The journey of getting internet overseas.
Overseas sometimes the little things seem nearly impossible to accomplish.
The importance of establishing an internet connection to the outside world isn’t always as easy as it seems or as you think it should be while living cross-culturally. There were few hardwired connections in the metropolis of Casablanca, so we were introduced to using the USB internet stick. Easily enough, a passport ID is the only documentation required before purchasing the stick. Then every month or so it was necessary to recharge the minutes at a local hanuit (tiny convenience store). Success depended on the location being open due to Friday prayers, Ramadan, or some other Islamic holiday. I began to grow weary of standing against the wall or sitting in a certain position in order to get a slow internet reception. When more than a single laptop was needed, a second stick became necessary. Somewhere along the way, we discovered the ISP’s wireless internet router that used a faster speed stick and didn’t need recharging. This way, the entire family could use the connection and sit wherever we wanted in our apartment!
Sounded good until I discovered from the ISP retailer that in order to purchase the equipment, it was necessary to have a bank account from which they could auto-draft the monthly subscription fee. A bank account can only be obtained once residency has been approved. It takes many trips, interviews and waiting in lines at the Prefecture (police dept) to even get one temporary Carte de Sejour. Residency is only granted if the person has a work permit (job or business). As an employee, we qualified for all of the above with one exception. The government likes to modify the rules midstream which made the bureaucracy difficult to maneuver. Many months passed and it was finally possible to open a bank account (another feat in itself) all the while traveling by foot or taxi since we didn’t yet own a car. Simple enough, now it was just a matter of going back to the Meditel store and sealing the deal! I should have known better. Very few things are ever that easy while living in a spiritually oppressive country. Multiple attempts back and forth lost in translation, and proper paperwork issues can make it feel like you’re trudging through quicksand in order to get anything accomplished.
At one point, I stepped out of the Meditel store near a busy intersection, defeated once again. The walk back home was a good 30 minutes past businesses, the soccer stadium, and back into the neighborhood where we lived. Walking everywhere became a way of life in the big city and this was no different. As I traveled along the sidewalk, a man coming the opposite direction bumped my hand which knocked his pack of smokes out of his hand. I stopped to bend over and give the cigarettes back to him, meanwhile, he began to put a move on me. Was this some kind of Moroccan greeting? Intuitively something was not right, as I soon found out the money in my right front pocket was gone. The amount of dirhams to pay for the new router that wasn’t possible to buy minutes earlier had just been stolen. Determined to get my 1,000 dirhams returned, I looked everywhere for him with no success. Quickly, within a matter of seconds, he had disappeared. Where did he go?
I had been pickpocketed while trudging back from an unsuccessful trip to get the precious router for my family.
Eventually, everything fell into place for the equipment connecting us to the internet. Technology has become a necessary tool for effective ministry work around the world and many of us depend on internet access to perform daily tasks in our 21st-century lives.