I flew to San Fran this week, and back, hardly missing any time on wifi while in the air. I should be grateful for that.
Meanwhile, in Havana, people struggle to get online for a few minutes, but when they do… they are transformed. When I compare the two expectations, our and theirs, I recall a great bit from Louis CK about the hardships we “think” we endure, like flying through the air 500 miles and hour, in a chair, surfing the web and doing work. “New York to SanFran used to take people 30 years, and half the people would die with an arrow in their neck”. Now, if we don’t board priority, we don’t get our luggage in the overhead bins *sigh*.
Meanwhile, in Cuba, people take nothing for granted.
This is an ETESCA wifi card. It is sold in increments of 2 hours and 5 hours, although they run out of the 2 hours all the time. The Cuban Government has proudly announced they will have everyone online by 2020, but take a look at how that happens. In order to get a card, at La Rampa where there is wifi or in the adjoining parks, you wait for about an hour to get into the ETESCA store. Yes, an hour, in the sweltering heat. Then, once in the store, you fill out a bunch of identity forms, and get the right to buy *a card*, maybe a few. There were only 5 hour cards left at the time, and I saw half the people walk away, as they did not have 5CUC’s to spend, as it represents *25% of the monthly salary of the average Cuban. Sorry, you just wasted 90 minutes, because you did not bring he extra ONE WEEK’S SALARY to be online an extra THREE HOURS.
Think about that for a moment.
In a country that has wonderfully gifted people, with plenty of intellectual curiosity and resourcefulness, the limited access to wifi is palpable as it is painful. The bottlenecks are paperwork, price, and of course infrastructure. They are trying, and it’s getting better. So in the meantime, the Innovadores Foundation passes out free ETESCA cards at creative hotspots like FAC, La Cocinera, 304 O’Reilly and Ludwig events. Wouldn’t you?
And I promised myself not to bitch when the wifi goes down when we pass over Canada, or dip below 10,000 feet.