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Life without Internet

05 Mar
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Line at the Post Office for Internet, Havana, Cuba

I am asking you guys, who read this posting on a smart phone, tablet, computer if you can imagine a world with no Internet. Your just clicked and here it is, you can read anything that lives on any server in the world. But how about you click on the network and no wi-fi network show up. And not today or here, but everywhere you go and even if you try the entire week still no network shows up on your phone. Scary, isn’t it? So the phone morphed in a useless device and you store it in your bag at home and forget about it, or maybe you carry it around just to take pictures or play music. But if you delve deeper you find out that is a way to connect to the Internet and you go to a place in town, there are maybe one or two in the entire city, where you stay 30-45 minutes in line and eventually buy an access card that cost you a fifth of a good salary, let’s say for the argument’s sake about $1500/hour of access. Would you go for it? Well, such a world does exist and is not so far from you.

“Bienvenidos a Cuba!”

The lack of Internet and implicitly the news is one of the main topics for many travelers in Cuba. Everybody jokes about it and the stories abound wherever you go. As one Czech girl jokingly said one evening: “Here I have no clue what is going on in the world. The newspapers write only positive stories and I have no idea if Putin would not have flexed his muscle and I will still find a Czech Republic when I get back” Used to have the phone checked twice an hour at least and staying informed with news make you feel totally out, so far away of the world. And for good reason because in Cuba everything is different and not necessarily all bad. For a change people look to each other when they talk, teenagers hit the ball on the street or get lost in long kisses with their partners, students play games on improvised tables in the university and they flirt casually,  joyfully and oblivious of the surrounding, nobody looks in any devices when they walk avoiding in this way to be sucked in by huge potholes that pockmark the roads, and kids come home and play with the dogs and even talk to their parents. The weird feeling of the first two days in Cuba is replaced by relief; you cannot be contacted and you realize that you really don’t need to know what is going on and more than anything you notice that you did not suffer from ADD; for a change you can chat with somebody and immerse completely in that conversation because is nothing to disturb you and nothing else is important, except the major choice of the day: mojito or pinacolada. After two days in Havana you cannot understand why you really cared about Putin or ISIS or the bickering in the US senate or any policy, you created a completely new reality so let the old one stay on a dusty shelf and forget about it as long as you’d like. If you feel that you have to let people know that you are still kicking and you were not sucked in by a blackhole you can ask your host to let you use her computer that has no Internet access but can send emails. Few Cuban have this luxury in their houses and if they do, the grey carcass computer is gutted on the table guzzling from its fans, and you send the email using the host’s email address watched and filtered by the Secret Police, “Mom, I am fine and I ate my fruit for breakfast”, after which you click the “Conectar” button and you hear an old and familiar tone that you have to explain to your son or daughter that this is the sound of a modem calling on the phone line. The message goes like a message in the bottle into the large ocean. You don’t expect a response, you just send and hope that it will be received and leave the house and you have the epiphany when you realize that you don’t need and don’t have time for Internet because Havana takes you in its arms and it never wants to let you go. I will tell you the story about Havana and Cuba, a love story that disappeared from news, embargoed with everything else by policies of stubbornness and ideals of creating the new man, all leaving behind the real people and their sufferings.

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Posted by on March 5, 2015 in Blog, Cuba

 

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