Saturday, November 05, 2005

And now for a day in cyber hell...

“Breakfast” was kind of a joke this morning. I went into the tiny restaurant-cafeteria adjoining the lobby. Almost all the tables were full. The waitress and two "chefs" were hurrying about their work, wearing very serious expressions. The chefs' masterpieces were small plates containing a few tiny (store-bought) croissants, a blob of jelly and slab of butter, along with some papaya juice from the blender. (Not that I need much. It was just a rather silly scene.)

Tried accessing the internet from my room. Standing at the chest-high window, holding the computer outside on the small ledge, I could pick up some local networks, but the signal would drop after a short time. This wasn't going to work.

Computer in hand, I went looking for an internet cafe, or maybe a hotel lobby in which I could camp. Across the street, in the "UniCentro" mall, is a small internet cafe. When I told them I wanted to hook up my lap-top, I was led upstairs to a stuffy, cluttered loft, the only spot they had. I declined. Asking for directions to internet cafes, everyone seemed to have an idea where one is, whether or not it really exists. I was sent in circles a number of times. Throughout this district, there are "Porta" cell phone stores that have telephone services and some have cyber networks. I went into one and asked about hooking up. They said they can't do it. "All I need is to plug your ethernet cable into my computer." "No."

Ended up back at my hotel. There was a "Porta" store right across the street. Maybe I'd have better luck here? The young manager was committed to helping me out. He got me hooked up, but for some reason I couldn't get on-line. I finally figured out that these "Porta" stores are on some subscription network that won't allow access for unregistered computers.

But he was convinced we could program my computer to access the network. So, he got one of his technicians on the phone and over the next hour and a half, we tried to set up my computer to access their system. We never succeeded.

"Well, before I leave, can I just log onto your computers to check my e-mail?" "No problem." But there was a problem. We tried three different computers and couldn't access MSN. "It must be ME!" Finally, the fourth worked. He was very apologetic that we couldn't get my notebook to work. It had been four hours since I started this morning. I am stubborn though. I wandered around, again looking for a cafe. Not liking Guayaquil very much. Hating it, really.

Maybe the "Hampton Inn" would let me camp in their lobby? Walked several blocks to the hotel. I asked an English-speaking gentleman at the desk whether I could pay to use their wireless service. "No way! We Americans have to take care of each other! There's no way I'm going to charge." So, "Max" let me set up in their lobby. I am a bit perturbed at how the emotions rise and fall with my internet connectivity! But it felt great to be wired into a strong network. I could finally get some work done.

Started updating the blog, then after a short time, lost access. "What the hell is going on today? Sunspots???" Trying to get some news on "blogger", I tried connecting to "Google". When I put in their web address, it called up their Argentina site, in Spanish! "Okay, I think I'm losing it here..."

The frustration was almost unbearable. A clearer head would have taken a hint and found something else to do; go to a museum or show. But not me. I'm going to muscle through (as in muscle brain.)

The day had been a complete waste up until now. Trying to salvage the afternoon, I decided to listen to "Democracy Now's" Friday program. The video feed didn't work and the audio was garbled, but at least I had a connection.

Mysteriously, "blogger" popped up a couple hours later. It was then I saw on their site that they had taken it down for maintenance today. Okay, I wasn't totally whacked.

Worked past 8:00 p.m., having long ago become a fixture in this lobby. Had a cappuccino, and a beer along the way, patronizing their bar (so I didn't feel totally like a freeloader.)

As I was leaving, Max said "you're still here??"

I thanked him for all the help.

"If you walk through that front door, you're treated like a customer. I don't care if you're staying with us, or not."

This guy has a great attitude!

Returned to "Salon China" for dinner, having an excellent Cantonese chicken. A bargain.

1 comment:

Drew Kampion said...

I predict that Tim's next blog entry will come from the little-known village of Cajamarca, Peru!