FINCA TATIN, Guatemala- Before leaving the USA I provisioned myself with a Verizon Blackberry with a global data plan. With this device, I can go to just about any country in the world and expect to have access to the internet. I pay in full for this service — $65 a month — but each time I am able to blog from a hotel room where I would otherwise need to go out and find an internet cafe, or stay in an out of the way location longer because the Blackberry can access the internet, the price that I pay feels worth it.
The Verizon global data plan has lengthened my tether. I can now travel a little farther, and stay there a little longer.
Since leaving Antigua around a week and a half ago I have been publishing exclusively through the Blackberry. I write the travelogue entries on my laptop, send them over to the Blackberry along with photos, and then publish them through a special WordPress application.
I have spent the past four days at the Finca Tatin on the Rio Dulce in the east of Guatemala. There is no WIFI here, no internet connections, but there is cell coverage, and I can blog as usual. I can browse the internet, answer emails, do background research for blog posts, and publish. I cannot do everything that I want through the Blackberry — it is not really possible to edit code — but I can blog, and this means that I can keep the wolves of obligation at bay, do my job, and enjoy the jungle.
I feel compelled to publish on this travelogue daily, I call it a daily travel column, and the Blackberry allows me to do so while going to the places where I wish to go, without being perpetually harnessed to the internet cafes and WIFI signals.
I can again get slightly farther off the map, and into the places that I am traveling in.
One of the major downsides to running this website has always been that it had the effect of hemming in my travels: I can go out into no man’s land, but I can’t stay for too long. I want to publish daily, or at least almost daily, and I can’t do this without access to the internet every single day.
Every traveler serious about blogging knows what a shear face plant in the mud it is to be sitting around in internet cafes all day long when you could otherwise be out meeting people, checking out new places — exploring — traveling.
The Verizon Global Data plan has not worked 100% perfectly, 100% of the time. These devices with global access are in their infancy. In some areas with otherwise widespread cell coverage, such as in Antigua or the north of the Dominican Republic, I found it very difficult to get a signal. But the device worked wonderfully in Haiti, on the western borderlands of the Dominican Republic, and in the east of Guatemala.
As I sit and write this travelogue entry from the jungle of Guatemala — a place with no road access — I do so with relief of a man who knows that he subverted a lengthy task and has made life a little easier: I can sit back in the jungle and publish without needing to travel a half hour by boat to the nearest town with internet. I feel relieved that the Blackberry at least works most of the time.
I am now able to alternate cell connections with easy access WIFI to, hopefully, add to this internet publishing mission a sense of a little more urgency and professionalism. I am trying to make a life off of this website while living a life of travel. Having two options to get online allows me to better blend these two objectives.
I am sitting outside under a little thatch roof over a picnic table, lizards are running by, sometimes I see snakes, there are only plants, trees, leaves, and moss all around me, and I am able to publish travelogue entries. My tether is a little longer, I can now work from the jungle, I no longer need to hover near to internet cafes like a moth before a night light, I no longer need to make camp around a good WIFI connections, I can travel a little farther, further, freer.