Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It is difficult to get on the internet in rural Kenya. We knew this would be true, but the fact that it is not impossible makes the difficulty more irritating.

SUNDAY: Hey Aunt Debbie, back home in the U.S. Can we get on the internet? Yes, there is a satellite modem thing kicking around. Can we have it? Yes, ask Rukia; it should be in your house. Hey Rukia, where in the house is the modem? It is not in the house. Lawrence has it; ask him.

MONDAY: Hey Lawrence, do you have the modem? Yes, it is at my house, I will bring it tomorrow. Great. So we will be able to use it with our computer? No, you will have to use the computer in the computer lab. [The "computer lab" is one of the only rooms on the school grounds that has electricity. It contains ten computers, only two of which seem to work, though I hope to change that.] The modem won't work with our computer? No, you will have to buy a new modem, because to prevent theft, each modem is keyed to work with only one computer. Very smart, I admit. Can we get a modem in the local town? Wah ha hah! No. You will have to go to Nairobi for that.

TUESDAY: Here is the modem. In order to make it work, you will have to put money on its SIM card, just like the phone. Oh and how do we do that? You walk to town and buy little cards in small denominations and punch a little code into your phone. Okay, so that's for the phone, but what about the modem? I do not know. Ask them in town.

WEDNESDAY: Jacky, at the store in town that sells minutes, can I put 2,500 KSH worth of minutes on my modem's SIM? Yes but the largest denomination I have is 100. And I only have 14 of those so after that you will have to key in 50s.

I will spare you more complainy details because -- if you are reading this -- it seems like the modem is working! I can't stay mad at you, Kenyan internet!

Watch this space for updates unrelated to technological obstacles.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Just try to think of "obstacles" like this as Zelda-esque quests.

    Lawrence, keeper of the Modem of Ages, possesses but a piece of the puzzle. In order to make The Modem work you must journey into town to collect the Relics of SIM.

    Speaking of nerdiness, did you bring Magic cards in the hopes of teaching some locals to play?

  3. Relics of SIM!!!! Wahh ha ha!

    NO, sir, I did not bring Magic cards to teach to rural Kenyans. It is a painful addiction, and when you can't even get your hands on the cards, OMG. The jonesing!