That right after I wrote that post about how the telecenter Gesac at the Baniwa Coripaco School Pamaali (does not) works, the connection decides to drop for good. My boyfriend says he interpreted that text as some sort of warning that I wouldn’t be much online from that day on. The truth is that it was some kind of prophecy that even I wasn’t aware I was foreseeing. I wrote that post and went silent until today because it is a sort of odyssey to be able to use some proper internet connection in the Dog’s Head.
Since May 16th the internet in Pamaali simply won’t work, not even in the precarious conditions I described on the last post. The best thing about it is that nobody knows why, so no one has a clue about what could be done to make it work. Our last hope at school was the arrival of Raimundo, who went downstream (on the same boat that brought me) at the beginning of May and stayed in São Gabriel until the last week of the month.
Ray has the access codes to the receiver but he tried them and they just wouldn’t work. According to him, the problem is that the receiver should be on all the time so it would automatically receive its updates, but due to the energy situation at the school it stays off most of the time, excluding when someone wants to try and go online. To get an Embratel (the company that provides the satellite signal and the antennas to Gesac telecenters) technician to go up there to Pamaali is almost impossible. Last time one went there, the school had to pay for half of the cost of his trip. In theory, Embratel (representing the government) is responsible for the maintenance; the institution where the telecenter is installed shouldn’t be paying for it.
After two weeks offline I was sort of happy to come back to São Gabriel da Cachoeira on Saturday May 28th so I could go online in the Inn I was staying at. Turns out the owner decided that the Inn would no longer be an Inn and canceled the internet connection. At least I got to stay there for that week. And no, 3G does not work in São Gabriel. So no playing on the Blackberry for me.
I wasn’t able to check on the internet until Wednesday June 1st on ISA (Instituto SocioAmbiental) telecenter. There was just enough time to take a quick look at my e-mail, on the blog’s comments (without answering any of them) and on the cost and availability of all the flights to Manaus. There is no direct flight from São Gabriel da Cachoeira to any other city but the capital of the state of Amazonas.
Later that day, I went to Trip (the only company that flies to and from São Gabriel) office to buy the ticket I have looked at online. I rather not risk buying anything on any shitty connection on any telecenter or even LanHouses there. “Sorry, the internet connection is down, please come back tomorrow”. First interesting thing: the guy is not even a bit worried about saying something fancy like “the system is down”, he says right away that the INTERNET is not working. Second interesting thing: it is Wednesday and I want to buy a ticket for Friday, I sort of can’t come back tomorrow because there will not be any more seats left!
So I left Trip’s Office and headed to a LanHouse since I realized that the guy in the office would do exactly the same thing as me: go online and get the ticket. First try: lots of computers available, but the attendant says there are no computers vacant. Yes, the free computers are broken and no, they don’t have wifi. Second try: sorry the internet is down. Third try: finally a LanHouse with unoccupied computers, wifi and in which the connection is not down! But by then the Friday flight is sold out! And the next flight is only on Tuesday!
So me and the cutest boyfriend ever (he took a plane to meet me in São Gabriel and take me home!) decided to take the boat to Manaus. It leaves on Friday and arrives on Sunday. Better than only being able to leave São Gabriel on Tuesday. And quite a story to tell (in a future post). On Thursday we got to Tanaka Navigations Office first thing in the morning to see if there were still places available. And guess what? “The internet connection is very slow today, but you can buy the tickets anyway, we’ll do it on paper and I’ll put it on the system afterwards”. Thank you!
So here we are, me and my boyfriend, in Manaus, at my dear friends Karla, Bruna and Marcia’s place since Sunday. I had my first shower with a real shower in a month and a half! But the internet… Well, the internet works, but there is no wifi. My boyfriend had brought a router that he intended to use at the Inn, because the owner didn’t care to tell him he was about to cut it off (the internet was the reason why I chose that Inn in first place). We could use the router here, right? Wrong. What they use to connect themselves here is a 3G modem, not compatible with the router. We can connect the modem on our computers, but I rather not do it often because they pay by the minute of connection.
Oh! How I miss my internet connection at home! Just for information’s sake, the entire internet backbone of the city of Manaus is only 10 Megabits. You can imagine the connection’s speed here…