|Our own hotspot. On the right is our MiFi that we’ve rented from XCom Global providing us with high speed Internet connection worldwide. Unfortunately, due to our current location in the mountains of Tuscany, we’re unable to get a good signal.
What a day! When the wireless broadband went down last night we were worried. Our MiFi, unable to pick up a signal since we arrived in Boveglio, for which we continue to pay monthly rental fees, recently has been a source of frustration.
Sending it back to the company for the $79.00 shipping fees each way made no sense. We’ll need it again in 60 days plus, when we venture out from Boveglio and… if we get low enough in the mountains, we do receive a signal for use with our smartphones. This enables us full access to Google Maps while driving and the Internet for points of interest and information on the areas we’re visiting.
Most likely , we’ll be needing it again when we arrive in Kenya (where we’ll have a better connection. It’s the mountains impeding the signal in Tuscany).
To further clarify for new readers, there are two ways we can connect to the Internet while living in our vacation homes worldwide:
1. Through wireless broadband available at the property (a criteria for us in our travels) similar to what you are using to access the Internet from your home or office.
2. Utilizing a MiFi, a wireless portable wireless credit card-sized device that we rent monthly. We cannot purchase the unit due to the unique contracts that XCOM GLOBAL has arranged with Internet providers all over the world (in most countries) that provide the device with the signal, once we’ve charged it and turned it on to connect wirelessly with our laptops, smart phones, and other wireless devices. It’s battery lasts approximately three hours and then must be charged again for another three hours. We are able to use it while charging.
As we drove higher and higher into the mountains of Tuscany on June 16, 2013, we’d hoped we’d continue to receive a signal all the way up on the winding mountain roads. About 25 minutes before arriving in Boveglio, we lost the signal, never to return.
Thus, we’ve became dependent upon the wireless broadband available in our temporary home which the owners, Lisa and Luca. assured us would provide a good signal 24/7 during our stay. Unfortunately, they have no control on outages experienced by the local provider in the region.
Apparently, last night around 11:00 PM, service to the general area experienced an outage. Awaking this morning we were disappointed to discover that there still was no service.
Of course, we became worried, concerned that it could be a week or more until it was restored, as had been the case when the cable TV service went out just before we arrived leaving us with no TV until about a week ago. There are only two English speaking programs available, Bloomberg TV and MSNBC, both news channels. \With these two news channels we are able to be aware of what is transpiring in the US and worldwide, important as we travel to some high risk areas.
We had no expectations of watching regular US programming while in many countries. For entertainment purposes, which we all need from time to time, when we want to wind down and relax, we’d downloaded a few hundred shows and movies on our “MY PASSPORT,” a two terabyte external hard drive, its shows to be saved for days like today…rainy, cold, windy, and no connection.
Some have asked, “Why do we need to be online so much of the time?” There are several reasons for us:
1. To be able to write and post this blog.
2. To be able to maintain contact with family and friends via email and Skype at all times.
3. To be able to maintain financial matters, all of which are available online: banking, investing, credit cards, payments for future rentals and transportation, etc.
4. To be able to receive and view our online “snail mail” from our mailing service.
5. To be able to investigate further locations we hope to visit in the future.
6. To book hotels and transportation getting us from place to place.
7. Organizing and arranging maps and points of interest for our weekly excursions away from our temporary home.
8. Look up medical questions, instructions, recipes and language translation.
9. Download books to read. (Once downloaded, no Internet connection is required).
10. Book reservations for restaurants. Had we not done this for dining out last Saturday, we’d have been turned away at the restaurant, as we observed happening to other “walk-in” diners.
11. Staying in touch with the property owners of upcoming rentals, asking questions, making future payments.
12. Entertainment. When all else is said and done, playing with our computers is enjoyable: games, streaming radio and TV shows, watching movies, staying in touch with family and friends via Facebook or, simply reading the wealth of information at our fingertips, keeping our brains active and hungering for more knowledge.
Yes, we prefer to be outdoors as much as possible on a warm days experiencing our surroundings. But days like today, remind us how much we utilize this amazing tool, the Internet, that honestly, without it we’d have had a lot less enthusiasm or interest in traveling the world.
We often speak of how difficult and cumbersome arranging long term travel was for our ancestors. How they ever managed is beyond us.
Some travelers use travel agencies which are quickly becoming obsolete with the advent of the Internet growing worldwide. With the complexity of our travels, we definitely prefer to take responsibility for making our own arrangements, connecting all the dots along the way. (Although, we’ve used Joaquin at Vacations to Go for all of our cruises and will continue to do so).
Also, travel agents don’t often handle the single family vacation homes we’ve been able to find and subsequently rent for our preferred periods of time.
How did we entertain ourselves today while “out of touch?” We washed more laundry, finding covered spots in which to dry it considering the inclement weather.
We made a great breakfast of scrambled eggs with sautéed onions and Crimini mushrooms with Emmenthuler cheese and a side of Italian sausage and regular bacon which we were surprised to find at the grocery store in Pescia. Together, we chopped vegetables for tonight’s dinner.
We found a deck of cards and played “Gin” for several hours for the first time in many years. We’d forgotten the rules, playing anyway and it all came back to us. We weren’t able to look up the rules online! I won.Tom forgot that he always won years ago. I’m a lousy loser.He’s worse.
Feeling frustrated for a lack of entertainment for Saturday night and not wanting to drive the winding roads that had many warning signs, “Slippery when wet,” we’d decided to stay in tonight. Preferring to save our downloaded books in the event it could be a long period without Internet, we hesitated to spend the entire evening reading.
For the first time since we left Scottsdale, Arizona at the end of December 2012, I plugged in My Passport, external hard drive, browsing to determine which shows and movies we might watch tonight.
Actually, with no TV at all in Kenya, we’d hope to save all the downloaded videos to watch during the almost three months we’ll be living there. Ah, what the heck! Tonight would be the perfect night to watch a few!
Moments after plugging the device into my computer, I heard the familiar little sound of an arriving email. “We’re back on!” I yelled out to Tom, causing him to be startled. Yes, we were back on.
Quickly, I sat down in this not-so-comfy kitchen chair and began typing away, anxious to let our readers that we’re still here. Some readers, who hadn’t received the automatic emails (which is now working again) assumed that we’d either fallen off the steep road while driving or we’d quit writing.
I’ll promise this, dear readers… If we don’t write a word for two or more days, either we’re traveling (it takes two calendar days to arrive in Kenya), the Internet is down or something unfortunate has happened to us. In every case, we will post at the first opportunity, sharing the story and photos describing our absence.
“Consistency” is our middle name or, if you’d prefer the less braggadocios version…we’re rampant creatures of habit. We don’t expect that traveling the world will ever change that!