I have lamented before how fearful I am that my life depends on Wifi. Every search for a hostel begins with a check for WiFi and reviews about how strong it was. Sadly, the checkmark on Hostelbookers or AirBnb is not a guarantee. All WiFi is not created equal and I have about an 80% success rate finding a consistent WiFi.
A shout out to TMobile Global that has kept me connected even when the WiFi hasn’t been the best. In each new country I am greeted with a message: “Welcome to Brazil, Welcome to Chile, Welcome to Bolivia” although I swore they told me Bolivia wasn’t included.
This WiFi dependence has given me pause for thought about what all this connectivity means. As I watched people struggle to find a plug or the right adapter during the connection in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Chile, it felt more like a new form of slavery than progress.
Then I arrived in San Pedro de Atacama. A town that exists primarily as a waystation for travelers going to or from Bolivia across the vast and starkly beautiful Bolivian desert, by jeep. When I strolled into the center of town I was greeted by
WiFi has become commerce engine for the tourist industry in South and Central America. Two years ago on a trip to Peru I benefited from the country-wide network by tour operator had created with her cellphone. Her entire country was now quickly available to her. The Peruvians on the Island of Taquille, in the middle of the vast Lake Titicaca, were connected to the world through the satellite dishes on the roofs of their homes, powered by solar panels.
Mobile technology is changing the world. If I didn’t believe that before, I was convinced when I sat next to a traditionally dressed Bolivian women on the night bus to La Paz talking on her cell phone.
When we crossed the desert in our jeeps we spent the night in unheated outpost where the electricity was provided by a generator that was turned off by 8pm. It was comical (not to the Bolivian drivers) when they had to find a power strip for the power hungry touristas with their iPhones and iPads.
So, our globe becomes smaller and smaller as WiFi and the machines that it powers create an international gateway that will rule the world.