La Secundaria

Monday, August 18, 2008

Macuil has Internet access.  This is quite a change from when I first visited the town in the late 90’s and early 00’s.  Then, there was very limited phone access, with a couple of lines offered through a store in the center of town.  Whenever a call would come for someone, an announcement would have to be made over a loudspeaker for the person to come and call back or wait for a follow-up call.

By the time I came again during Christmas 2004, the town had pooled together and received phone access through Telmex, with most individual households signing up for a phone line.

And when I visited last year, I learned that there was Internet access available through the library.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to check it out firsthand because the library is only open on days school is session and we were here during summer break.  Fortunately, today is the first day of school in Macuil and Oaxaca City as well.  And if I didn’t want to wait, this year there is, in addition to the library, a little business that offers Internet access for 10 pesos/hour.

Unfortunately, access is down for some reason, both at the library and at the store.  Though quite far from one another, they seem to share some a connection.

So, I haven’t had Internet access since August 13th, when we were in Oaxaca and I am getting desperate.  I can live without various modern technologies.  I don’t have an iPod, unlike some of the kids here.  I haven’t driven a car since I have been in Oaxaca nor have I used a cell phone since we got here and have only once or twice wished I had one so Margarita and I could call each other and figure out where to meet.  And I haven’t even had those thoughts recently, since Macuil’s really not big enough to get completely and inconveniently separated.

And I haven’t missed TV, even though I probably watch too much of it back home.  It had been nice watching some of the Olympics in Oaxaca City.  I don’t usually care too much about such things; it is hard for me to get worked up about the accomplishments of someone who just happened to have been born in the same country as me (or went to the same school as me, etc.).  But it is fun being around Mexicans routing for their countrymen, since they are generally the underdogs.  Also, it was nice to see them be happy for other countries’ athletes, like Michael Phelps, instead of taking an us vs. them attitude.

Still, now that we are here in Macuil, I don’t really miss TV, and I could watch more if I wanted (and the occasional updates I have caught about the Olympics have been nice).  Broadcast access is pretty minimal.  We’re up in the mountains and only one channel comes through.  This year, however, I have noticed a proliferation of Sky Television satellite antennas.  So there is more TV access now than ever.  I am curious to see what’s available, but I haven’t been in anyone’s home yet who had it.  Even if I did visit someone’s home who had it, I’m not sure I would see it.  In general, there is not really a tradition here of having a living room like space with a TV that you can just plop down in front of and watch.  Most of the TVs I have seen have been tucked away in bedrooms, a place to watch a little news before falling asleep.

So, while I am surviving, and in fact enjoying, being separated from many technologies, I am dying without the Internet.  I need it to check in with my family, check on my house, my finances, what is happening in the world, and of course to work.  I have just about hit my limit for being offline.

Thankfully, Margarita’s uncle offers to take me up to the secundaria, the junior high, to see about using the Internet there.  They have their own access separate from the library’s apparently.

The secundaria is pretty far up the mountain, at the edge of the town.  It was built up there to provide it plenty of space for workshops, to raise animals, and the like.

When we arrive during the late morning, the kids are lounging around outside, dressed in their school uniforms.  We have arrived during the late morning meal time.  Macuil, unlike many towns, has a full secundaria, with teachers to teach all of the subjects.  Other towns I have been to have telesecundarias, where it seems that at least some content, such as English instruction, is conveyed via television.  As a result, kids from surrounding towns come to Macuil to attend the secundaria.  And now, as Macuil’s population is declining, the school must rely more and more on such students to continue.

The teachers seem to be gathered under an awning eating.  We wait around for them to finish.  Margarita comments that the secundaria looks pretty much the same as it did when she attended the school.

After a while, the teachers and administrators finish, and after a little consultation, we gain permission for me to use the Internet.  I am lead to a room that is full of pretty new looking computers and am grateful for the opportunity to finally get connected.  For some reason, the connection turns out to be rather slow, but at least I am able to touch base with people.



  1. […] One problem will be finding a phone line that I can use.  It’s nice the town has been hooked up with phone service, but the house we are staying in hasn’t been.  I’ll have to find someone who […]

  2. […] the tin roofs we have here), and a clear line of sight to the south.  So, it’s not like the Sky dishes which I have seen attached to sides of houses and basically wherever.  Still, the satellite people […]

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