these links I get a small affiliate fee which helps support the show)

How I Became The Blind Scooter Guy: My soul searching safari by scooter from the Southern Tip of Africa to the Shamrock fields of Ireland

Sightless From Sicily to Southern France: A blind man's journey by any means - from Ocean and Air to Road and Rail, experienced through the remaining four senses


Who's James Holman?

James Holman (1786-1857) was a Victorian-era adventurer and author. The first blind person to circumnavigate the globe, he holds the further distinction of being the most prolific private traveler in history, blind or sighted, prior to the invention of modern transportation. A British naval lieutenant, Holman lost his eyesight at the age of 25 to rheumatic illness, contracted while serving in the War of 1812. Since the illness also left him in chronic pain, an act of royal charity awarded him a pension and permanent residency in Windsor Castle.

Expected to live as a cloistered invalid, Holman surprised the court by instead relocating to Edinburgh, where he became the first blind person known to attend medical school. In 1819 he began a lifelong pursuit of solitary travel, venturing unaccompanied through much of Europe and publishing an acclaimed memoir of his experiences. He remained almost constantly traveling, always solo, for the next four decades. When officials attempted to confine him to Windsor Castle–on the grounds that he was officially disabled–Queen Victoria’s own physician prescribed freedom, testifying that Holman’s still-painful condition responded best to “a continual change of scene and of climate,” and warning that inactivity would cause his death.

Holman traveled to all known continents. In Siberia he was accused of spying, imprisoned and exiled as an enemy of the Tsar. In Africa he participated in fighting the slave trade, helping to found what is now the nation of Equatorial Guinea (where the Holman River was named in his honor). Often greeted and celebrated simply as “the Blind Traveler,” he published five volumes of memoirs, and was famous enough upon his death in 1857 to warrant a multi-page entry in the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Yet Holman descended into a posthumous obscurity; the Brittanica entry disappeared, as did his manuscripts and papers. No comprehensive study of James Holman emerged until 2006, when Jason Roberts published the award-winning biography A Sense of the World, subtitled How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler.

(text taken from - The Holman Prize supports the emerging adventurousness and can-do spirit of blind and low vision people worldwide. This endeavor celebrates people who want to shape their own future instead of having it laid out for them. Created specifically for legally blind individuals with a penchant for exploration of all types, the Prize provides financial backing – up to $25,000 – for three individuals to explore the world and push their limits.)

Buy his biography, the book that inspired Christopher to set out on how own adventures

More about accessible travel?

I have some great suggestions for companies that empower you to see the world no matter what the level of your ability. Please get in touch

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