Internet. It has become such a central part of our lives, even more on this trip around the world than at home. Its reach is beyond the time spent in front of the computer at work or school, it shapes where we stay and our days when we are there. It is a love-hate relationship, this dependency on internet. It feels like addictive behavior, setting up our path in front of us with the next connectivity. Sometimes, I wish we could just let go of it and be free.
I hear it not just in myself, but in those who help us find apartments, like the woman at the tourist office in Hvar saying “You are on vacation, why do you need internet? You should be relaxing.” But that’s just it. I’m not on vacation. Nor are the children. We have not dropped everything and left for a few weeks, we’ve set up a life we can take with us. This is how we have been able to leave on an open ended trip. My billable hours and the girl’s school are online.
We’ve found that internet means different things to different people. Some connections are strong wifi that we would be happy with at home. Sometimes it means hanging over the balcony rail with a laptop or standing outside in the dark, next to the door of the owner’s apartment. Rarely it is an internet café’ down the street, but usually only as a last resort.
At the place we stayed in the Loire Valley, the owner had internet, but the friend he had managing the property didn’t even know it existed. We resorted to driving to the tourist office in Blois, then bought a 3G pay-as-you-go internet connection key from SFR, a French phone company my cell phone is through. It also did not work in the village we were staying in, it was in a small valley and didn’t have 3G, I guess. So, my connectivity was sitting in the car on the side of the road at the top of the hill until my laptop battery would give out. Eventually, we were able to get the hex key (read: password) for the wifi, and a power outage in the area re-set the modem, that was locked in a room we could not get to, otherwise we would have unplugged and reset it ourselves when it was not working.
I guess it’s like anything in the apartments we have called home. Some have issues. We have had a toilet that sprayed water from the tank all over the floor with every flush, and one that would not gather enough water in the tank to actually flush. We had to use a bucket of water, dumping it into the toilet bowl to flush that one. I’d rather not become so familiar with my turds, thanks.
Some showers are a spray handle in a tub, with no wall mount. It gets cold and sometimes it’s hard to decide where to put the shower head when shampooing. Many kitchens don’t have coffee makers, we’ve started carrying our own press, along with spices and our own cutting board. Some have those kitchen pans that are just a tad heavier than aluminum foil that everything except boiling water sticks to. Almost all include bedding, but we’ve been glad to have those cheap sleeping bags we loaded ourselves down with in Croatia.
And then, some are lovely. The knives in the kitchen cut things and we don’t have to use our Swiss army knife to open a wine bottle. The chairs are comfortable, and there is hot water in the shower. And, the internet works. I love those places.