One of the most annoying misconceptions about Colombia, beside the whole drug thing is that we all live in huts and the concept of cities or a mall is only an American thing. Anyone that has travelled outside of the U.S. knows that while it is vastly different, there is civilization and big cities everywhere.
Within minutes of arriving at my Mother in Law’s house we have a router hooked up and all of our devices were wirelessly connected to the web.
One of the things that Colombia has over the US when it comes to cellphones is that you don’t get charged for “airtime.” Only the person that initiates the call has to pay for those minutes. So you can get an inexpensive cell phone with little minutes and it will last you the whole trip. People will call you and you will not use many of your minutes. This pay model was even present when there were only land lines, and if you initiate the call, you pay for it… whoever gets it pays nothing.
The broadband market still not as big as in the US but it is widely available. The price is still prohivitive to most of the pupulation which makes the whole concept of internet cafes a lot more viable here vs in the US where it died as soon as computers becames just as common as TV sets in the US.
We are lucky enough to have broadband availalbe and it gives me the flexibility of being able to call back to the US using VoiP. I also can upload any pictures I take with the phone directly to facebook when I get home at night. There are still many things that technology wise are not available to everyone, but if you have the money you can get it. Like netbooks and iphones.
So far with everyone that I have talked to, facebook is the site… twitter is not really used. Social media is in full force here and many businesses big and small are really getting into the whole facebook page thing.
We had the pleasure of traveling with an editor of one of the local papers and talked about the impact of the web on the printed media, but he felt like they were years away from being replaced. I told him about how many local papers are closing or being downsized considerably there, but he explained that even though the availability of technology is there it is still not widely used. I guess the penetration is more along the side of 3DTV and Blueray, than just computers.
We still have a lot to see and visit, but so far being here has not made me feel disconnected at all. I am still playing online games and using the computer to the same capacity that I can in Chicago. There are a number of sites that do see your IP range and deny you content, like TV sites and Netflix. Other than that everything is pretty available and at a very decent speed.