Internet in Cuba

A few random thoughts on Internet (or lack thereof) during our recent week-long holiday in Cuba…

  • I am happy to report that I didn’t have any seizures or meltdowns after a week without Internet access of any kind.  (In comparison, even when we went to Mexico in 2003, I ended up going to a nearby mall to check e-mail a couple times during the week.)
  • Even knowing Internet wasn’t available, I decided to take my iPhone so Pace would have games and movies on the plane and also because it would be happy for snapping quickie photos when we were there.  (I also had a few Spanish-English dictionary apps loaded but only made use of them with our taxi driver when we went to Havana.  I can’t wait until the iPhone is like a Star Trek translator.  Actually, a basic form is already here – and, best of all, it doesn’t even need an Internet connection to work! I didn’t buy the app because I didn’t think I would use it but wish I had.)
  • I’d read conflicting reports about plugging in an iPhone in Cuba but luckily our hotel, even though it had 220V outlets throughout, did have one in the bathroom that had a switch to flip to 110V and even more fortunately, my iPhone actually did charge when I plugged it in.  Plus there were no power surges or other weirdness to turn my phone into an iBrick.
  • On that note, probably the times I missed the Net the most were when I had any type of question – Who is Jose Marti?  What is the population of Havana – and other trivial minutia like that which we now take for granted having answers at our fingertips.  (I think you can download a non-Net enabled version of Wikipedia and that probably would’ve covered many of my questions.)
  • I observed to Shea that once we got out of the resort, Cuba had many similarities to what life was like for our grandparents – struggling to get by, rural-based lifestyles, animals on the roadways, limited travel options for most, none or few of the conveniences of modern life – from electricity to telephone, let alone Internet, maybe even knowing that you’re at a transitional period in your country’s history?
  • In the very earliest days of the mainstream Internet, there was a lot of talk about “Internet addiction” as a new disease.  I recently read an article which wondered if that was still a concern/reality or if it’s just “the way things are now” with many people connected 24/7 via their home computers, smart phones, work computers, ubiquitous wifi and city-wide wireless plans that either exist (in Regina, covering our downtown and the University) or are in the works.  (I’m not sure if going without Internet for a whole week means I don’t have Internet addiction but I’m going to say that it does!)
  • Internet at the hotel was something like $5 for half an hour of dial-up type access.  No one in our group used it though my brother-in-law’s girlfriend contemplated using it to e-mail home, especially when she realised she had to go to the Marina to make international calls!
  • On that note, I had my iPhone on “Airplane” mode the entire week but briefly turned it on to see if it would pick up signal.  It did (Cubatel) and I even dialed my parent’s number in Canada but chickened out when I got a Cuban operator.  (Just got my Rogers bill and that little one minute experiment cost me $3.)

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