Thanksgiving night we sat around a dinner table with about 14 fellow cruisers in Bahia de los Muertos enjoying conversation while awaiting our meal. I had enjoyed slowing down and really getting to know some of the cruisers we had traveled with during the Baja Ha-Ha. Although I was still learning to live “off the grid” in remote places, one thing I enjoyed was the conversations without the interruption of a cell phone ring, ping or other electronic noise. Suddenly, the announcement “WIFI IS BACK UP!” emerged from the group and in an instant, the conversations ended as everyone simultaneously picked up their electronic devices and were now enthralled with connecting with friends, family and pop culture via the server that had just been restored following the storm. In an instant, the magical land we had lived in where we were less consumed with apps, social media and current events; and more enthralled with the intricate sea shells beneath our feet was gone. Now let’s be clear – I am not a purist when it comes to technology. Both kids and adults on board Tulum V thoroughly enjoy their screen time. The kids have iPads with intricate worlds they’ve created in Minecraft and they are far surpassing their old mom in adding animojis to their facetime experiences. More importantly, it was Thanksgiving, we SHOULD be connecting with loved ones when far from home. This was just one of those distinct moments when I watched the culture of an entire group change in an instant as we snapped back into modern society with the emergence a few bars on our WIFI signal indicators.
There is talk of digital detox, screen free time and tech-free experiences in our modern era and after enjoying peaceful moments at sea, away from cell towers and WIFI, there is absolutely something to be said for that. I remember the relief I felt upon leaving San Diego to finally shut my phone into airplane mode and know that the responsibility of keeping up with everyone and everything in a moment’s notice was gone. It was just you, the crew aboard and mother ocean until a cell tower emerged again – and even at that, no WIFI. I found comfort in this state. Life was simple. I got used to it and wondered why I was previously so dependent upon my electronic leash to the outside world.
On the contrary, I also gained an appreciation for that link I once had when my kids would ask a question while underway that I sort of knew the answer to, but would have typically relied upon the likes of Dr. Wikipedia to help my answer sound much more eloquent (and accurate). No WIFI in site – What to do? – Figure it out! Furthermore, there were moments I wanted to connect with friends and family back home. I want them to know we’re OK when weather rolls in near our location, to express heartfelt concern when a loved one has surgery back home, and to connect with friends to exchange empathy, joy, and laughter. The link to the outside world also serves the important functions of allowing us to keep up with current events, find updated educational resources and keep this little website going among other things.
The temporary disconnect from WIFI and cell towers is worth the experience. I joke with my kids when they have been mesmerized by a video game for too long – Hey look! It’s a real human in front of you! No really – a breathing, walking, talking human with zero electricity required! It is all too easy to rely on the vast resources available from the world wide web, but when they are not around, how do we trouble shoot a mechanical problem, help our kids figure out how to find the least common denominator (thank you fractions, I missed you) or simply figure out how to entertain ourselves? Living a bit more primitively has been a refreshing alternative for us as a family. It allows us to live in the moment, fully exercise our creativity and learn to rely on our own internal abilities to thrive. It builds strong human connections when there is no concern of being interrupted by the ping of a text, the ring or (my personal favorite) audible repeated reverberation of a phone on vibrate; or the latest notification from your favorite current events app. The constant stream of interruptions in our realtime world become overwhelming and run the risk of taking away from rich human connections. I’m guilty – if it is available, I crave information right now and I will access it. I easily get distracted with responding to a text when perhaps I should be actively listening to my kids – they’ve caught me in the act. But if I don’t have that connection, admittedly I’m just fine.
As a family, we’ve adapted to living on and off the grid. We value that rich resource that we used freely without effort back on land and now it just takes a bit more planning and patience if we want the communication link to the outside world. For now, I’m enjoying being in an area where we have our link, but I look forward to our time in a remote bay where we once again are enthralled by the seashells beneath our feet.
Normally my posts come out early in the morning…but this one is late. As a cruiser sitting on a sailboat at anchor…we don’t always have the power or internet connection to get stories out on time. So today, the HelmsMistress and her story had to wait while we worked through inspecting our rig and now a kicking’ northerly as I write (I LOVE big anchors and I cannot lie!). Gotta admit…it was a heck of a day and I’m thrilled to slow down to do some writing and drink a cold one. Wanna help us out with some dog food or a cold one? Check out our Patreon Site to see how you can help.