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Internet and Electricity

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In some parts of the world these things are just like a basic human right. In others it is more of a luxury. Here where I am now in rural South Africa it is definitely more of a luxury most days. Regular Internet that you get through lines are generally okay. Regular cellular phone reception is good. But you try and use one of those USB type data connections through cellphone signals and you are royally stuck. 

Email? Forget it. 

Google? Nope 

What’s App? Only if you’re really lucky and then you can only send text no pics. 

Skype? YES! 

I’m not sure how or why but Skype is the only thing I can connect too most days. 

This lack in connection has made me real crafty at sniffing out Internet. Coffee shops that provide Internet for free for thirty minutes a day are my top destinations, but when I travel through dusty hamlets these are not an option. 

One town though i got lucky. I discovered an open connection! So every afternoon I’d loiter outside this shop on the main street with my iPhone, downloading emails and what’s app’ing my family to say that I’m still breathing. Most times though I just disappear quietly into the great unknown of this vast country called South Africa and surface again a couple of days later. 

That brings me to the other basic human right: Electricity. Over here the company that basically owns the electricity belongs to the government and the government has many more other things to focus on than making sure it increases it’s capacity for electric supplies. So they’ve introduced this thing called ‘load shedding’. *nods* yes you read that right. What a phrase. 

Anyway, load shedding works as follows, at certain times of the day, or night, certain parts of a city or town (sometimes the whole town depending on its size) will have a type of controlled power cut. This usually lasts a couple hours. People here have become very good at dealing with these power cuts. Small generators have seen a huge increase in sales. Gas stoves are and those oil burring fridges are all starting to sell. 

In each place I have stayed so far i’ve been supplied with candles and matches and torches. There is just something about having your dinner by candle light that makes even the dullest meal taste special, even dinner for one by candle light. 

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My journey begins

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There comes a time I guess in every person’s life where they look at themselves in the mirror one morning and say: who are you? Mine finally arrived one rainy morning at the end of winter in London. It came a little late in life but I figure it’s not a problem. At least I woke up. I’m making my start on the cliched journey of finding myself.

Being the extremist that I am, I quit everything. Yes really everything.

I quit my job at one of the world’s biggest technology companies. Public relations manager for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia looking after some or other techie things. A big title and a really nice pay check too.

I quit my flat in the heart of Wimbledon. Two minutes walk to the station, gym across the street, mall next door. For a while I had a tattoo parlour for a neighbour, which made me feel real cool, but they moved out one night.

I quit my stuff. I rented a 10 square feet box at the Shurguard down the road. What doesn’t fit in there I said to myself, has to go: to charity to friends to the recycle bin.

By next week this time my flat will be empty. I’ll be left with a medium sized suitcase, a plane ticket to Europe and Africa and insurance for six months.

There is no one word strong enough for what I feel at this moment. The closest one would be that I feel alive. I feel terror, freedom, elation, terror, anticipation, excitement, did I mention terror? But inside of me I know I am doing the right thing. For me. I’m doing the right thing.

This blog will be the place where I record my journey. I think sometimes there will be a lot of writing and then there may be times of utter silence.

This is my first post.