For the last hour, I have been staring at the “Wireless Connection Status” window on my laptop. (And yes, this does get better.)
Since having serendipitously discovered wireless internet within a small corner of my room five days after arriving to Lima, I have squeezed most of my days between pockets of connective happiness. I do have internet at work during the week, and yes, internet cafes do exist in Lima. But over the years, I have grown so accustomed to internet at home that being online in the morning and at night has simply become second nature. And that, my friends, is most enjoyably done while half asleep and within inches of a half-made bed.
I vowed my days of internet cafes in Latin America were over when I noticed my often-taken-for-granted wireless network detector one day pop up, informing me with utmost modesty that it had for the 14,256th time successfully connected me to some available source of wireless internet. Given the non-existent connectivity of many residences in Latin America, including my present one, I praised my internet-savvy neighbors. Some stranger’s “linksys” connection was my ticket to instant placation of an insatiable habit in need of a quick fix.
But as of last Thursday, I was cut off. It’s just internet, though, right? During my 10 months abroad in rural Ecuador, my host mother often shouted across the house, “¡Se fue la luz!” (“Electricity’s gone!”) or “¡Se fue el agua!” (“The water’s gone!”) – a far cry from a lost internet connection.
A part of me thought, it could be a lot worse.
But no internet at home means more than a quick fix for a privileged dependence. Since arriving to Lima almost two months ago, I’ve relied on the internet to easily connect with my sister in Colombia, my family in Texas, and my friends in Austin and Washington, D.C. After struggling to navigate a new city and enduring a nasty stomach bug in a stranger’s home within weeks of arriving, I sometimes wonder if I’m built to do this kind of work by myself. As much as I love my work, it never seems to fully satisfy when I realize how far I am from home. The experience of being sick in a foreign country by myself is all the unpleasant information I’ve ever needed to realize the importance of a convenient way to stay in touch with the people who know you the best.
As I watch the “Wireless Connection Status” window and my wireless detector scroll through, and attempt in vain to connect to, a list of stored wireless connections that I’ve connected to over the past few years – Robledo, Spiderhouse, and 1306East28, to name a few – I am reminded of how far I am from a feisty Texan with a penchant for Corpus Christi hip-hop, an Austin coffee shop that reminds me of my formative college days, and a red-haired loved one entirely too far away.
Posted By Ash Kosiewicz
Posted Jul 7th, 2008