In this twenty first century world we take connectivity for granted. The Internet gives us instant insight (or is that nosiness) into the lives of friend, acquaintances and family via social networks likeFacebook, Instagram and Twitter, mobile phones make hearing the voices of our loved ones easy from where ever in the world we happen to be and news is spread via apps on our phones, tablets and other electronic gadgetry.
That is until you arrive at one of the Pacific islands. Reliant on satellites for voice and data, what service there is, is slow and intermittent and costly. International mobile phones won’t connect to the local network, local sims are prohibitively expensive for international calls; we estimated around £2.50 per minute. The solution is one from the nineties – phone cards for use in the phone booths located in places like outside of La Poste (the post office) where you just purchased the card. The line quality is poor but manageable for a quick call to parents at about 25p a minute.
As for the Internet another card gives you 5 hours Internet access via wifi hotspots for around £3 per hour at early eighties dial up speed but only if you are within range of the hotspot and an early bird. We spent an hour or so sitting outside La Poste in Taihoae, Nuka Hiva downloading just email headers one morning but it’s better to get online before 7am if you actually want to read them! There are apparently data sims available offering a (slow) GPRS service (remember using your first smartphone in the late nineties?) but we couldn’t buy one in Atuona as they had no stock and suspect like much else here they won’t be cheap.
Only the main villages of the Marquesas have any sort of connectivity. Once Temptress arrives in the atolls of Tuamoto some 500nm further west we can apparently expect nothing at all except our sat phone. If you’ve wondered why this blog gets updated in spurts it is because we either have reached a hotspot on a not too busy period or we are using the sat phone to download a weather forecast in which case we also take the opportunity to quickly upload some text only posts. Photos will mostly have to wait like much else until we reach Tahiti.