Nuances of life in a developing country…Managing tech issues…

Tom was engrossed in watching the ski movie on the projection screen in Baka Blues bar/restaurant in the Arts Village.

With another power outage last night shortly after dinner continuing well into the night after we’d gone to be, we lay there feeling hot and sticky with no cooling fan to lighten the air’s thickness, counting how many days we’ve been without electricity.

We’ll have spent a total of 119 days living on two islands in Fiji since arriving by prop plane on September 8, 2015 and soon to depart on January 4, 2016, only one week from today.

Running through all the days and nights we spent without power in Vanua Levu and now again in Viti Levu, in all we counted 11 days of our time in this developing country.

In the past, I’ve tactlessly referred to a few countries as “third world” and for that, I apologize to all the citizens of many countries for using this archaic expression.

In today’s world the term “developing” country is more appropriate in describing countries that may not have access to funds to provide the utmost in consistent, reliable utility and wifi services with Fiji falling into that category.

There were few diners at Baka Blues in Arts Village at our early arrival time.

Fiji, in its desire and intent in providing free medical care, good schools, and low taxes finds itself forfeiting some other aspects to life in their country; good roads, programs for the elderly, and certain assistance programs often found in other parts of the world in more “developed” countries, resulting in higher tax rates and costs of living.

I won’t get into the political climate of Fiji or other countries. Bottom line, the power has gone out on 11 different days since our arrival…10% of the time. We experienced a similar situation while living in Kenya a few years ago, frequent power outages at times lasting for over 24 hours.

Then again, living in the US, we experienced a few days of power outages every few years as a result of downed power lines from intense spring and summer storms, resulting in our eventual purchase of a gas-powered generator wired to the whole house. Those reasons for the outages may be different, although they were nonetheless annoying and inconvenient.

My biggest concern is always the food in the refrigerator and the power not being restored in time to salvage our entire cold food supply. Secondly, our concerns for running down the batteries on our phones and laptops to the point where we can no longer read or entertain ourselves, instead, sitting in the dark twiddling our thumbs, are not pleasing by any means.

The lack of fans to keep the air moving is the next concern when often the heat and humidity have contributed to the power outage when those with air-con are running their units and others, like us, running multiple floor and ceiling fans constantly.

Most diners don’t head out to bar/restaurants until later in the evening. It was quiet while we were there around 6:45 pm.

Of course, we’ve been thrilled to have screens in this more modern house in Pacific Harbour, a rarity in most developing countries. The locals seem to become immune to the bites of the mozzies and more comfortable allowing a wide array of insects and other creatures free access into their homes when leaving doors wide open. 

We’re not quite there yet and may never be. For us, it’s the mozzies more than other creatures that prevent us from leaving doors and windows without screens open all day to allow for more airflow.

When the power returned during the night, we were thrilled. We’ve learned to prepare before going to bed when the power is out; unplug the TV so it doesn’t come back on with the power; turn off lights and fans in living areas and turn on the fans in the bedroom to avoid the necessity of getting out of bed if the power is restored during the night.

There was that.  Then, over the past several days, my Windows 8.1 touchscreen laptop, purchased in Hawaii last year, developed some issues. I won’t bore our less-interested-in-technology readers as to the extent of the issues which were wide in scope. 

The only solution was to “refresh” my PC which always results in a loss of many apps and downloaded programs I use (such as MS Office) with the necessity of spending an entire day to restore these programs and apps. 

Tom enjoyed his fries and onion rings but said the beef had a spicy flavor he didn’t care for. We were in a restaurant that had a Cajun flavor most likely resulting in the use of a grill seasoned with the spices which he doesn’t like.  It was bo fault of the restaurant.

Over these years I’ve sweat bullets when either of us had what may have proven to be irreparable computer issues. Now, with more experience in repairing issues and with the experience of purchasing a new (inferior brand) laptop a few years ago in South Africa (I’d dropped and broke the screen making it unusable), I take these issues in stride. No longer do my palms sweat and no longer does my heart race while attempting to figure out a solution.

Using a cloud service to store all of our important files and documents and with our external two terabytes hard drive which we use frequently to back up our data, the bigger concern revolves around where and how to purchase a replacement if necessary.

If a new computer is to be shipped to us, there’s no way to avoid paying customs fees or such potential fees when exiting the country. In any case, yesterday, before the power went out, I was able to restore my laptop to 95% efficiency leaving only one touchscreen issue preventing me from performing the frequently used right to left-hand gesture swipe.

Need I say, I looked online for hours to find a solution for this remaining issue. Either the suggestions didn’t work or were impractical for my system. I even contacted Acer, the manufacturer, and “spoke” to one of their tech reps via a chat, requesting a solution to no avail. She said, “Do a refresh of the system,” which I’d already done.

I’ve decided to live with the remaining issues instead implementing a few extra clicks to perform a similar task, with a “workaround” for the rest. It will do for now. When we’ll be able to purchase new equipment remains a mystery at this point, most likely waiting until it’s absolutely a must resulting in our paying customs and shipping fees for a replacement for one, if not both of us.

My salad was fabulous with smoky flavored chicken and extra hard-boiled eggs. There was no dressing on the menu that worked for me so I ordered a side of sour cream, usually a good alternative.

On the agenda today?  It’s been raining 11 days in a row, soaking bursts, making walking and going out unappealing. The laundry I’d washed and hung two days ago is still damp. I may have to bring it indoors to hang it around the house, hoping it will soon dry from the airflow of the fans. 

Life in the tropics as we’ve known it over this past year including a tremendous number of rainy days, coupled with many days without power, leaves us feeling good about the next leg of our journey; easy days cruising; cool, sunny, and less humid 89 days in New Zealand; and then off to another tropical climate in Bali which by April, we’ll be ready to enjoy once again.

Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2014:

This was one of our favorite photos while on the Big Island. The entire family took an evening trip to Mount Kilauea to see the erupting volcano and we captured this shot more by a fluke than anything. It was exciting for our kids and grandkids to see an erupting volcano with us. Who has ever had an opportunity to see an erupting volcano in a lifetime? For more volcano photos, please click here.

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