Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A while since last post

Actual date: Dec. 27

You’ll have to excuse us, as a lot has happened since our last post, but from the time of our arrival in Cochabamba, Dec. 21, we’ve been staying with Virginia’s abuelita (Spanish for grandma), and she doesn’t have internet.

We’ve made a number of fruitless attempts to get online using Abuelita’s telephone line, but it turns out that tech company Acer left a phone modem out to save space in producing our extra-mini laptop. This does indeed suck, but I’m glad we bought it at Costco just before we left on our two month trip, as Costco has a three month return policy on computers. I’m considering it a 2.5 month rental, but for free because we’ll get a full refund for our 500 bucks when we get home.

Anyways, V’s uncle, my new uncle Roberto, who’s some sort of a computer system developer for a list of companies in Bolivia, made a number of attempts to get us up on the web at Abuelita’s using the phone line, but it’s never so easy with technology from different parts of the world.

Before we knew of this missing modem, we made a trip to the market, thinking a cable adapter was going to be the fix we needed. There’s a particular street in the midst of the market madness where hole-in-the-wall computer shops are lined up one after the other. We had to visit about twenty shops before we found the cable adapter. As with every other shop, the clerk told Roberto he didn’t have such a thing. However, with my keen eye, and while standing outside the shop, I saw it through a window on a cluttered shelf right beside the man’s desk!

After going home and learning this was not our answer, we eventually made another trip to the market looking for an external telephone modem.

Apparently, even in a country where much seems out of date, external telephone modems are obsolete – most every computer comes with them preinstalled. We gave up after about 30 shops into our search.

Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to use the internet at Roberto’s during our visits there, but that hasn’t work out too well either.

I tried to post one time, on Christmas day, but there was a problem with Blogspot’s formatting, and it refused to post. Before I could investigate any further, a monsoon hit and Roberto’s apartment at the back of the property started to flood.

I had to abandon the internet to lend a hand for the next couple of hours, using buckets and large bowls to bail water from the back yard to the drainage gutter in the front yard. Once the rain subsided, we spent the next while trying to get half a foot of water out of the building.

Roberto and his family (wife Rosemary, son Robertito, daughter Adrianita) recently moved into the house earlier this year to take care of Rosemery’s ailing mother. The house was built about fifty years ago, a time when architects were scarce, and so it lacks some engineering foresight.

The entire backyard is covered with concrete, and much of the roof runoff from the two building’s flows to the same area. Compounding the problem, the builders included only one small drainage gutter for all of this water.

From the flooding we saw in the streets the day we arrived, this is a common problem in Cochabamba. We’ll get to this story and a few others in posts to come.

Luckily the main house is well above the flood line, but the smaller building at the back has flooded three times since they’ve moved in. They now have plans to smash the concrete, replace it with grass and redirect the roof drainage, which will hopefully avoid future flooding.

Another time we tried to use Roberto’s internet was the night before on Christmas eve, but as soon as I got the process rolling the family was downstairs calling for my attendance; they were about to touch glasses in a toast. Roberto was polite enough to say they could wait, which was very nice of him, but there were 20 or more members of his family downstairs, glasses full to the brim, waiting to get the evening’s festivities going. Again I abandoned the blog, going downstairs where Roberto gave a wonderful toast.

After the toast the evening was in full swing, and I didn’t want to step away.

There was another opportunity to use Roberto’s internet, but I came down with a bad headache and a an upset stomach – already having a cold – so I decided to lie in bed instead.

Hopefully I get this up soon, as I’ve really enjoyed blogging about our adventures.

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