Friday, October 14, 2005

Nobody Looks Up in the Internet Café

Had my first experience in an Internet Café in Costa Rica. With directions swimming in my head—go past the escuela, past the futbol field, and on la isquerda you’ll see a sign reading Le Chante—we spotted a little orange, concrete building perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Putting the rented Daihatsu in park, we read a sign saying “Abierto a 1:30." Open at 1:30, still fifteen minutes away. This was fine. We could easily fill fifteen minutes. We went back down the road to the supermercado and bought some Pringles. My husband and I have a thing about eating Pringles potato chips in every country we visit. I’m eating them as I type. Crunch. Crunch.

Upon our return the Internet Café was in full swing. One couple in the corner laughed over e-mails, another couple huddled over their computer, clearly into some heavy research. Since I wanted to use my own computer, I asked the young boy running the shop if he had wireless.

“¿Tienes wireless?” I asked. Believing high tech to be its own language, it didn’t occur to me to try and come up with a Spanish word for Wireless. But it did me no good. El niño had no idea what I was talking about.

So, we pulled out the laptops and watched his face immediately brighten. He led us to one of the computers, bent to the floor and handed me a cable, and motioned for me to sit. The cable was a USB cable, which I promptly plugged into my laptop. I called up my browser and received no connection. My husband then picked up the USB cable and followed it to the source. It led to a mouse. Oops. I don’t know the Spanish word for mouse, but of course I’m wondering now if it sounds something like the word “wireless.”

Rather than try and communicate further, my able-bodied husband got down on his hands and knees, found the cat-five cable and plugged me in. And within a few slow, Spanish seconds, I was online. That was my first five minutes. I spent forty more uploading blogs and book reviews (I have a lot of time to read and write on vacation) and checking my e-mail. all at about the speed of an afternoon siesta.

From the moment I logged on, I completely forgot about the couple in the corner, the couple doing research, my husband scrambling on the floor for another cat-five and el niño behind the cash register monitoring my minutes. I was dining heavy at the Internet Café.

Our sessions at El Chante cost about three bucks. Por todo. This led us to believe that time may be slow, but it sure is cheap in Third World Cyberspace.

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