Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ain't like it used to be

You know, I've been thinking about how EASY us travelers have it lately. With all of the technology we have available these days, there is no reason not to communicate or to feel truly disconnected anymore. Times really have changed.

I'm going to make myself sound really old right now. Back when I started really traveling 9 years ago (my first real independent travel experience was when I lived in Granada, Spain in 2000, at the ripe age of 19), cell phones were juuuuust coming into fashion, most of my family didn't use email, and I had (gasp!) a non-digital camera which required me to actually develop film. Skype, ipods, and even this beloved blog weren't even a gleam in my eye... yet.

And that was NOTHING. Four years later, in 2004 I spent 4.5 months living in Havana, Cuba, where I couldn't make a phone call to the US (banned), check email (i had no internet at my house and there were only two computers at my office, and when they were working, they were in hot demand-- so I emailed about once a week, briefly), blog (internet connection was just too slow, and no one knew what a blog was then anyway), facebook (I didn't even have MYSPACE yet, people!), or really effectively communicate with my friends and family at home AT ALL.

Granted, living in Cuba is a specific set of circumstances in itself with more restrictions than most places, but still, when I find myself homesick and disconnected here in Buenos Aires, surrounded by modern technology, I'm humbled by the months I spent in near confinement in Havana, and I'm thankful for all the communication I have. I know my parents are too. :-)

A year after Cuba, in January of 2005 after graduating from college I bought myself the famous one way ticket to Mexico, and much to the horror of my mother, proceeded to largely disappear int the abyss that is Mexico and Central America for about 6 months. I didn't have a laptop, so it was internet cafes all the way. Skype didn't exist (or did it? In any case, I didn't know about it.) and so calling cards were how I called home. Video chat still felt like a thing of the future. Blogging still felt too complicated, uploading photos too slow. I still communicated via the postcard, while my poor parents waited weeks for their respective phone calls to alert them that I hadn't been abducted by guerrillas in Chiapas, wasn't thrown into a Salvadorian prison, had survived my stint in the Guatemalan hospital. I could hear the incredible relief on the other end of the line literally every time I reached my mom.

These days, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, our calls rarely, if ever, reach that level of relief/ desperation. Why? Because she and everyone else knows where I am and that I'm safe at all times. Haven't received an email from me lately? Check my blog. Look at my pictures and read my status updates on Facebook. Call me on Skype for a live video chat. Suddenly 8,000 miles of separation just dissolves.

I listen to music and my beloved Dan Savage podcasts on my ipod... carry photos, important files, and anything else my heart desires with me whenever I want on a tiny and convenient thumb drive... I make calls from my house phone, cell phone, Skype line... I have friends on Facebook and Myspace, Yelp, Messenger, g-chat... I can upload digital photos online with one click...and I can tell you all about it on a this blog.

So as I prepare myself for a long 4 months of travel around South America, I am comforted to know that no matter how far away I am, there is always going to be an internet café in the city nearest me, and there, you are all just one click away.

And YOU will be comforted to know that I am, you know, alive. :-)


Anonymous said...

Love it!!! Your own history in technological advancement and still so young! Showing your Love is only a click away!