Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Writing in Airports

Now that we have heat and electricity and plenty of hot water, only Internet remains as our most-desired utility. It is, however proving to be remarkably difficult to obtain. The phone we had--which operates via radio waves--couldn't provide it. There is no broadband or cable service to our part of Asturias. And our mobiles get only spotty coverage. Which means that we make daily treks to check our email.

And by trek, I mean trek. The closest spot is the bar in Soto de Luiña. It's only 5 minutes away, but internet comes through a device that looks like an electronic slot machine. You sit on a stool at the screen and try to wrestle the cursor: used mostly by jovenes playing video games, the mouse gets quickly bogged down in gook. On the plus side, there's coffee at hand, and they occasionally give you free food.

There is a real-life internet café in Luarca, some 20 minutes away, but it's closed at midday and at other times, is often overrun by jovenes shouting at their video games, or middle-aged men looking at porn. There is a free, city-sponsored "ciber center" in Cudillero, but it is only open weekdays from 4-8pm, and is often taken up with "How to Navigate the Web" classes. It is also more or less the personal fiefdom of the one man who works there, so whenever he has something else to do, it closes. Yesterday I turned up only to learn he would be out until Thursday: "He just became a papa" was the reason why no one else could unlock the door and turn on the lights.

We thought we were rectifying this situation when, last week, Telefonica came to give us a new satellite phone that would, they promised, allow us to get online as well. Even when we told them we had Macs, multiple people at Telefonica assured us the satellite would work. But, now that the satellite is installed, of course it doesn't. When I called yesterday to see if they could just give us the IP addresses for Macintosh, I was told "We at Telefonica don't know anything about Macintoshes."

So, while we 1) either find someone who does or 2) give in and buy a PC, we are back at our most-favored Internet option: the airport. It's expensive, and it's 30 minutes away, but it has WiFi and we can use our own laptaps. Levon is not so crazy about it, however. He spends a lot of time in the parking lot.

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