Luxuries Most-Missed in Haiti: an Inventory


Item #2—(Without a doubt)—bandwidth—

First a bit of context—

Most of you reading this post will do so using a high-speed internet connection, the speed of which exceeds the old dial-up connection by hundreds of times.  Do most of you even remember how slow dial-up was?  Yes, I know, when you think “dial-up,” you think dinosaur, not so much from the last decade, but from the remote history of the previous century.  (Does anyone even use dial-up any more?)

More context—

I have given up my career teaching writing to live on island with the infrastructure of 19th-Century London, given it up, hoping to make meaning from the work of ACTUAL writing, rather than the work of merely teaching writing.  Given this, the tools of the trade tend to matter.  At least they matter to me.

Herein lies my problem—namely that I’m blogging, and blogging requires bandwidth—or, at the very least, the option of up-loading text and images at a reasonably decent speed—and by “decent” I mean—able to post 1000 words and one photo in not more than 8 hours. 

(Let me be perfectly clear—I’m not talking about writing time—I’m referring to the time it takes to upload a word document and a photo or two—something that from our home in Kentucky I can do in a matter of seconds—copy, paste, save, upload (image), save, post—not a complicated or time-consuming process—5 minutes max, if literally everything imaginable goes wrong.)

Not so in Port-au-Prince—

Not so by a long shot—

For example—

One day over a month ago, I decide to change my blog’s theme (big mistake), which ultimately involves uploading a new header image (even bigger mistake). 

The process begins around 9 in the morning.  I have been awake for several hours—since 5, actually.  I’ve had my French lesson, which is challenging and something I sometimes even hate. (See “A Tale of Miserable Failure: Moanings of a Second Language Learner” to fully appreciate my struggles with the language.)  I have been to the gym—

I am eager to get started but remember that posting to my blog the day before and the day before had not gone well—had taken considerable time—

Here’s how it all goes down—

9:15 am: I make myself a cup of coffee.  I need to be fully fortified.  Caffeine should do the trick.

9:21am: I position myself on the corner of the couch, open laptop.

9:23 am: Click the Internet Explorer icon on my desktop and wait for my Yahoo home page to load.

9:26am: Still waiting.

9:27am: Text begins appearing on the screen.

9:30am: Text still loading.

9:33am: The first image—a photo of Michelle Obama—begins appearing.

9:35 am: More photos———

9:38am: With Yahoo fully loaded, I decide to forego checking email.  (It might take too long.) 

9:39am: Sigh—click “WordPress Dashboard” on Favorites drop down menu.

9:43am: Dashboard still loading.

9:50am: I decide against checking stats.  (It might take too long.)

9:51am: Sigh—click “Appearance.”—Sigh—Click “Theme.”

Fast forward————-

10:01am: First page of themes fully loaded.

(You see where this is going)

Fast forward——————-

Around 6 in the evening Sara comes home. 

I am not in the best of moods.  I am not welcoming.  I am not gracious when asked how my day has been. 

I share.

Apparently, I share too much.

I share too vigorously.

I use a few too many expletives.

“You wanna know how my day has been?”  The rhetorical question is Sara’s first clue—things may not have gone well.

“I’ll tell you how my day has been.”  Sara takes a step back.  I have that look in my eye.

“I have just spent 8 hours pounding my f—ing head against a f—ing virtual wall.  And I’ve accomplished  nothing.   Absolutely.  Nothing.”

“Nothing?”  Now Sara has the look—duck and cover—duck and cover!

“Nothing—a big, fat, mind-numbing NOTHING!”

“In that case, I think I’ll get something to eat.”  Sara leaves the guest room, where I am hovering as close to the router as humanly possible without morphing into router myself.  I’m hoping it might increase my chances.  Improve my reception. 

I’m hoping it will keep me sane and Sara able to live with me, not living with enough bandwidth.

Fast forward several weeks—————–

Sara shares the other morning, once we’ve decided to schedule my return to Haiti, “I’ve had Steve from IT working on our internet connectivity.”

I’m thinking—

Wise woman.

Maybe this means it will only take half a day, a mere 4 hours to post 1000 words and one photo.

I’ll keep you posted—

I hope.

22 thoughts on “Luxuries Most-Missed in Haiti: an Inventory

  1. I’m really enjoying this series. When we told people we were moving to Tokyo some warned us how hard it would be to learn Chinese and others asked if we would return to the states to see doctors and dentists. Interesting to see the perspectives of developing countries….

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    • Wow–I know there’s a lot of ignorance among Americans about the rest of the world. Were these kinds of questions asked by folks from the US? Chinese in Japan!!!!!!!!!!!! Glad you’re enjoying this, though!

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  2. Oh man…well, if your updates come slower and farther between, I think we can all forgive. 🙂 Good luck returning to slow-as-dial-up connections. I remember that our dial-up window had a little timer in the corner of it, so you could sit and count along with it the mind-numbing seconds it took to connect. My mom made fun of my sister and me because we would rant and rail against a timer that got up to 40-45 seconds. Of course, in the days before dial-up, 40-45 seconds was a flash! But when it came to logging on and getting to those ever-important e-mails (we were popular teenagers, of course, lots of business to conduct), 40-45 seconds was torture. 8 hours though? I’m not sure I would have even been verbal by the end of 8 hours, lol.

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    • Thank God you’ll forgive me, cause I may not get to post at all tomorrow or Sunday because of the trip itself. It just takes so much effort to get ready to leave the country for several months when you own a home, etc. I am kind of dreading the internet connection–I have to admit. More a couple of days——–

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  3. Oh that’s no fun. I think “pounding [your] head against a virtual wall” is a pretty perfect way to sum up how frustrating slow technology can be. Hopefully you have better luck this go around!

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    • The other thing I forgot to mention in the psot is that I have a general lack of patience with technology to begin with. Sara seems to tolerate the issues more than I can–oh well–hopefully things will be improved when I arrive.

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  4. holy moly…how much we take for granted…
    I so enjoy your posts…I will hope for the best in Haiti.
    blessings
    jane
    p.s. you teach writing? what should I be doing? now I am all worried about what i write…i imagine there are “rules…”

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  5. When my power went out for an our yesterday, and I was flummoxed – couldn’t make a phone call on my land line, couldn’t play my digital piano, couldn’t reheat that morning’s coffee – I thought of your days in Haiti, and decided not to call the power company to complain.
    But this would be interminable – my patience could not stand for it. You, on the other hand, clearly have the patience of a saint to even TRY to post from Haiti, but I’m glad you will keep trying! Have a great trip back.

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    • I understand your lack of patience, especially since you probably lose power infrequently. So much depends on what you’re used to. The more you do without, the easier it becomes to handle not having it–so you should be patient with yourself!

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  6. Reminds me of the old days. Because yes, I do remember dial-up. I also remember how frustrating that can be, waiting and waiting and waiting for one page to load.

    Wishing you a faster, better internet connection. Good luck!

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    • Ah–remember! Yes, it can be maddening, once you’ve expereinced a fast connectionl. At least in the old days we didn’t know what we were missing. We were just excited by the idea of the internet. I think it’s REALLY hard to go backwards.

      By the way, I have arrived in Haiti and so far this morning my speed is tolerable–at least not as bad as the day I describe in this post! Let’s hope it stays that way!

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