My Woktenna


My computer desk

I confess that I am an internet junkie. I can’t imagine life before the internet. With reliable access to the internet, I can teach online classes, find online games and activities for ESL, contact my friends and family through Skype, update my blog, check daily news, and post on Facebook.

Seven years ago, we had to walk into town to the internet cafĂ© because there was no access to the internet in La Paloma. When a rat peed on my laptop and fried my motherboard, it was time for me to return to the states. Even without internet access, I was constantly on my laptop, writing my Nica News, playing Spider Solitaire, and writing a book about our lives on Ometepe Island. Ron commented, “Sometimes, I feel like a computer widower.”

When we returned to live on Ometepe Island in 2010, I was thrilled to discover that Claro sold a dongle that I could attach to my laptop for instant internet access. I purchased an 18 month contract and Guillermo built me a special computer desk. The only problem was that the darn volcano in my backyard blocked the Claro tower, thus I received a weak signal. In order for me to get a stronger signal, I had to take my laptop into the garden and face the dongle toward the Claro tower. Well, that was going to be a big problem during the rainy season, so I had to come up with a creative solution for a stronger signal.

“Hmmm, I need to make a trap or a funnel for the signal,” I thought. One day, I was in my favorite secondhand store in Rivas. I spotted a wok lid under a pile of used sheets and pillowcases. My creative juices started flowing. A wok lid is aluminum, lightweight, and could work as a little satellite dish. I bought the wok lid for 10 cordobas and hurried home to experiment.

My woktenna

I removed the knob of the wok lid and poked the dongle through the hole. Then, using a 12 foot USB cable that Cory brought from the states, I attached one end of the cable to the dongle, and the other end to the USB port in my laptop. I attached a long pole to the woktenna dish with duct tape (Did I tell you how much I love duct tape?). Then, I wired the pole to the bookcase above my laptop.

It was a miracle! I had a strong signal. I can get access to the internet easily and quickly. It is unbelievably reliable. And all for 10 cordobas! Cory paid for the USB cable, which was about $30. I am in internet heaven again, while poor Ron, the internet widower, waits patiently for me to finish my blog posts.

Next post, I will tell you the essentials that you need to bring to a tropical climate for your electronic equipment. A tropical climate and constant brownouts wreak havoc on electronic equipment.

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4 thoughts on “My Woktenna

    • Jill, we have to get very creative living on Ometepe Island. For example, our electric pole, actually a spindly tree trunk, was almost washed away with last year’s floods. So, we had to hire a man to go to the volcano and cut a strong tree trunk to replace the old one. He delivered 2 tall tree trunks at 4 am this morning with a horse cart. Then, we hired 4 local guys to dig two big holes, tip the heavy trunks into the holes, then restring all the electric wire onto the new poles. For 4 hours of work, we paid the workers a total of $10. It was a dangerous job, but the electric company wouldn’t replace our poles. We put a work order in 6 mo. ago to replace our electric meter because it doesn’t work. We have yet to see them. So, Ron had to bypass the broken meter and hot wire the house. Our electric runs about $5 a month. Every month the meter reader comes to our house to read the broken meter. Every month we tell him we put a work order in to replace the meter. Every month we receive a bill for $5 because the meter doesn’t work. Go figure. All I can say is…it’s Nicaragua. Things don’t work the same around here. :-)

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