Sunday, May 31, 2009

Every day a new lesson (or two)

Ai! What a day. Today was my first day in the field and I didn't bring
spare batteries. First lesson. I even knew this already and stupidly
hoped the batteries would last. Hope is as effective in the field as
it is a method of birth control.

This afternoon I spent quite a while trying to figure out how to get
online. I can't wait until there's free wireless internet over the
whole world. It's going to be great. In the meantime, I learned that I
chose incorrectly when I selected my GPRS internet provider- the one I
chose does NOT work at Nyota because they don't have coverage here
(they might next month if they finish building the cell tower they
started). They told me it would, but I even knew that the other
provider has better coverage here. I 'saved' about $15 by going with
the unproven provider. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! This left me with two
frustrating options.

1. Try to get online at field station office. This is a bad option
because I can't connect my own computer. They successfully prevented
me from being able to connect even after doing a bit of sleuthing
around their PC to find the settings I need. So, that sucks because I
write emails on my computer while I'm offline and then wait to send
them until I get online. it makes everything much more difficult if I
have to use a different computer.

2. Try to get online with the GPRS provider that DOES have coverage
here. I use that provider for my mobile, but my sim didn't work in
the modem. I think it's too old and not GSM/GPRS enabled. I did a bit
of reading about it online (when I paid to use the field station
computer). So, I went to look for a shop selling a new sim in hopes
that it would work. I bought a sim, bought credit for it, put it in my
phone to add the credit, put the sim in my modem, then tried
repeatedly to connect with my fingers crossed. After several tries it
worked! I am so happy. However, I'm now really paying by the MB (about
35 cents per MB) because I don't know how to subscribe to a plan with
a better deal. I think it would require that I buy credit in an
obscenely large amount that will be impossible to find out here in the

Now I have purchased 5 different sim cards from all but one of the
major mobile providers in Ukenzagapia. One I didn't need and resold to
the anthropologist. One is in Big City with Jon (great idea, Karina).
Three are with me now.

Actually, today's theme might be "lessons re-learned." I was also
getting seriously down on myself while we were in the field today. I
was thoroughly worried about everything- my field assistant's pay
rate, my hypothesis, my decision to do research in Ukenzagapia at all,
my budget, my ability to get anything useful done this summer...
everything. I was hungry. Things haven't been so bad since lunch,
though I do have a lot to think about. Life is always better when I'm
not hungry.

1 comment:

EcoGeoFemme said...

Once you get it all sorted out and make the first decisions it will go better. Your research will be great! And you'll learn so much!

Good luck with it all.