Saturday, April 16, 2016

The interwebs

Just a brief note on the internet. I heard before I came that they don't really have wifi here. Just a little bit, and it's "bad" - so don't plan on any internet. So, I told everyone I wouldn't have any internet but since my phone company had said that I would have texting, I was expecting that. Totally wrong. No texting. I could even text in Mongolia five years ago! No texting here. And I hadn't bothered to unlock my new phone, since I thought I would have service. Well, actually, I do have service. I have 4 bars, it just says SIM card not allowed on network. So... we're intentionally being blocked. Considering the trade embargo that has devastated their country, seems a small price to pay in return. At any rate. So I go to buy a cheap phone, a story I won't tell now. It's a story of stress and hardship (sort of) and leaving after two sweaty hours with no phone. But I DID leave with an internet card for 5 hours of pre-paid time, and the knowledge to always bring a bandanna with me to mop the sweat off of my face in the future (haven't left home without one since). And a guy from Israel who at the end had helped to translate for me when I thought all hope was lost reminded me to sign out from the computer or else the timer would continue to run and I would lose that card. Well, duh.

I heard that some plazas and hotels had wifi. I wondered if the hotel I had seen near my casa had wifi. As I approached I saw a throng of Cuban people outside sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against the walls, all on devices. How odd. It turns out you can ALWAYS tell if a place has wifi - because there will be a throng of people there, all on devices. Glued to them. Not looking up from them. I of course become one of those people as well when I go for my morning internet attempt. It's so funny to have designated spots where people are all on devices: usually phones, rarely laptops, and then everywhere else is device free! Cubans don't have data access here, so outside of the few plazas or hotel orbs, they are rarely on their phones - only for actual phone calls! I kind of like it - I feel like maybe we should have something similar.

Usually people get hour long cards, but thinking ahead, I got the fancy five hour card. I got on the wifi for the first time thinking, "This is so easy! Wonder why people said it was hard?" and then 10 minutes later it went out, and I couldn't get back on it to log out of the system and stop the timer. I tried every five minutes for over an hour. No connection, no log out. Bye, bye five hour card. Was good to have used you for 10 minutes. Now I just buy the one hour cards. The wifi is actually much less fickle in the smaller towns. Even when the power goes out, the internet stays on! So you have hundreds of people on benches and fountain edges at night in a tiny square, all blinking in the pitch black at their glowing devices. It feels like it's some sort of comment on these times in which we live, but I am not sure what...

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