Exploring life's passions

Help! A day without internet!

Punto del diablo

Punta del Diablo, Uruguay.

What a disaster, we have no internet. We are here, in this stunning, photogenic place in Uruguay, a small fishing village on the coast, both trying to do some work, and we’re suddenly cut off from the internet. It’s amazing to realise what an impact this can have on your day. We’re so used to having access to an unlimited amount of resources on the web, and having contact with family, friends and our colleagues wherever we go and whenever we want.

Of course, we convince each other, we’ll manage for the day. But we’re both silently already planning a trip to our landlady’s house to find out what’s happening. And if the problem cannot be solved today, we will have to think of going to one of the few restaurants that’s open in this off season and hope that we can access our mail there.

I was reminded of the time before the internet a few weeks ago too, when I went with Marlies to the post office in Cochabamba. The post box was like the one I had when I lived in Namibia, where I’d go and hope to find three weeks’ old news from family and friends and maybe even a three weeks of newspapers. Before that, while travelling, I would get my mail from post restante, like many other people. We’d be hoping there would be some news, longing for a sign of family and friends. Who had written? It didn’t matter that some letters were written before you left, or that it was all old news. It was a moment to connect with what you had left and hopefully be reassured that everyone was fine.

Postboxes in Cochabamba

Post office in Cochabamba.

And now, most of the time, we are just one click away from each other. It is amazing how quickly we got used to these new technologies, the opportunities and advantages they offer. Just imagine what it must have been like for my parents, more than 25 years ago, when I called them, to tell them I was doing fine, and quickly mentioned that I had just recovered from a serious attack of malaria? I’m sure they would’ve liked the possibility to text me once in a while, to be reassured that I wasn’t suffering another attack…

The internet is a great asset while working worldwide, as we do, with colleagues and employers based in other countries. But on a day like this, I also realise that these new technologies have another side. It makes me realise how often I am preoccupied with all these other places and people that are far away from where I am right now, and how much I try to be in both worlds, all the worlds. Making sure that I know what is happening in the wold, trying to keep the connection with family and friends, keeping myself updated on in the field of my expertise. All that, while, trying to enjoy the place where I am.

What can I do about it? I’m not sure. If only I was online, I could look it up. Now, I just have to figure it out on my own, with the help of those around me.

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