Sunday, December 07, 2008

Jungle Technology

This article was written by my oldest daughter. ( Keepin' Sane with Littles) I am dedicating it to a good friend, Siberian Tom, (sambeno) and he will understand why!!!

I love technology. Love, love, love technology. Email is wonderful, so is blogging, the internet is my greatest resource for learning and shopping. Telephones are pretty great as well. Webcams, Blackberries, IPods and PalmPilots, they are all neat to me. I don't own all these things, but I love the way they enhance the world we live in. Did I forget to mention cell phones? I like those too! Perhaps I have such a deep appreciation for these gadgets since I remember a time when we didn't have them. While the rest of the world IMed, and talked on the phone, we were eating worms and trying to send smoke signals. The village of Chajurana actually got pretty "advanced" technology wise at the end of my parent's time there, but in the beginning....that's a different story.

The first time we stepped foot in Chajurana was for a two week visit (that is another post for another day) we had four hammocks (for six people),some grits, and packs of soup. There was a weight limit on the plane since no one had landed in that village for years and all we could take were hammocks, a small amount of food, and a few articles of clothing. We had a book a piece if I recall (my mom can't go anywhere without books) and I reread that book about fifteen times, or more, during our stay there. We took nothing that was even remotely technological.

So there we were, in the middle of the Amazon surrounded by Indian children who had never seen white people, the plane flew off (Would he really be back in two weeks? What if he was kidding?) and we had no way of communicating with the outside world. Talk about being disconnected. We survived those two weeks, just barely and I will write about that another day, promise. We did however decided that next time, we would take a radio to the village. It gets mighty lonesome in a village of 500 people who don't speak your language.

The next time we flew into the village it was for two months. That was the time there was a malaria epedemic, my mom hallucinated, we learned to eat roasted monkey, and Jayde (baby sister) learned to walk on a dirt floor. That is also another post, for another day. During that visit we had a radio. There was a "quirk" to this radio though. We could hear what people were saying, but we couldn't communicate to them. It helped a little though. Saturday mornings were my favorite. We would climb out of our hammocks (we each had our own finally!!) turn on the radio and listen to "Adventures in Odyssey" being broadcasted from HCJB in Quito, Ecudaor. God bless that ministry. It kept us sane.

Thoughout our years in Chajurana technology advanced. My dad got his Ham radio license, a radio antenna, and could now communicate with the outside world. Every evening missionaries all over the jungle would gather round their radios and swap stories.
"How's everything in Parupa, Walt? Over."
"Great. Shwalkdjfljdlkje a snake, ate some dkjeiowajdkfj, built a house dkjfodifen duct tape, saved dfjkdhiue eeeooooweeeeee, and the kids caught a slkjfdooboo to keep as pet.Over."

(If you don't understand the above sentence, then you obviously haven't learned radio language.)

We loved those times around the radio, we felt connected and not so alone. Without communication it was very easy to get discouraged. We learned from some other missionaries that there was a way to use our radio to call the US. It's called a phone tap. Basically, from your ham radio you contact a ham radio buff in the US (one guy I remember was from Wisconsin) who has a machine where he can connect his radio to the telephone and you give him the number (hopefully the static isn't too bad and he can get it down clearly, and hopefully someone is home to answer the phone) We called family members a couple of times. I remember calling my Grandma and my Aunt Pam.

"Hi! We're calling from the jungle, on the radio, there's a guy in Wisconsin helping us.You have to say over when you're done talking. Over."

"YOU'RE IN WISCONSIN????" (She thought the louder she talked the better we could hear her.)

"No. There is a guy in Wisconsin helping are you? Remember to say over. Over."


"Say over.Over."


They never really got the whole "over" thing. But it was still fun. I always wondered if those guys who helped us with the phone ever realized how much it encouraged us.

Anyway...after our radio days came the email days. The email also came through the radio. I don't understand exactly how it worked, just that it was slow. Very slow. There was one channel that was the email channel to be shared among all the tribal missionaries. Now, we all know that missionaries are very godly, loving people, right? NOT WHEN IT COMES TO EMAIL. We would start checking email in the morning, the process is simple.
1. Boot up the one hundred year old computer.
2. Still booting up the computer...
3. Turn the radio to the correct station.
4. Listen to the very annoying beep beeping sound of someone else getting their email. (This step lasted three hours)
5. Wait at least two minutes after the other missionary gets off before jumping in to check yours. Jump in too soon and the channel crashes.
6. Mumble something under your breath as yet another missionary jumps in before you.
7. Listen to his annoying beep beeping sound for about two hours.
8. Jump in as soon as he gets off, without waiting for the two minutes, because you're desperate for outside news.
9. Bang your head against the desk when you realize that you crashed the channel from jumping in too soon. Jump and wave your arms in frustration as the Indians watch you.
10. Get on another channel to plead with the MAF guy in charge of the channel to run home and reset the channel.
11. Wait two hours for him to do that.
12. Sit by the radio listening to the static till you hear that it's clear, and then check your email.
13. Wait three hours for your email to come home and then sit in dismay as you realize that it only took that long because someone tried to send you a picture of their new puppy. The pictured didn't come through, just a bunch of letters like this: ahdojfkjd{{dlkfjdofj[]]]. OR excitedly read the newsy, text only, emails that came from friends or family.
14. Go to bed.
15. Wake up and turn the radio on. It's email time!

See? Simple. And so worth it. Whenever I find myself complaining about my internet connection being slow here, I remember those 15 steps, it puts everything into prespective.


Siberia Tom said...

In those few years I made more friends whom I had never met than ever in my life. Too many times a total stranger would walk up to me and thank me for the HF email system. Of course I knew no names just places names. Do you remember the week when the MAF radio got hit by lightning twice within 24 hours. And the second time we had borrowed your radio modem to get it all working again. Tweeeeeeeeeet click Tweet click Tweeeeeeeeeet click Tweet click Tweeeeeeeeeet click Tweet click Tweeeeeeeeeet click Tweet click Tweeeeeeeeeet click Tweet click Tweeeeeeeeeet Tweet click Tweeeeeeeeeet ZAPPPPPP .............................. Or the time Paul was telling everyone that would listen over his 200w icom (talk to China radio) that the email was down again and he was totally cut off. (we never realized how much it meant.)

MightyMom said...

it's all about perspective huh!

and not for nothing, friend, but either you have international dandruff.....or your website is snowing.....


Soul Skittles said...

Wow...XD That last part sort of amused me.
Your blog is flurrying!! :D :D Where'd you get that?

~K~ said...

I was once on the receiving end of a ham radio phone call from the Amazon!

I'm glad the good Lord sent me here where I serve. I'm not sure if I'm cut out for jungle life!

Brooke said...

Your kids write so well, JM! :)

Jungle Mom said...

Siberia Tom. Yes, I do remember poor Paul telling us all how he was cut off. But,if he was cut off, how come we all knew it?? LOL.
And the lightening strikes, I do remember that. Good times!!!

Jungle Mom said...

MM, I wanted to make it snow in the jungle!!

Anonymous said...

Saur♥Kraut said...

What an absolutely GREAT post! So you got sick and hallucinated, huh, Rita? And to think that lots of idiots actually PAY to do that!

Anonymous said...

please check those links from yourtube, you will love them or maybe you already did check them!!

Jungle Mom said...

Anonymous, I just checked them,LOL! Who are you?????

gecko said...

Great post. It sure is easy to take everything for granted, but it still doesn't stop us from complaining though :)

Kath said...

Wonderful read! Thanks! We used to talk to my parents in Africa over the "Ham Radio/Phone" system sometimes. The first time they called that way, I had no idea such a thing was possible and I was a little bit like your sister: "Who is this? You have my parents on the line? What are you talking about?!" :) At the time, we never realized what we'd be up to today! Wonder what we'll be up to in ten/twenty years! By the way, the "snow" is cute! At first, I thought something was wrong with my peripheral vision!

groovyoldlady said...

Gee...that's worse than dial up! :D

Pam said...

She's such a great writer! I love reading her stuff! And she never fails to make me chuckle. Over!

We once used a friend here who had his Ham operators licence. He helped us patch a call to some man in the same city as my in laws - who had no phone at the time. So the man in their city drove over to their home, brought them to his home to speak to us over the HAM! The word OVER didn't go over to well with them either!

Pam said...

Is your blog trying to snow! I keep seeing white specks on your green background. Maybe it's a sign that it's time for me to try to get some sleep. Its 4 a.m.