“But Douglas is going to win back the love of his wife and the respect of Albie, their teenage son, by organising the holiday of a lifetime. He has booked the hotels, bought the train tickets, planned and printed the itinerary for a ‘grand tour’ of the great art galleries of Europe.
What could possibly go wrong?”
I laughed out loud, no, I guffawed out loud! I read the above quote on a paperback cover by David Nicholls entitled “Us” and literally harrumphed. And that’s what today’s post is all about. (I actually have been working several days on a different post and just this morning decided to go a different direction. I usually post on Sundays so now I’m going to be rushed.)
We quit our jobs, sold our house and possessions and are traveling the world. What could possibly go wrong?
Ok, for starters, my iPhone went for a swim with me. It’s ruined. You ask, How did it go swimming with you? Very well, I confess. I tucked it into my swimsuit top so it wouldn’t fall while I was napping in the swing, awoke hot, and went for a swim. Settling back down in the swing after the swim I felt a warmth on my chest, and suddenly remembered! Oh no! Now what?
I was confounded by what to do. I love technology, but I don’t understand it – and this scenario was overwhelming, all the worse because we are in Spain. Do I need a phone? Do I buy a new phone? How do I buy a used or reconditioned phone? Do I have to have an iPhone? How do I access my backup in the Cloud?
I wasn’t sure if I really needed a phone since our family all use Apple products. (We FaceTime and iMessage in place of calling and texting.) Could we get by using only my iPad with cellular and a local SIM card? It can do almost everything except make and receive phone calls and text message. (But, I’m sure there’s an app for that.) Steve is still carrying his old iPhone 3 but it utilizes a different size SIM card and T-Mobile wouldn’t turn it back on.
Wednesday we drove to Granada to look at options. We bought a 4 euro package of SIM card adapters, inserted my SIM card into the right size adapter, slipped it into the iPhone 3, and, voilá, it worked. But I wasn’t able to restore my backup and have lost all my Trail Wallet data, the app that tracks all our spending. (I suppose it’s still in the Cloud, but it doesn’t help me unless I buy a newer iPhone and restore it from the Cloud.)
Here are some photos from our self-guided walk (from Rick Steve’s guidebook) around beautiful historic Granada.
When we arrived back at the house we discovered the wifi and landline were out. Boy! we had gotten that old phone working just in time and were able to both call for service and let our family know why we were AWOL. Thus began a forced fast from the Internet.
What to do?
Might as well take a nap! Settling down for a siesta, my to-do list along with questions that need answering would wander through my mind, all requiring access to the World Wide Web. This ordeal has caused me to wonder if the web is a tool or am I a slave to it? Our lives have been so organized on our devices so that we are lost without them. Not only do we email, share photos, write this blog, and follow social media, but do the banking, watch news, go to church via webcast, plan travel and make reservations – all on our iPads. When it’s time for entertainment we turn to our iPads for NetFlix, Words with Friends and Scrabble and read ebooks on Kindle, Nook and library apps. Thankfully, I had enough books downloaded so we could both read, but I did start looking at some of the books around the house thinking it might be nice to read without an app! That’s how I found the book quoted at the start of this post and it grabbed my attention.
What else could go wrong?
1) We could break our french press. (And when I say “our” I mean our host family’s french press.) And have to learn where to buy a replacement.
2) We could have a swollen knee and be unable to walk more than a few steps.
3) We could argue and nitpick at each other because we are in some extremely challenging situations.
4) We could have our email hacked, our debit card gobbled up by an ATM machines, forget to pay a bill, run out of memory in the Cloud for our backups, and not remember our innumerable passwords.
All of these have happened, but they are trivial and minor inconveniences. It’s true that being abroad makes some things harder to manage, but things could always be worse! That’s why I started to think of all the things for which to be grateful.
What am I thankful for?
1) A wonderful therapeutic massage to relieve a stiff neck and back pain.
2) A house that has sofas, light fixtures and lamps, comfortable mattresses and pillows, wonderful showers and water pressure, clean water drinkable from the tap, a cook’s kitchen with salt, pepper, a multitude of spices, and olive oil, a swim pool with chaise lounges, and a swing perfect for napping. (We missed so much of those things in many of the places we have stayed the last 7 months.)
3) The car that came with the housesit so we can take the dogs to walk in different locations and for our use as well.
4) Being able to walk again, without pain or limp.
5) Delicious fragrant air perfumed by lavender and jasmine and wonderful pines. (A shift in the wind can deliver a disgustingly horrendous stink from a pig farm.) Springtime, when the almond and citrus bloom, must be a wonderfully fragrant and beautiful time to visit.
6) What I have picked and tasted while walking through the olive terraces: almonds, toasted in their shells by the hot dry sun; a ripe, juicy pomegranate; the sweetest, juiciest grapes (much better than those cultivated for shipping to market back home) and delicious black figs from our garden.
7) Technology: FaceTiming with my son in South Korea and daughter in Portland, photo sharing, Apps, online bill pay, ATM machines, renters depositing money into my bank account, a VPN (virtual private network), wireless keyboard, ebooks, and cell phones. I remember what it was like before these things.
8) The safe arrival of a package sent from the States to General Delivery which contained a new debit card and credit cards. Thanks Mom!
9) My family and a husband who, for better or for worse, is traveling with me and makes the coffee every morning.
10) A savings account.