Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Back to the Old Days

February 5th, 2012: a normal Sunday in the rest of the world; Super Bowl Sunday in the United States. My husband happens to be an American, not being in (t)his country of American football. Instead he is in the middle of nowhere and –for once- not very happy about it. Where to watch the Giants and the Patriots play the most important and popular game of the world and the year? There are no bars, no restaurants and no ex-pats living nearby. We don’t have TV, let alone fast internet; the radio stations are Panamanian…

Mark thinks about making an announcement on VHF #72, the channel most cruisers in the San Blas islands stand by on. “Does anyone have satellite TV to watch the Super Bowl tonight? We will bring rum and popcorn in return for watching the game!” For some reason, he doesn’t think this will work out. In the meantime, we hear other cruisers make plans for Super Bowl parties on their boats, while we are wondering “How the heck are they going to watch this event?” We somehow find out those Americans will listen to the Super Bowl on their SSB radio.

With difficulty, Mark discovers the right channel for the game and when the clock shows 6:30pm our small SSB receiver is wedged between a top hatch, the antenna leaning against a metal shroud. We turn the wind generator and the fridge off, to avoid interference. On this cool February evening, we are snuggled up in bed and listen to a radio voice broadcasting Super Bowl 46: the New York Giants against the New England Patriots. The radio station is called AFN: Armed Forces Network. I feel like we are living in the 1930s, when radio was basically the only form of entertainment and news source. While the broadcaster’s monotone voice talks faster and slower, depending on the developments in the covered stadium, some ads are thrown in, and I doze off, while Mark follows the game. Even when I watch a football game on TV, I don’t understand the rules, so how could I ever know what’s going on without even seeing the field and the players?

It is an exciting game, where both teams score well and before we know it, half time arrives. We skip Madonna, because it is quite important that we turn the fridge back on, before the evaporator (and our little “freezer”) defrosts and the whole inside is a watery mess. We can also use the power from the wind generator, so our intermission is used well.  After half an hour, we turn the SSB radio back on and the other systems back off. We get comfy in bed again and wait for the soothing voice. All of a sudden… there is total silence. The batteries died. We don’t have extra AA batteries anymore and scramble a couple from a camera and another two from a flash light. Mark realizes it is more important to follow the weather predictions on the SSB radio instead of the football game and saves the battery power to be able to sail safely to our next destinations. Therefore: game over and Super Bowl Sunday has us going to bed early and leaves us hanging about the second half of the battle and the final score…

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