25 September, 2013

Paradise in a Mud Pit

So, the weather has improved enough that we've been able to use our pool for two days running, and I have high hopes for today as well.

The down side is that the road in front of Casa Winjama and adjacent to here has about eight inches of mud and a good three inches of water on top of that. In addition, the forty to sixty loads of rock that Transport put in has gotten rid of the really deep holes, it's just left an amazingly bumpy and uncomfortable ride. What fun.

And this from the files of Odysseus or someone like him.

And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses.
How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing.
Sparkling waves are calling you to touch her white laced lips.
-- Cream, Tales of Brave Ulysses, Live Cream, Vol. 2

 I got this message Tuesday from Kyler, Gerhard's wife:
We need your help... Sunday, Gerard was sailing near Orchid Bay when a bad storm hit. He capsized and lost his Hobie to huge waves. He spent fifteen hours in the sea . Monday, he and some guys searched for the boat to no avail.
 Later on Tuesday,  Gerhard reported the errant boat had been found in Sarteneja.

Now, I don't know about you, but fifteen hours bobbing around in the briney, is no slouch activity for anyone, much less someone of slightly advancing years. There was no mention of any hypothermia, injuries, or how Gerhard managed to extricate himself from his predicament.

Gerhard, you've simply got to stop listening to those sirens when you're out on the bounding main.

Rodney and MiFi

This was a comment from Mr. Pancho (Rodney) about MiFi. Don't know MiFi from WiFi or HiFi? Don't worry, all will be made clear.

"Dave, It dawned on me that you snuck in that you switched from satellite to MiFi. Could you elaborate on that? Amy and I will both have internet jobs if we move to Belize (doing medical coding work) and will need a reliable internet source. I doubt there will be any wires ran up Consejo road for a wired connection. - Rodney"

In the heady days of HiFi - I can remember getting an FM adapter for the AM radio in my 1965 Valiant convertible. This super gizmo allowed me to receive what was then just coming in - FM radio - not even stereo, just plain old mono - the way God intended it - at least in my car.

I could listen to all the non-top 40, album-oriented rock by some really free-wheeling DJs. It was known as 'underground' or 'Free-form' FM, and eventually became known as 'progressive rock' along with the commercials which, at the time were almost unheard of and nothing was played that remotely showed up on top-40 stations or Dick Clark's American Bandstand out of Philadelphia, PA. Anyone remember listening to 'Mother' on some station in San Francisco, say around 1968? Some wonderful sets came over the air

So, enough of Hi-Fi. Just a flash on WiFi. If you've ever gotten on-line in Starbucks or some other joint or even wirelessly at home - That's WiFi. It needs a wireless router, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da. You know all about that.

So, along comes MiFi. It's probably been out for a while, I just discovered it a few months ago, when some friends here said they had dumped their cable internet provider, or whatever and gone down to the local Smart Phone Center (here in Belize anyway) and gotten a tiny little MiFi box.

MiFi, at least with Smart (Digicell will soon be offering their version of MiFi, according to a text Dianna got from Digicell), is sold by data in Gigabytes, as opposed to time.increments. Smart's prices are $30-1 GB, $50-2 GB, $70-5 GB, on up to $150-25GB packages. You can purchase either prepaid or postpaid.

We signed up for a 10 GB package. It looks like we're using roughly 3 GB per day (Thanks to David for being so alert to catch this goof - d) Would you believe three days and 1 GB? Me too. So, that should just about equal a month of internet service for us, although I can see us moving up to a 15 GB package just to give us that little bit more.

Right now, we're paying $90 BZD for the 10 GB package. That's less than half what Hughesnet cost us per month. Startup is much less and easier as well. Hughenet cost about $2000 US for the dish, modem, and installation. MiFi cost about $100 BZD. You carry it home in your pocket and then turn it on. What could be simpler?

So far, I've found it visibly faster than Hughesnet satellite, plus there's no Fair Access Policy (FAP) to worry about. That was what finally decided us on switching to MiFi.

MiFi also seems to be almost completely impervious to hiccups due to weather. We've had virtually no service interruptions since signing up (just about a month now).

With the MiFi, you can have up to five devices hooked up simultaneously. The downside is the thing only has a 30-foot range. There is some equipment you can buy that will 1) remove the five device limitation, and 2) significantly extend the range of the thing.

The other downside is that I can't use my Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive. At least, if that's not the case, I haven't found out how to do it yet. I have hopes however.

The Road
We just completed our third day without significant rain. Wow! For the past few days, our road has been really bumpy, I mean really bumpy. It's also had about eight inches of mud and water still on top, though having the deep holes filled was a definite benefit. Just today, we had the grader come back through and smooth out the road. It looks like there'll be a good chance of having walkies in the morning. First time in weeks if it happens. Keep your fingers crossed.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear your road is on the mend. At last. BTW you may want to reconsider your MiFi use. 3 GB a day and you'd be done in a week. Perhaps 300K a day? David

Dave Rider said...

Good morning David,

You're right. How about the other way around... Something like three days for a Gig, or 300K a day as you say. Oops. I'll correct the text for those folks who don't read the comments.

Thanks for being alert so early in the day.


Wilma said...

Hope you and the doggies finally can get your walkies tomorrow!

Wish we could use MiFi down here! Sounds like a very good deal for you. We went with ViaSat from Computer Ranch in Spanish Lookout. It is even more expensive than Hughesnet, but is much more robust. We have had only a handful of 15 minute interruptions in service, usually in the middle of thunderstorms. Our Smart signal, even with a booster, let us limp by using phone dongles for the months prior to ViaSat installation; the slow speed was painful. With our remote location, we don't have landlines for phone signal. We feel that ViaSat is worth the expense since it is our primary means of contact with the outside world. So far, we are very happy with ViaSat.

Now - hope your weather is good enough for you to go outside and play!


Dave Rider said...

Hi Wilma,

As a matter of fact, we had walkies this morning, for the first time in more than a month. It felt so good to get out and going. Plus we had tacos from our fav roadside stand for breakfast. Ummmm, good!

We haven't got landline comms either. We do have cable for TV run down the road, just not hooked up.

It's good to hear from you. Thanks for the comment.


Mr. Pancho said...

Thanks so much for putting this blog entry into park, puttin her in reverse and answering my question about Mifi!
I wasn't around (with listening ears anyway) to enjoy the mono FM music (born in 67). But, I do distintly remember the enjoyableness of recording Foghat onto an 8 track, do I get points and credit?
The Mifi sounds like an all around good deal for you and I assume it works well because you get good cellphone strength there at casa Winjama? Now for the big question (dunn-dunn-dunnnnn) Can Mifi handle a large data load like skype or watching videos on youtube?
I ran across a really good article a few days back about how Belize is way behind the internet curve (ranking almost last in the Carribean, just above Haiti). The good news is the article was about a year old and the Belizian government responded favoribly to investing into Belizian internet infrastructure. I guess there is this 'hub' thing that analizes where on the WWW you are going, if it's local (most searches are) then it reduces the ping time it takes for the request to meet the actual server where the info is. Currently the 'hub' for Belize is in Miami and New York...If they install one of these hub gizmos in Belize City, it will speed the internet experience up for all, weeding out the requests that reside on servers in Belize from those outside Belize.
Sorry for the long response, I'm jazzed that we got an honorable mention in blog posting 899!
Howdy to you and the Mrs.