28 October 2016

The Mostly Joys and Partial Frustrations of Life on the Road


It’s the best feeling in the world to be warm 24 hours a day. The humidity means beautiful skin and curls in my hair. And the joints just don’t hurt in this climate. The Dominican Republic is everything I had dreamed of. And mostly it has been wonderful.
Before I left California, I dug out my old flip-phone, (still my favorite device), and sat down at the computer to try and figure out a way to unlock it so that I could use it in the DR. It took a while, but all the information is available online. Just to test that I really had unblocked it, I slipped in a SIM card from my Vietnam phone. I’d done it!
Jardin Botanico
Once here, it would be a simple matter of purchasing a SIM card and I’d be set. The ladies at the hotel directed me to the mobile provider Orange, whose store is just around the corner. Once my details were noted and paper signed, the very pleasant service rep inserted the SIM and turned on the phone, where it said the card was invalid. So much for my hacking abilities. No problem, he told me, just go down the block where there is a tiny shop that can fix it. So phone in hand, I walked over.
In less you have been overseas, it’s hard to explain all the tiny businesses that are set up in tiny alcoves at the front of houses. Maybe the area was once part of a garage. Or a broom closet, because that’s about the size of some of them. This particular shop had one guy sitting behind a small counter, with a few items hanging from nails on the wall. Before leaving Orange, I had the sales rep write out exactly what needed to be done. This was no time to test the Spanish skills. The fix-it guy read the message, looked at my phone, and said he couldn’t unblock it, but the guy down the street could.
The Spaniards used a whole lot of coral in construction
The next shop was larger, (although still an alcove), that extended back into the building. The owner had properly printed signs regarding warranties, services, etc. Judging from those waiting to get phones fixed, it looked like this would defiantly be the man to unblock my phone. He took my phone, read the note of what was needed, told me it would take a few minutes and cost about $7. And he did just that. I asked if he had used a code like I had found on the internet, but apparently that really won’t do it on American locked phones. He had to plug something in and do something else. And when the phone reverted to blocked status the next day, I simply went back and it is now fixed for good. I couldn’t quite understand what had happened, but it will stay unlocked now.
I do love the entrepreneurial spirit one finds in countries like the Dominican Republic. Have a skill, set up a small shop, and build your business.
Regrettably, there are always the pitfalls of travel. Usually they are only minor annoyances and I generally roll with them. But finding that my travel blog of 11 years has suddenly been deleted is not one of them.
I have gone from a complete feeling of devastation, to frustration, to anger, to just dealing with it in any way I can.
My travel stories are what I do every day. Since starting Kate McVaugh’s Rambles when I arrived in Vietnam in 2005, I cannot imagine being abroad and not writing. It makes me happy to write. Maybe it makes other people happy to read. Told that my blog no longer exists was almost the end of the world.
Zona Colonial
I have no idea why it happened, as I was able to post one article on 24 Oct. 24 hours later, the blog was gone. I have tried all the recovery options from Google, and all I get is a “We can’t verify you are you, so fill out the following form.” Alluded to form, that they keep sending me to, is not available.  
Honestly, Kate McVaugh’s two blogs are linked, my photo is the same on both, they are both linked to my Amazon Books page and Goodreads. They have the same recovery email. They have the same cell phone recovery contact, but my US phone is inoperative here. What more proof do they want? Actually, I think all their responses are automated as I have listed all the above in 5 different recovery attempts and get the same, generated reply.
The only thing to do is post these on my author’s blog. Then, when I get back to the San Francisco area, I’m jumping in the car, driving an hour and a half straight down to Mountain View, and banging on Google’s front door.
As upset as I have been, I do realize that Kate McVaugh’s Rambles are not lost. Nothing’s lost forever out there in cyber-land. But I hate that there are lots of people who will be typing in Kate's Rambles and coming up with “there is no such blog”.
Japanese Garden at the Botanical Gardens
But onwards and upwards to the next bit of frustration I will have to endure to post this on my author’s site; difficult internet connection. Both in the hotel I was in the first two days, and the one I am in now, it is hard to get connected and then stay connected. It seems that if I am not sitting within 1 or 2 feet of the modem, I can’t connect. Again, I don’t get it. Everyone’s smart phones work within a huge area. And someone else was on his laptop with no problem. I really do think it’s because that my laptop is still trying to learn Spanish – I can’t come up with another reason.

So today I am staying in and trying to sort out blog writing and internet connecting. I’ll explore somewhere else new tomorrow.