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3 More “Conveniences” I Missed When Traveling

Walking home with the grocery shopping, Ottawa, February 2015
Walking home with the grocery shopping, Ottawa, February 2015

My tan is already fading. I think so, anyway—it’s not like I have many occasions to strip and take selfies in front of the mirror these days. It’s cold, bitterly cold, so cold that I already forgot what it feels like to sweat.

And I certainly don’t want to be naked, unless I’m under a hot shower.

It’s been a week since we got back. I had coffee (many cups actually). I chop vegetables every night, and yes, I pee alone—most of the time anyway.

So what else did I miss that I can enjoy freely in Canada? I need more incentives to stay here!

The convenience of a fridge

The other day, I called my mum on Skype from my phone, on my way to the supermarket.

“Isn’t it too cold to walk outside?” she asked.

“Meh. I’m almost running. I mean, I would if I wasn’t having a smoke and talking to you. Besides, I really need… don’t laugh, please—a frozen pizza. They are on sale and I like to have a couple in the fridge, just in case I don’t have the time to cook.”

“Well, I guess they won’t spoil on your way back home!” she laughed.

Indeed, they wouldn’t—the perks of living in a giant fridge.

A fridge is an awesome appliance. I miss it during the trip: food spoils easily when it’s hot and humid. A few hotel rooms had minibars and we would stick a banana and a yogurt in the cooler, but most of the time we had to do without a fridge. It sucked, because I love yogurts and cold drinks. I had to buy my dairy fix at the end of the day and eat it right away, and we couldn’t shop at the supermarket even if we were staying a few days in the same city.

In Canada, we have a big “frigo américain” as the French say—a big top-mount fridge with a freezer on top and the refrigerator at the bottom. I don’t use the freezer much (we have Feng’s ice cream in it, as well as the two frozen pizzas I bought) but the refrigerator is full of yogurts, veggies, eggs, tofu, ham, etc.

Second appliance I missed? A microwave. I don’t eat frozen dinners but it’s still very handy to warm out left-overs or make oatmeal or even a quick single-serve soup!

A fast Internet connection

With the exception of Buenos Aires where the Wi-Fi was consistently crappy and/or a paying option, we managed to connect in each city we stayed in. Yet, our connection was generally unreliable and slower than at home.

Keeping the blog updated was an interesting exercise, as I had very little time (a short window at the end of the night) and a bad connection. I prepared all the articles offline, choosing the pictures, resizing them, and uploading in batches as soon as the Wi-Fi was working fine. I wrote many of the articles during bus trips, for as long as my laptop battery would allow (50 minutes top).

At home, I take my Internet connection for granted and I complained if it lags just a little bit. If else fails, I can always check my emails on my phone or any place that offers free Wi-Fi, such as the library or Starbucks.

The downside of being connected all the time is that there is always something to do online. I wish I had had the time to reply to all the comments and questions, but other than that, I don’t feel I missed out much. Which makes me wonder… do I spend too much time online at home?

Making phone calls

I’m not a phone person. In fact, I almost only use my Android for emails and apps but for the occasional where-are-you-can-you-buy-bread call to Feng. Last year, I installed Skype on my phone and I realized I could call my mom in France from anywhere, which is pretty cool. I also have a couple of friends I enjoy having long conversations with, so whenever I walk to the store, I use this time to make my phone calls. It’s a practical way to stay in touch.

However, I don’t travel with my phone. We have enough electronic devices (camera, Kindle, a laptop) and I wouldn’t know how to use it efficiently anyway (what’s “roaming”? Why is my bill two billions dollars?).

I did miss the convenience of making a quick call when I met Chiruza Canadiense, as we had to set up our meeting by email and I could very well have missed her. Having a phone would have been handy as well when Feng and I split to explore different parts of the city.

On the downside, the phone ring startled me the other day, and I’m back dealing with relentless telemarketers who think I need to clean the gutters, upgrade my Internet connection, buy insurance or apply for a new credit card.

Sigh.

 

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