Monday, September 28, 2015

My Internet Eclipse

After living with my wonderful host family during the entire month of August, I moved into my own little cottage up the hill on September 1. It is a very nice, with two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, and a main room (I'll do a story about it someday).

However, it doesn't have Internet or TV. I think I can live without TV. In fact, I'm looking forward to missing all the distorted political ads that cater to our lowest intellectual levels, as well as all the "talking heads" offering their oft-biased "two cents" on the 2016 elections.

Not having my own Internet connection is a bit harder, though. Some folks have suggested in my previous life that I spent too much time on the Internet. To me, this criticism was unfounded, since I don't watch typically movies or other videos. I just like to surf from one topic to another, from one source to another, and learn by reading webpages. The Internet is the great repository of human knowledge--it is the present day form of the great Alexandria library.

When I moved in at the start of September, I told myself I would try going without an Internet connection at my home for a month, and then decide whether to pay to get a cable connection. After all, my host family said I could still use their wifi password (and it is great reason to stop and visit with them), and my landlord shared their wifi password (but it isn't turned on all the time). Plus, the school was supposed to have Internet.

The school's Internet during the first 10 days has been spotty and intermittent (but supposedly it is going to get fixed). However, it did prove handy during a recent 3rd grade science lesson about vertebrates and invertebrates. After guessing correctly that a worm was an invertebrate, the students fell "into a trap" and assumed that since it moves in a similar fashion, a snake would also be an invertebrate. I was able to quickly pull up pictures of snake skeletons on my wifi-connected smart phone to let them see that snakes are indeed different, and that they have backbones. This is one of the great things about the Internet.

With no TV or Internet at my house (and because of the high mountains behind my village, the only radio station I can receive is a French speaking station from the nearby island of Guadeloupe), watching the night sky has become an important form of entertainment (along with my iTunes and podcasts I download). Last night was a great example. Just like many of my fellow villagers, I enjoyed watching the lunar eclipse.

Initially I spent a couple of hours on my host family's wide front porch, talking and watching the progression of the shadow across the moon's face until it reached its peak, when I decided to head up the hill for my home. As I walked home up the main street, many residents were outside socializing while frequently gazing upward. It was great to see so many people enjoying this astronomy show.

I just wish my cell phone camera could take clearer pictures of the moon because this example below doesn't begin to convey the beauty I saw in this natural phenomenon. But I also saw a different form of natural beauty in the way this phenomenon was shared by the residents of my village.

There is something to be said for living a simpler life, and not being cloistered inside your house with electronic entertainment. I think I will try to go another month before I decide whether to pay for an Internet connection.

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