Pokemon Go had only been introduced in Peru a few days ago. But it had already transformed public life. Selva Alegre Park in Arequipa suddenly saw more teenagers, but they didn’t see anything of the park. Outside of Santa Catalina Monastery hundreds of people stood lined up against the wall, staring at their phones with no interest for the historical convent on which they were leaning. I thought these Pokemoners would go home again, but the next day there were so many that the police had to regulate the traffic and mobile food vendors had set up their carts to feed the addicts. You couldn’t ride on a bus anymore without seeing red and yellow monsters on the phones next to you.
Probably these Pokegods are so popular in Peru because they are modeled on Inca gods. Pikachu and Pachamama. Aerodactyl and Apocatequil. Croconaw and Coniraya.
Maybe I should have expected that a girl who plays Tinder also plays Pokemon Go. Still, I was slightly taken aback when the otherwise rather mature girl pulled out her phone to check for Pokemonsters as soon as we entered Brujas Bar. “Isn’t this something for children?” I asked, trying to get her to stop and, more importantly, to focus on me. She quizzed me with a bewildered look. Putting on the most serious face I could, I expressed frustration about being ignored on a first date. With visible consternation, she put her phone away, but kept glancing at it every minute.
She didn’t wear her glasses that day, claiming cockily that they made her look too sexy and making the somewhat worn-out joke that she didn’t yet know if I was a serial killer.
Each time it beeped and feeped and vibrated, she hastened to reach for it, as if happy about not having to listen to me anymore. Or maybe it made her feel more important. Really important people (like me) of course don’t have time to answer their phones at all. The fact that I stopped talking and eating each time the busy lady replied to a WhatsApp message or downloaded a spreadsheet was interpreted by her as my failure to multi-task, it seemed, not as the silent protest it was meant to be.
“Dating websites shouldn’t ask whether you smoke or drink, but if you are addicted to phones,” I suggested dryly. But she smiled a smile that melted my anger. Until two minutes later, when her phone rang. “My best friend,” she said, as if that would explain why she was impolite enough to answer. Good that I had ordered a salad which wouldn’t get cold.
A few minutes later the same procedure. “My other best friend,” devaluing the concept of friendship, I thought. I was close to taking out my notebook to start writing this story, but she might have interpreted it as permission to continue her phone conversation until late at night.
“I prefer not to,” I replied after she had hung up and asked me to continue the story I had been telling. “With that many interruptions, I won’t be able to finish it today. You will have to wait for the book.” “Oh, come on,” she replied, with a sheepish attempt at a seductive look. “Or,” I suggested, “the next time, let’s meet some place without a phone signal. Maybe we have to drive to the desert. Or get on a boat to the Solomon Islands.”
After the weekend, she sent a message: “Andreas, I have been thinking about your proposal. Let’s go for a trip to Atacama Desert.” Maybe she had already caught all Pokethingies in Peru. Or run out of best friends.
When she picked me up, she was wearing her glasses. It didn’t turn me into a serial killer. But then, every serial killer has to start small.
Three days later, she is still considered missing.
After just returning from the Solomon Islands, I will tell you that you might have to worry about cell phone distractions there too. Although not widely available, I was quite surprised to see a young man canoe out (in his handmade wooden canoe) to our liveaboard boat, so as to ask the crew if he could charge his cell phone over night. I was quite surprised too to see some of the crew on their cell phones during the evenings. So it’s a good thing you’re in the desert otherwise your conversations still might be interrupted. I must say; however, that the villagers in the Solomon Islands are such interesting and kind people. The children are also absolutely stunning. It’s definitely a place one should visit. If not for the people, then for the scuba diving or the history.
I was mainly hoping for silence on the long way to the islands.
But now you got me very interested!
You must go visit! And with that, I mean the several different islands not just Honiaria, which in itself is quite the experience. The culture there is extremely interesting.
I was fortunate to witness the “markets” (i.e. the young children and women canoeing out to our boat to sell us fresh veggies and fruits that they had grown from the seeds the Bililiki -our boat – had once provided them, therefore helping the villagers create a means of income).
They are a kind and appreciative group of people. Very poor but never greedy (except for the one chief’s wife) and always sharing amongst themselves.
Some of the Solomon people also possess a native gene, different from Europeans, that causes naturally blonde hair. Therefore, creating quite a contrast to their dark skin and very beautiful children.
The welcoming smiles can become somewhat shy though due to the fact that they are often quite red (as though they have just finished sucking blood like a vampire). The bright red smile is the result of many of the people chewing on betel nut, mixed with ground up burned coral and a specific type of fruit. It creates a natural high like nicotine does for smokers and helps stave off the feeling of hunger and provides more energy.
As for the silence during the journey to the Solomons – coming from NYC you would have about 24 hours for that. It’s a long trip, but well worth it.
And being a history buff, you would appreciate all of the World War II battles that took place there. (I was able to do a couple dives where I saw a Japanese frighter and plane from the war.) You’re able to also do a WW II tour, interestingly enough from either a Japanese or American perspective.
If you ever want to go visit – let me know and I can get you in contact with a woman who has lived there for 15 years and who is quite familiar with the culture.
Thank you very much!
My biggest hurdle is probably finding a cheap boat/flight.
In the world that I live ( being sarcastic) interrupt a date to check the phone all the time is super rude.
So if a guy do this to me, the second time I say:
Bye, have fun with your phone! Haha
* I don’t have patience, really : )
I should also that.
And only date older women who still lived before the internet and know that it’s absolutely OK if people cannot reach/disturb you all the time.
Well written blog and so relevant.
Thank you very much!
I hope indeed that some people will reflect on their cell phone use while in the company of others. But I fear this story will only result in me not getting any more dates.