Not that anybody would care . . . after i “abandoned” my blog for ages. Wow, how time flies! It’s actually been six months now since I’ve visited my own site. When I set foot in Ethiopia last February 1 (yes, for those who didn’t know, I made it here), first thing I wanted to do was update you guys about my escapades, of course. You know, the usual how I survived the infamous Immigration officials, how I managed to sneak 13 kilograms more into my luggage, how I resisted the urge to snap photos of the magnificient airport in Dubai (lest I will end up in Philippine television before spending a night in jail), etc., etc. Well, what do you know? Blogspot (along with Skype and others) was/is actually banned here! For what reason, only goodness knows. Tried several times to access it to no avail. But six months after, what do you know, I’m blogging again!
Hope my excitement is not shortlived, though, because, my friend, communication technology in this country is just “state of the art”. I actually have no words for it, honestly. I don’t know what’s the trend now back home, but here broadband and wireless Internet have just been introduced. Forget about cellphone wallet, Internet banking, and stuff like that—they don’t exist here. Checking and writing e-mails could be a pain that I’ve almost given up on it. While Internet cafes are sprouting like mushrooms and while home-based Internet subscriptions are skyrocketing back home, Internet places here are as scarce as dressed chicken. And they charge outrageous rates: 25 Ethiopian birr an hour (106 Philippine pesos). Violent reactions, anyone?
Speaking of outrageous, let’s talk about the mobile phone network. Now, since the Internet and mobile network is monopolized by a government-owned company, what do you expect? The network could just misbehave and you’ll just have to bear it because there’s simply no way you can control it. It reminds me of how “spoiled” we are at home. When an Internet connection slows or a message is not sent, we dial customer service hotlines in a flash, scream at the poor call center guys, and then get refunded for whatever inconvenience they have caused us. Forget it here.
Calling home is always a lottery. Either you get through or you don’t. Texting home? Are you kidding me? Since I’ve been here, I only received two calls from my family (though they’ve been trying my phone endlessly) and one text message (during my birthday; God is good). Now please don’t ask me why I don’t call or you will have a tongue lashing, my dearest.
Now the power situation. When I first came here, there was a scheduled power cut one day a week, then it became two days, then it became three…now we have power every other day. Believe me, you cannot underestimate the power of a candle and a good book during no-power nights. The upside is I’ve caught up on my reading. The downside I’ll leave to your imagination.