The Technology Abyss

I can’t seem to find my way out of it. Six weeks ago my Notebook battery died. I was at home charging it and my current was too hot and blew it out. I looked in town for a replacement but there aren’t any “real” computer stores here. I located a store in Kingston and they said it would take 3 weeks to receive it. In the meantime a friend of mine located another store in Kingston who said it would only take 1 week to receive so I went with that store.

I have been calling repeatedly for 5 weeks and they told me a week ago that it was in Miami but hadn’t made it’s way across the pond yet. I checked again last week and lo and behold, it was shipped to the wrong address so it will take another 1-2weeks to receive it. Once it arrives in Kingston I will take a 2.75 hour bus ride to pick it up.

Then, last week, after putting my thumb drive into a computer at the Youth Information Center I work at, I noticed my Peace Corps folder and some other folders were missing. I also noticed that my remaining files had all been turned into .exe files. Yes, every computer in the center was infected with viruses and I lost a lot of important information. As you can imagine, my first reaction was disbelief followed by a deep sadness. Then I got pissed. The center does not do routine computer maintenance – some of the antiviral programs in use are over 3 years old and outdated. This could have been prevented.

Suffice it to say I am extremely disappointed about this. Not having my own personal computer to use certainly put me at risk for a situation like this. I have not been able to communicate with my friends and family on a regular basis and that has been frustrating as well. I’m feeling out of touch with the people that are important to me.

All is not well in paradise…

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3 Responses to The Technology Abyss

  1. Joan Van De Moortel says:

    Hi Mary,
    Though who knows how long before you have technology back, I write confident that you will eventually. This sounds closer to the third world I know. There’s a reason the Peace Corps isn’t in Japan, Spain, Canada…. And a reason why you’re there. It also sounds like you’re experiencing the normal acculturation cycle. I’m betting the Peace Corps training addressed this. I’m also betting you didn’t really understand it when you heard it – maybe some do, but I don’t know anyone who “gets it” until they experience it. Phase One: the Honeymoon – everything is so interesting! Different! Exciting! It’s wonderful! Phase Two, about 3 months in: What the heck? Why do they do that? Why can’t they…? Basically, the bloom is fading, differences bring up more frustration than wonder, criticism rises, you begin to step back. Which takes you to Phase Three, often coming in at around 6 months: How can they live like this?! You’re frustrated/disgusted, lonely, isolated regardless of the size of the crowd (or the technology). What you’d thought were agreements you discover aren’t agreed upon. Core values, many you never realized you even had, are challenged – which actually helps you identify and define core values. For what it’s worth, this is the nadir – sure ‘nuf Toto, you’re not in Kansas. After that comes the ongoing process of Phase 4 – Acculturation/Incorporation/Gone Native: You evaluate both cultures, and take the best (for you) of each. You’ve determined that certain things from your culture are very important, and are at your core. Certain other things, not so much. The new culture offers customs, ideas, food, arts, traditions, daily living that are interesting, valuable, enjoyable . Perfect? No. But it’s said on pretty good authority, you gotta die before you get to heaven.

    It can be helpful to repeat a mantra to yourself – This process is normal, necessary, and temporary. As a Vietnamese refugee colleague once said to me, “If you transplant a tree, it takes a year for it to adjust to new soil, light, water, temperature and show new growth. Why don’t we give the same break to humans?”

    Think of you often. Others too – as in yesterday when talking with David working on a new, really complex case (sound familiar?), David said, “I really miss Mary.”

    hugs&luv, joan

    • Mary Trotter says:

      Hi Joan,

      Thanks for your post. You nailed it. The Honeymoon is definitely over! I don’t say that with malice but with truth.

      If there’s anyone who understands this process, it’s you. Thanks for helping to put it into perspective for me. One of the hardest parts for me to adjust to has been the fact that Jamaica, an advanced third world country, has a lot more {More=fill in the blank: more resources, food sources, natural resources, technology, educated people, etc.} than many of the other third world countries. Yet, so many of the issues and challenges faced by the people here are due to mismanagement of these very things. It appears that I’ve moved into Phase Three, as you’ve described it. Looks like I’m a little ahead of schedule.

      I’ve certainly begun the acculturation process. Actually, I’ve integrated quite well. Having said that, Jamaica is a very complex country with a long and interesting past. Knowing the history helps me understand some of the cultural mores and at least, recognize, if not fully understand, others.

      I miss you and the folks at Care for You! I’ve been thinking about Violet & Elizabeth lately and hope they are doing well.

      Hug & luv to you,
      Mary

  2. Jenny Offt says:

    Hi Mary,
    Sounds very frustrating like only technology can be!
    Alas communication! You are finding other methods and relying on the old ways instead?

    Sounds like a great opportunity to fill a need!

    Love you, miss you, think of you often.
    Jenny

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