You may have noticed that I have been absent a while — there are two reasons for this. The first was losing my internet lifeline — the first storm of the season rendered our already stressed internet connection null and void. 13 kilometers of line had to be replaced along with some of the electricity lines.

There is no rush here in Portugal to undertake such work — SAPO who own all the lines and infrastructure are next on the privatization list and do not want to invest in capital at present — the internet providers who have to use the infrastructure, and pay to do so, quite understandably have no desire to fix a problem that is not theirs.

So what do you do when your life is so tied up in technology and it vanishes for an extended period of time?

We can all cope with an hour or two without being continuously connected, possibly even a couple of days without getting really cranky — but when it comes to a week or longer, you have to put coping strategies into place.

We were at a double disadvantage, leading into the second reason we were so totally offline. I foolishly did not renew my contract with the company that provided my alternative access via USB dongle. Now corrected. As well, our mobile phone does not have internet capabilities. It is a dumb brick — a brick, though, that works to give you calls and texts but nothing more.

We live in a rural area.  We are one of a few houses that have an internet connection.  The neighbors do not have computers, and even if they did, they would have suffered the same problem as we did.

There are no internet cafes or wi-fi hotspots within 30 miles — or not that we found — those that might have been available in local holiday parks had already shut for the winter.

Next, we made a Wishlist of what we needed to avoid this situation again.  Renew the dongle contract.  Done.  Get ourselves a phone that has internet capability — currently being saved up for and researched.  These are all premium items in Portugal, and the mobile companies really sting you on tariffs.

Now I’m moving all online information and contacts to an offline file AND onto paper .

While offline, we spent a lot of time getting the house in order as much as we could — my laundry was all done, the house was cleaned, the garden tidied, books were read and TV and videos were watched.

We have a horrendous mobile phone bill as all our calls had to be made that way — including overseas to the UK and France.

I cooked a lot — disposed of apples, tomatoes, potatoes, lemons and oranges — I passed on the peppers.

We went out a lot — I photographed, I wrote, and we planned and made lists.

We also played games offline and did jigsaws, and we resolved never to get caught in that trap again — but just in case — I welcome your ideas about what to do when you lose your internet lifeline for an extended period?

13 Comments

  1. It was alarming to have you missing for so long — but I know you live in a rural area — and we’d previously agreed when/if you disappear that you would find a way to let me know if you were missing because of a critical injury or if you were in the hospital or something else life-threatening was at hand.

    So, I knew you had to be generally okay, just preoccupied, and I’m thrilled you made out of the dark hole of being disconnected!

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  2. I still find it hard to believe it was 80 days – I could have gone round the world in that time !

    It was a lesson learned the hard way – it was also a bit of a shock to find out just how much of my daily life and routines are invested in the on-line world. Going cold turkey like that was a most unpleasant experience !

    Delighted to be back and thank you for your patience and understanding .

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    1. Ha! “Around the World with Nicola in 80 Days: Without Wifi or Wires!”

      When we were out for three days because of hurricane Sandy, I thought the world was over, but I did enjoy the quiet. The house is a tomb with all the whizzy dingling ringing things are silenced — but also really dark and cold. SMILE!

      I’m glad it all worked out and you are back in the flow! We all truly missed you!

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      1. That would be by scanned hand written posts sent by pigeon ?????

        The quiet is uncanny – especially at night – in the day we still had cowbells and cats to keep us on our toes and thankfully the cold did not appear until very recently and we have our log fire working a treat – but there is a post to come about that .

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        1. I remember the first time you disappeared a bit back after moving. You were out for a week. Your water was turned off and the livestock were being evaluated for tuberculosis or something. It was then I realized you are in a very remote area and that there will be times where you’re just gone without warning. I’ve learned not to be worried, though I think 90 days is my limit. SMILE!

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          1. I have back up connection now – and yes will look at the dreaded phones as well – or the connect anywhere kindles. I am going to UK – for Christmas (yes I should have a connection) so the kindle that connects anywhere might be an interesting option.

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  3. I cannot even begin to imagine this! Being offline I do not do – not anywhere in the world if I can help it. As you know we travel with plenty of IT kit for fear of ever being offline. I take two Ipads, a kindle, a MacBook air and a mobile with hotspot, Leila takes an Ipad, a MacBook Air and a mobile with hotspot, plus we take extra battery packs and multiple layers of chargers. Offline what is that….scary scary. Have you looked at all inclusive mobile 3G contracts. That is what I have with unlimited landline calls, unlimited mobile calls, unlimited texts and unlimited internet…..then I just throw out a wifi hotspot from my Iphone, connect the Ipad and away I go. Robert your mothers brother!

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    1. Ah do you have the connect everywhere kindle ? Someone mentioned that might be an option for me.

      You sound as though you are as well equipped as our mutual friend Mr B – who always despairs of my inability to keep pace with technology !

      We are looking at any and all mobile contracts at the moment – they are however a premium item in Portugal and may have to wait a while.

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  4. Nicola —

    I would think you would not want a Kindle as a backup. Get a proper smartphone first and then an iPad with both WiFi and cellular and you’ll be set for anything — especially if your cellular provider lets you use the “Hotspot” feature for your iOS devices. The kindle is best for reading books, not really communicating via text or email. I think a Kindle would frustrate you more than solve your emergency problem.

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    1. OK Mr P can get the smart phone – I will get the iPad and donate my old one to my daughter who wants one for her and Billy 🙂

      Thanks for the heads up about the kindle – SMILE

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      1. Yes, that’s smart! You might even like the tiny Retina display iPad. I’m tempted by the small size and easy portability.

        The hotspot is the key for both iPhone and iPad — because that mades them just like your USB dongle — your cellular provider decides if they want to support that feature or not. You can use any computer with Bluetooth or Wifi and connect to the internet through your iPad and iPhone. A true lifesaver.

        And, if you want to spread around the risk, make sure the iPad and iPhone are on separate cellular providers. That way, if one service goes down, the other may still be alive. That’s harder to do now in the USA because Verizon and AT&T have such great bundle deals with pooling minutes and broadband between devices that it becomes prohibitive to “split the carrier” baby.

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  5. Comparing all the tariffs is going to give me a headache – I just know it …….. but it does make sense to split them up and cover our options the best we can. availability of the service is also another thing we have to consider , although I believe the mobile/cellular services are ahead of the fixed lines in both speed and bandwidth.

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