Fortunately today finds me in better accommodation; a pleasant little hostel where I feel much less like a fugitive John whoring out little children. The town is a rundown place that I think any photographer would have trouble making look beautiful. Funnily enough, all the paintings I’ve seen have been very impressionistic, showing a town mostly out of focus and with a lot more trees and colours and less flies and beggars than reality would suggest. Houses are stacked on the hills, threatening to slide off with the next heavy rains. Pedlars, and beggars roam about and when they find a foreigner they latch on like leeches. I pass the ‘shopping mall’, normally a refuge from the beggars. However, it turns out that it is no more than a grocery store that has added a couple of aisles of school supplies and assorted paraphernalia. It seems like a bare bones city in every sense of the word; roaming about I don’t even see the ever-prevalent McDonald’s and Burger king, which is a shame since I really had a hankering for a burger! I sated myself on a pound of strawberries for 50 cents though. Internet places are present, though not so prolific as found in South America or SE Asia. I duck in to see everyone sitting back chatting. It seems like more of a common gathering type place than the faceless cafes. I’m almost hesitant to intrude, “Um, un ordinateur s’il vous plait”. The man at the counter nods casually to a free computer and continues his conversation without pause. I get on the computer and begin typing only to have all my script turn out jumbled up. I look down at the keyboard, rub my eyes and wonder at my newly found dyslexia. The ‘QWERTY’ keyboard has been replaced by the equivalent of ‘AZER’. I type in the address bar painfully slowly as I search around for the keys in the most remote parts of the keyboard. And ‘ENTER’…I slam the final key with satisfaction and derision.
Now I see why everyone is chatting rather than actually using their computers. It was probably the equivalent of a 24kb modem (if that). I click, you click, they click, we ALL wait. I want to type out an email but the keyboard and internet speed kill my patience. I leave and head into one of the open air markets. I only need an umbrella and rubber boots but I wander the stalls and can’t find either! It completely baffles me that they have the most eclectic of goods and nothing as simple as a pair of rain boots in a place that it rains so often! I occasionally accost people if I see them wearing boots and ask “Pour l’amour de Dieu ou est[ce que vous avez achetez ces bottes?” (Where in the name of God did you buy those boots?). They were a gift is the inevitable reply. And so, I’m left thwarted by what I thought would have been the simplest of tasks.
Having bought and brought a new harddrive from Canada I proceed to install it with Linux, only to be greeted with a black screen and an angry buzz rather than the happy apple chime. I’m a little ‘peeved’ that the new HDD isn’t working so I install the old one. Same black screen. “You’ve got to be kidding me”, arises the old refrain! I play around with it for several hours and find that if I hold down F1 while it boots than 1 in 6 times the computer actually boots properly. A fantastic start I’m sure you’d agree.
I leave my hostel one night and disoriented by the curving streets and the falling night I run into a part of town I haven’t been in before. To my amazement, I see an apple store. The lit Mcintosh symbol a beacon of hope! The following day I bring in my laptop with the urgent plea to fix it and install a new OSX. “No problem, should be ready in 2 hrs”. I leave content, eat an ice cream, chill out at a little cafe and come back. “You know your computer’s not working right?” is the question I’m greeted with. “Ah yeah, I realized” – my hesitant reply. “I’ll see what I can do, but no promises”. “Alright, I understand”. “And that will be $70”. I roll my eyes. The cut isn’t deep, but I’m sure the guy that died a death by a thousand of ’em didn’t think that either.