But just when I thought all hope was lost I stumbled across the website of Endeavour Safaris, a company which specializes in providing travelers with wheelchair-accessible tours.

I emailed back and forth for several months with Endeavour’s owner Sylvia, who assured me that I wouldn’t have to bring my own caregiver, and, better yet, that I could be part of a group and wouldn’t have to be alone.

I would embark in December of 2010 as a member of a group of physically-challenged travelers bound for Botswana, then traveling to Cape Town with several stops in between. Botswana. Just the name made me tingle.

So I bought my plane tickets, safe in the knowledge that I had finally found a group tour that would accept me. Except that later, a call came from Sylvia telling me that the other members of my travel group – all of them – had to cancel because of various issues.

What was happening? Was the universe telling me not to go on this trip? And why couldn’t it have told me before I bought non-refundable plane tickets?

Through dozens more calls and hundreds of emails, Sylvia worked with me to keep down the cost of my new itinerary, and she assured me again and again that I would have a guide available to me at all times. Botswana was out, but I would still travel to Mala Mala and Cape Town. And she told me, over and over, to stop worrying.

After all the hassles, the various trials and tribulations and letdowns, I finally took her advice and, ultimately, embarked on my journey with great excitement. Of course, it wasn’t without it’s challenges – life with RA never is.

Although the Mala Mala Lodge is an hour flight from Johannesburg, getting there turned out to be a saga all its own. The twin-engine eighteen-seater had a six-step stairway. And by “stairway” I mean shaky, rickety ladder. The first step was way too high for my comfort level, so the captain and another man fashioned a makeshift step with wooden boards. I was basically carried onto the plane, but in the end it wasn’t so bad – both the men assisting me were young and single.

I was liking Africa already.