Saturday, June 1, 2013

No Phone? No Problem.

“We’re finally on the plane. Hope to take off soon. This will be our last communication until we return to Miami in 10 days. Happy Mother’s Day. We love you all.”
I sent this text to my wife Tori's parents and my family before we left the Miami International Airport for Havana before powering down my phone for our flight. When we landed about an hour later, my iPhone had been reduced to a camera, note-pad, and voice recorder. Not too shabby, but far from the icon of connectivity it is back in the states.
Without cell-service, the "Maps" app on our
iPhones was useless. so we took pictures like
this one from guide-book in case we got lost.

While we were only about 90 miles from Miami, cell-phone service – at least for those travelling from the U.S. with American service providers like A-T & T or Sprint – does not exist in Cuba. We were also informed ahead of time that Internet service in Havana would be limited.

Tori and I thought this was great. We aren’t anti-social people, but we grew up in an era free from social media and smart-phones (I was 22 when I got my first phone and all I could do with it was make/take calls). At times - I think it’s safe to say - we resent the expectation that we’re “available” 24/7.

Street art in Havana.
Knowing none of the apps on my phone would work, I deleted them to free up space for images and sounds of Havana. Tori did the same. Between the two of us, we took more than 500 pictures with our phones (and a thousand more with our DSLR-style camera).

It wasn’t until we returned to Miami a week-and-a-half later that I fully realized how liberating it was to disconnect from the virtual society we live in. While waiting in line to go through U.S. Customs, I turned on my phone to nearly one-hundred e-mails, about two-dozen text- and voice-messages and several more Facebook notifications.

As I sifted through them, a classmate asked, “What was your favorite part of the trip?”

I responded that I'd need some time to reflect before I could respond to her question. Now, a few days (and hundreds more messages) later, I can without a doubt say that it was when my phone stopped working.

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