Chapter 3Communication

From the Guatemalan treehouse perched high above the jungle that gave new meaning to the phrase “climbing into bed,” to the Bolivian hotel built exclusively of salt blocks, to the Argentinian cattle ranch mooing into the night, I discovered one truth about lodging while backpacking abroad: the more remote, the seemingly more focus paid to securing communication for guests.

The days of traveling off the grid are still possible, but more so by ascetic choice than duress, as the Internet now inhabits even the most remote lodging and locales. Backpacking has become so interactive that in some ways you're more on the grid when abroad than when home. Backpackers are seemingly required to continuously Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and email, littering the web with photo and video evidence that they're having an amazing time.

But some communication amounts to more than tourists getting their social media fix.

Having met in Guatemala, some Europeans and I discover we'll be in three other countries at similar times, exchange contact information, and finally meet up in Peru.

While checking email, I learn that the mountainous road to my Colombian hostel has washed out, so I rebook elsewhere, saving a trudge through the mud.

After checking Facebook and learning that a friend is having her first child, I buy a handwoven blanket for her in Ecuador.

When I'm stranded in a fog bank in Arequipa, Peru, and miss my flight to Easter Island, I not only reach ...

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