St. Helena

“The internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom” Jon Stewart.

28th June 2017

I can remember a time before the internet but I am probably part of the youngest generation that can. I remember the sound of dial up when I was about ten or eleven and knowing that when you called a friend’s house and the line was engaged, it was because they were online.

The leap in technology in less than twenty years from that, to the present day where everyone has the world wide web at their fingertips, with them 24/7 is remarkable and the mind boggles at what progress has been made in technology in this tiny percentage of man’s time on earth.

Now, I’m living in a place where the demand for this technology is very much here, but the island is generations apart in terms of internet availability, price and speed. The availability that, many parts of the world, come to accept as standard. That’s before we even we get onto internet on board the RMS. Just don’t bother.

On St Helena, I have the most expensive residential WIFI package which comes to about £160 a month + tax. I only get 21Gb of data for that and it is nowhere near the speed I was used to. In comparison, my UK WIFI bill was a 10th of that and I could use it freely to my heart’s content! Streaming? No problem. Downloads? Go ahead.

The saving grace is that is that there is unlimited WIFI between midnight and 6am. Not much use if you are a normal person and sleep. It is also painfully slow after midnight when people stay up late to use it.

I, on the other hand, being slightly mad, often (towards the end of the month when the allowance is low) sleep 8pm-3am to make the most of the 3-6am time when most of the island is sensibly asleep. Bonkers. But things we will do to use Instagram.

Do not go over your allowance. It will cost you dearly. Me and my boyfriend, who requires to be online for work, managed to rack up a bill the same cost as a cheap second-hand car last month. It is frankly pretty absurd.

Some people probably would take the time away from the internet as a way to further  remove themselves from the world many thousands of miles away. But as I don’t have a TV or want one to vegetate in front of, I rely on it to keep me entertained and connected.

There is also only one provider to choose from. You like it or lump it. There is talk of connecting the island to a fibre optic cable but it will probably take years before a date is even set for it. It’s a shame, because it costs the island in terms of lost opportunities in business and education.

Despite all my moaning (I’ll be happier when my allowance renews on the 1st July) it is delightfully refreshing to see people not buried in their phones when their out. Mobiles have only been introduced in the last two years. People talk to each other when forced to and there are no problems with excess use of phones at the dinner table. Things are changing here, but at a completely different speed to the rest of the world.


 

I went on two fantastic hikes in recent weeks. I ventured off to the base of Lot on Bank Holiday Monday. I’m not quite sure what the holiday was for as it’s not one we have in the UK but I wasn’t going to argue. Lot consists of quite a remarkable humongous rock that lies in the Sandy Bay region of the island. It’s been there since the island was first formed from the earth itself and it does look magnificent, especially as you draw closer.

There are ropes to help you climb up and down and it is peaceful to sit at the base of Lot. Some people do climb up it but being on my own I didn’t think it would be entirely sensible to do something that might cause me to get stuck up there.

The other walk to Gill Point was also a Post-box Walk but an unofficial one as it has been taken out of the guidebook. The path was needed during the construction of the airport but as it is now finished, the path is open once more for hikers in search of a secluded spot to gaze out to sea. This walk was led by the Conservation Society. The waves that crashed up on the shore were a brilliant turquoise blue and the hike up the path was a fantastic slog to the top.

My calves were feeling a bit tight for my first yoga class since Jo, our teacher returned. I really missed a good stretch and looking forward to sticking my bum/arms/legs in the air every Tuesday afternoon at the Mule Yard as we watch the sun set over the waves.

 

 

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