We all have an addiction of one form or another. Mine is to be connected whenever I need to be and wherever I am. Since living in Mallorca, I have worked through several ways to feed my addiction. Whilst living on Angelina, I had a Vodafone wireless PCMIA card-thingy that I would slot into my computer on the boat. It was bog slow, but it did work. When I bought La Antigua, I installed Telefonica’s version of ADSL and then immediately adapted it so that my entire house would be wireless. Life was good. And then I moved to Sol y Mar and repeated the process – order ADSL from Telefonica and then install a wireless router so I could be connected without being bogged down by a cable. Again, life was good.
But because I am a bit cautionary at times, this summer, I signed on to another broadband service. This one did not rely on a telephone line. It was a service that operated through a system that has a huge tower located on a nearby mountain. Because I can see the tower from my roof terrace at Sol y Mar (okay, I can see the top of the mountain and I know the tower is there), I was able to receive the wireless broadband signal. The signal then goes down a wire into my house where it is plugged into a wireless router. Voila! After going through all the installation issues, I now had two broadband sources, ensuring that I would always be able to be connected. And then last week happened.
We had this little storm go crunching across the island. I say little, but the winds were clocked at in excess of 120kph on parts of the island and the rain came down as if a huge fire-hose had been opened above Mallorca. The storm was great to see as it was occurring. The rain came down in various angles, mostly of the horizontal variety; the waves of the sea were 3 meters high and were pounding onto the shoreline below Sol y Mar at the speed of a locomotive gone mad; and the wind was sending branches and chairs flying about. My first indication of the strength of the storm was evident when the sculpture on my front terrace was torn apart. And then two of the trees across the street fell down…and landed on the electrical lines feeding the neighbourhood…and on my telephone line. Interestingly, the phone line, although stretched so taut that it could have been part of a guitar and almost touching the ground, still was working. But that all ended when a work crew came out the next day to sort out the mess. They chopped the tree up, but in the process, cut through my phone line. Great. No phone, and consequently, no broadband. But, due to my cunning back up system, I was still able to stay connected. Life was still good.
I rang the phone company (Telefonica) and reported the ‘downed’ line. They said they would send someone out as soon as possible…and you know what that can mean. I did realise that I was the only person in the neighbourhood whose phone service was interrupted, so my problem may not be a priority on an island where parts of it were seriously messed up from the storm. I phoned them again the next day. I had a neighbour phone them, reasoning that if a native Spanish-speaker rang, they might be better able to communicate my problem. All through this turmoil, things were still okay for my connectability because I had the back-up system functioning as if nothing had happened. And then yesterday my back-up system went down. I don’t know if the mountain-top tower fell over or what. All I know is that suddenly, I was not connected. It was then I realised how addicted I was to being connected.
I phoned the mountain-top-back-up-broadband supplier, but they didn’t even answer their phone. I called Telefonica again, thinking that at least I had my mobile working so I could talk to someone, but also realised that the broadband people I was talking to were still busy sorting out the other communications problems on the island. Buggers.
Yesterday afternoon, I managed to find a wireless signal floating around my house from a neighbour I assumed. I really didn’t care where the signal was coming from, all I knew that I was able to tap into it so my computer was once again humming along. Sadly, that signal disappeared rather quickly. By last night I had developed a metaphorical twitch, which by this morning had turned into a near case of ‘no broadband epilepsy.’ Not a pretty picture, and good no one was around. I wasn’t in the best of moods. My need to be connected was becoming a bit obsessive so early this morning, I took my lap-top and went to a local café that kindly has wireless broadband for their customers. I ordered some tea and toast and found the signal. By the time I had answered the most important email traffic that had been plugging up my machine, I had finished by breakfast and went home, only to find the Telefonica man on a ladder installing a new line. I still don’t know what happened to my back-up system – those buggers still aren’t answering their phone – but at least life here as resumed to my version of normal…so to speak.
I realised through this entire episodic comedy that perhaps I am a bit too addicted to being connected whenever and wherever I want. And for a second or two, I actually thought about beginning to turn my computer off for several hours each day. I think I will do that…as soon as I see pigs flying.
back in the good old 'connected' days at La Antigua
the remnants of the front terrace sculpture
the offending trees, now laying down after the storm
roof terrace damage from a tree in the garden...
...that Tomeu later did some surgery on
when I will stop being addicted to being connected
copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley