Saturday, 19 February 2011

Run Up the Flag and Let‘s See Who Salutes

Too many businesses are getting way too savvy, getting way too security conscious, so we’ve developed a strategy to combat them that is, on occasions successful.  Firstly ask at the tourist office, to which we get one of two answers; “all businesses have one”, translation: all secured, or, “try the internet café”, translation: “we’ve got one, but I’ll be damned if you’re getting to play on it”.  Next, find the YPF petrol station, hunt the logo, and see if they are connected.  If they are, then they always give us the code, of course we buy a coffee that can be made to last an hour.  Some town halls are remarkably enlightened, openly offering the service, as part of attracting service and visitors into staying in town.  This collection comes courtesy of one such: Villa Union.  Some hotels give access then sting with a charge.  Should this game plan fail we revert to establishing ourselves in the plazza, extract the net book from it’s dust proofed bag, fire up and see who answers back. There’s always a few, but the connection is naught above a bar, need to get closer, yet the domain address can be convoluted, contrived or plain abstract; it’s out there but which way to head?  The Editor goes for a walk, perambulating the square.

Chos Malal: we’ve accumulated a supply of material, a need to do some business, we need to communicate. We need a hot spot.  It’s a Sunday so we’re negated from one source, the internet café, the locotorio, yet several named addresses are available.  So the Navigator cum Forager lives up to her title and heads off on the hunt to divine and source a connection.  Eventually success comes from a new and unexpected source - the local hospital.  It even has a shaded bench right outside.

We can now communicate, until the battery power gives out, or the techno gremlins in league with that supreme of the thwart: Señor Murphy interfere.  There was a time when you searched for a landline, now that’s a sign of the old times.  In these new times, with the advance of mobile ‘phones, finding a public call box is near impossible.  They were never a common piece of street furniture here; people relied on the locutorio, yet these too are in decline, some we locate have their windows covered over with fading, five year old newspapers.  Closed for siesta, closed never to reopen again.

Sometimes you feel that the Victorian explorers of a previous age had an easier time of it.  Maybe they didn’t have the advantages of accurate maps, NHS travel clinics or clean bed linen, but they could get away with a note sent home to their sponsors every second year.  An attachment to a cargo of plundered curios and a box of specimen plants.  It was Dervla Murphy who tells of the pleasure of travelling in a pre internet age, in the Shah’s Iran.  She would be unable to contact any of her kin for a whole six weeks.  No ‘phones.  Letters too slow.  Responsibilities only for herself.  Such decadent irresponsibility.

Of course the internet and all it’s associated appendages are an advantage, a great support vehicle.  I wouldn’t have the fun of producing these missives, of publishing photos, of gleaning some information on what to expect further up the road, or of that recommendation for tonight’s parilla.  It’s just how remarkable a morning can evaporate, how much battery power can disappear in the exercise.  For stolen Wi-Fi never comes with a power point.

We are still grateful to the unsavvy or the plain philanthropic who wittingly or unwittingly allow us to plunder their connections.