Friday, July 29, 2011

Of Birthdays And Chore Days

From the log of Capt. Matty Black

The day before yesterday was our first full day by ourselves on this Grand Voyage. It was also Jennifer’s birthday. Her present was a set of lava stone earrings from San Miguel, the island of her maternal ancestry.

We have switched gears from eating out all the time to buying fruits, cheese and figs that are so juicy they drip all over your fingers when you eat them. We take our little picnic to a park and eat there.

To cap off Jennifer’s birthday, we took a cab ride to a 300-year-old fort on the coast, which had been converted into a restaurant and hotel. There we enjoyed drinks and appetizers as we watched the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean which we had crossed.

Yesterday was in stark contrast to our day of rest. All we needed to do was drop off our auto-steering device for servicing, buy some pins at the marine store, pick up mail waiting for us at the post office in Lisbon, and try to upgrade our internet connection device. Four stops.

This would be, at home, perhaps a one-hour set of errands. Maybe two because all phone/internet stores are notoriously slow.

It took us ALL DAY! We didn’t get home until 9 p.m. And we only got two out of three tasks done! It was a day of trains, metros, buses, cabs, and lots of lots of walking in 90-degree Fahrenheit weather – all just to get to the post-office and the phone store.

Today, we will have to complete the other two errands.

To add insult to injury: The phone store (By the way: this was Vodaphone’s Portugese flagship headquater’s store) told us that there is no possible way on Earth that we can buy a single connection device for our computer which would give us internet access in all of Europe.

In each country, we will have to throw away our old device (a $40 unit – and that is just for slow access) and find an internet store and buy a new device and sign up for that country’s plan.

ARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

In this day and age, it is impossible to belief that we cannot get universal internet access.

Oh, yes, there is ubiquitous so-called “free” Wi-Fi. But that is turning out to be practically useless. The marina Wi-Fi’s are so heavily used that you often can’t connect, or you get kicked off.

The other option is to pay for a coffee at a cafe, and struggle with their systems. Sometimes the password they give you works, sometimes they don’t.

And besides, it’s just awkward to either Skype with friends while in a noisy and public cafe, or to spread out all your invoices and bills.

For three days, I have been trying to get a good internet session. And without luck. Some of that is because we have to take turns using this single internet-connection device and yesterday was Jennifer’s turn.

Ok, ok, enough of this ranting and raving. All of this is just to say that you please need to be patient with us. We want to stay in touch and are trying, but it is not easy.

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