Brief portrait of a blogging backpacker

Picture me, on the couch of a budget hotel, laptop on lap, connected to wifi at $5 per 50 megabytes, surfing the web with images disabled (to save bandwidth), checking my email, paying off my credit cards, checking my bank account balance, cellphone in hand, calling Sprint to cancel my cell phone service, calling my bank and credit card companies to let them know I’m traveling.

I have to admit that paying for internet access by bandwidth is a little frustrating. I don’t want to run out in the middle of doing something important, so I take every available precaution to limit my usage. With Flash blocked and images disabled, I can get a lot done, but I do miss wandering around on Google Maps. And I haven’t had a chance to check up on blogs in over a month.

Stephanie and I found a rare cafe with free wifi where I was able to update all my container ship posts so that when you click on the image you get an enlarged version of the same. Check it out. I also spent some time wrapping my head around latitude and longitude GPS formats, so I went back and cleaned up what I’d posted to be a little more standard (with links to Google Maps in the degree-decimal format). Unfortunately the cafe didn’t have power outlets or public restrooms, so our time there was short-lived.

One minor setback. The satellite modem was held up by customs because I’d listed the value at $1,500. Apparently anything leaving the country with a value over $1,000 needs some additional export control form. I’m not even sure what the thing is “worth” since it was just a rental. Kicking myself right now for not putting down $500. And of course it was Friday night when I found out (it boggles the mind that I even got the notice, mailed to the budget hotel, which I’d entered as my return address, on the last night we were staying here), so I have to wait to do this on Monday. What else do I have to do, right? But it still burned me—especially because I was so good about shipping it back the very day we arrived in New Zealand. C’est la vie!

Update: Called New Zealand Post on Monday, explained the situation, they told me to fax the details to them. So I had to find a place to send a fax, and conveniently found one near where we’re staying. They released it for shipping on Tuesday, so hopefully it won’t arrive too long after I’d planned.