December 9, 2005

Internet: It’s everywhere you might ever want to be

A few months ago I wrote about my “plans” to live on the beach in Mexico. Well, I’m still living in Colorado, and considering recent meteorological events in the Yucatan Peninsula, that may be just as well.

But I did visit Mexico for 10 days this summer, sans laptop. I did, however, want to keep connected to some degree; had to check my e-mail, of course. (As a wise man once said, “They told us technology will allow us to work anywhere, anytime, but actually it just forces us to work everywhere, all of the time.”)

I used to live in Mexico. About a quarter of a century ago I was in the oil business, had an apartment in Mexico City and worked in the Gulf, so I traveled throughout Mexico. Things have changed. The Yucatan Peninsula is almost unrecognizable from what it was back then. The road south from Cancun was a narrow jungle road. Now it’s a four-lane highway, built up almost continuously from Cancun down to Tulum, about 70 miles south. And whereas back then the ruins at Coba were almost abandoned, now you have to dodge Texas college kids on bicycles.

More to the point of this article, though, is telecommunications. Back then, of course, there was no Internet (at least, not in common use). And phone calls were horrendously expensive; to call out of Mexico cost an arm and a leg, more or less, per minute. In fact, back in the early ’80s, people used to actually write letters to each other, because electronic communication simply wasn’t affordable!

That was the day of the Telex machine. Remember those? You’d type short messages that would be transmitted to a Telex machine in another office (many companies with branches overseas owned them). We would write messages very carefully, truncating words, abbreviating everything, because it was so expensive.

And today? There are Internet booths all over the Yucatan, and they’re very affordable – generally around $2 to $3 an hour. They have reasonably quick connections, often via satellite. Some are professional little office-type setups, while others are, well, more informal. (My favorite store sign? “Lavanderia y Internet” – Laundry and Internet).

I used one Internet kiosk in Mahahual, a beautiful, quiet fishing village way in the south of the Yucatan, too far for the college kids to reach. Later, when we visited Chetumal, I checked my e-mail from a small place just opposite the main market, while my son got online and instant-messaged some friends – and began communicating with a beautiful girl he’d met in the market earlier in the day. (Not quite sure of the point, seeing as we were leaving in the morning, but, you know, teenage hormones and all that.)

Well, next I’m off to Belize. My girlfriend had been trying to get me to commit to traveling there, and I kept vacillating, mainly because of work commitments. So one day she bought some tickets and gave them to me, a sort of fait accompli that’s hard to be upset about. “All right,” I said, “but I’ll have to work while I’m there some of the time.” I’d rather not work on vacation, but I won’t be working all the time, and I’ve come to look at it another way. It’s not that I’ll be working on my vacation, rather, during some of my work time, I’m going to be in Belize. After all, if I have to work, I can do so in my office in Denver … or on a beach in Belize.

But can I work on a beach in Belize? Considering I need to be in touch with people in Denver (and various other U.S. cities), and need to be online (I’m in the Internet business, after all), will this work?

So, let’s see. I’ll be spending a few days at a small resort called Pleasure Cove Lodge, near Hopkins Village, about 60 miles south of Belize City. This is a small resort, in a small fishing village, and yes, they have Internet access via satellite.

We’re going to be traveling around a little, too. We may be staying in Caye Caulker, a little island about 20 miles from Belize City, just half a mile wide and five miles long. There’s not a lot there, but there is a cybercafe. Then, off to San Ignacio, a town of 20,000 people in the jungle. Yep, they’ve got an Internet cafe.

It seems that Internet access is scattered all over Belize. Hey, I can see myself now, hard at work on my laptop … sitting by the beach, sipping those piña coladas.

Peter Kent is an Internet marketing consultant in Denver. His most recent book is “Search Engine Optimization for Dummies.” He can be reached at pkent@ichannelservices.com.

A few months ago I wrote about my “plans” to live on the beach in Mexico. Well, I’m still living in Colorado, and considering recent meteorological events in the Yucatan Peninsula, that may be just as well.

But I did visit Mexico for 10 days this summer, sans laptop. I did, however, want to keep connected to some degree; had to check my e-mail, of course. (As a wise man once said, “They told us technology will allow us to work anywhere, anytime, but actually it just forces us to work everywhere, all of the time.”)

I used to live in…

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