#44: Loading

I couldn’t write to you last night because the internet, it seems, everywhere I’ve been in Bolivia, has been so slow that I have become intimately familiar with previously unregistered details of my phone and computer habits. With the orange “Connecting…” bar in Facebook’s Messenger app, the way email notifications show up my locked phone’s home screen only if the email app was the last one I was using. I’ll get a skeleton list of Instagram photos and come away with only the sense that friends are taking pictures but not of who or what or where. I try to find restaurant recommendations, look up information about Andean herbs, file my taxes and sign up for health insurance. I become grateful for sites that don’t have images or ads or fancy javascript, embedded fonts. I’ve spent countless minutes waiting for that orange connecting bar to turn green, waiting for the light blue background of a speech bubble to turn dark blue, waiting for the first little green “sent” checkmark at the bottom of a Whatsapp to appear, waiting for the Gmail loading bar, watching a video Skype degrade until I’m just talking to a gray and brown blob. I have seen various spinners spin tens of thousands of revolutions. In a hostel in Copacabana, a sign on the wall apologized for all of this, and gave a detailed explanation of how they are paying a hundred US dollars a month for their service and they had tried to set up a fibre connection but the only company who provides it is at capacity, but hopefully things will be better when the new satellite goes up in January (the sign had clearly been up for a while). It follows an adage I’d heard earlier on this trip: no internet is better than slow internet.

Although: Slow isn’t quite the right word to describe the internet here. Temperamental is more like it. It seems to work the best at seven o’clock in the morning, and can drop on you on occasion midday but is otherwise manageable, then it progressively degrades later into the afternoon until it’s more or less unusable at dusk and thunderstorms. The internet here works like the sun. And for someone like me who depends on it for sustenance, it practically is the sun. My crops are different and my farmland is infinite, and my uniform unlike the chorlita women here who wear shiny skirts and wool cardigans and bowler hats and their hair in pigtails, but my farm is subject to the same over and underexposure. And as this analogy would have it, procrastinating on the internet, for me, is like suffering a drought. It does me good when the sun is gone, cause then the rain can come. The difference back home is that I’m also the one controlling the weather.

And so I write to you, while I still can today, before I leave this afternoon on a flight for Santa Cruz, in Southeast of Bolivia. I’d like to say I’ve adapted to the new hours of daylight here but I know that, once I settle into the hotel, it will be the same process all over again: asking for the wifi password, connecting, waiting, waiting, waiting.