From the start, National Geographic was very up front that there is no wi-fi on the plane and “free” wi-fi of mixed quality at each hotel; this might have figured more closely into my decision to write a blog. It might have been easier to just send out an email blast. I’m going to try to rate our hotels below by the quality of the wi-fi, on a scale of 1 to 10
Hotel Mirador Trujillo, Trujillo, Peru - 5
Belmont Miraflores Park, Lima, Peru - 4
Hangaroa Eco-Village and Spa, Easter Island, Chile; 2
Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Resort- 5
Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple and Resort, Australia 1
Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, Cambodia - 6
Shangri-La, Cheng-du - 0
St. Regis Lhasa Resort, Tibet - 1
The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India - 4
Four Seasons, Serengeti - 7
Movenpick, Petra, Jordan 8
La Mamounia, Marrakech, Morocco 4
At some of these stops, it has taken 30 minutes to successfully upload a single photo, which has left me tearing my hair out and and which is why I’ve taken to uploading the text first, and then adding the photos later. The trip was so jam-packed that we rarely had a contiguous hour for me to work on the blog, unless it was because we’d decided against attending a lecture.
Contributing to the problem, for which I will curse Apple, “AirDrop” works between my phone and computer only in an odd state in which both my phone and my computer have wi-fi and Bluetooth turned on, but the computer must not actually be connected to wi-fi; otherwise, the phone is invisible to the computer. Go figure.
Lacking consistent internet access has made part of this trip feel like a step back in time. We have questions we want to have answered, “Is humid air more dense than dry air?” “What is that set of stars in the sky?” “Where are schools located in Agra, India?” and the questions linger unanswered because we can’t access the internet. It’s a feast of ignorance or a famine of knowledge. I find myself wondering whether we actually ask MORE questions today, are actually MORE curious than we used to be because we CAN get more answers when we have wi-fi. We are also conscious of questions that cannot be answered: WHY did the Moche civilization collapse? HOW did different cultures reasonably accommodate the cultures they conquered? Does a large tomb indicate ancestor worship?
All over Agra, we could see people looking at their cellphones. As we walked through the village of untouchables in Agra, some “houses” had electricity, some had TVs, some had toilets. I asked whether any had internet, or whether the village had a centralized location for internet access. The answer was: no internet. Is that because many can’t read? Is internet access just so high up on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that it isn’t possible? Is it because they access the internet on cell phones or at work? What could the Indian government accomplish if its poor had access, besides losing an entire generation to MineCraft? How could a village apportion time on the internet?