That was probably the only means of communication in the last 48 hours. “Only for emergency calls”. Without warning, that was the message we got on Sunday afternoon on our cells phones when we were in San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily.
Luca and I have different providers and the fact that both cells had no service was unusual. All the while, we didn’t have any problems since we got to Sicily and thought it was a minor problem and services would resume in a couple of hours.
We were wrong about the couple of hours. That evening, service was still down and as we walked along the main stretch in San Vito Lo Capo, we saw people trying to connect at a spot which has free wifi. I decided to do the same but without any success. I didn’t really make the effort to try a second time as I was confident that services would be back up the next morning.
Checking my phone the next morning, I knew something wasn’t right when we still didn’t have service. Trying to figure out what was going on, I went to the Tourist Information Office and was told that all telephone lines, including landlines were down due to the wild fires nearby.
We had some indication there were wildfires nearby as we could smell it in the air and there was also the evidence of cinders on the terrace of the apartment, in the sea, and on the streets.
No estimate was given as to when the service would be up – the answer we got was “”as soon as possible”. We tried to know what “as soon as possible” meant and the best guesstimate was “that evening or Tuesday morning”. ATMs were down and businesses had handwritten notices outside their premises advising clients they weren’t able to process debit or credit cards. Fortunately, we had cash on us.
In a small town such as San Vito Lo Capo, that was the buzz and an inside joke was that we were completed isolated from the world. With no way to connect to the outside world, news was word of mouth and with less than 48 hours in this town, we have found that people here very friendly and helpful.
Monday night came along, still no luck and I was getting worried that family maybe trying to get in touch with us. I even told Luca that if we wake up Tuesday morning with still no service, we are going to drive in whichever direction until we got a signal. Yes, I got desperate but we know how worried family can get.
Thankfully, we got up Tuesday morning with some signs of service working though not at 100%. We quickly made a few phone calls and sent out emails while we could and as we made our way to the beach, we could see that there were lines to use the ATM. Imagine not having cash!
However, service is now back to normal and hopefully it will stay this way as being isolated felt very awkward and unsettling. For me, this is a clear indication that in today’s world, we take for granted the ability to keep in touch and not being able to do is not something we are familiar with.
How would you have felt in this situation?
P.S. We will be in Sicily for the next few weeks and posts will not be as regular. Check us out on Twitter for regular updates.