When I first went to Bolivia in 1993, the internet did not exist. No such thing as email. No Facebook. No Twitter. No cyberspace at all. To stay in touch with folks back home, I had to write letters (imagine! Prehistoric). I would take my handwritten pieces to the post office and mail them off, hoping they would reach their destination. To receive mail I rented a postal box and would periodically check it, unlocking it with my tiny little key, hoping to get a letter from home.
How different things are now, in such a short period of time. Today I can remain in instant contact with my friends in Bolivia, and when there, with my family and friends at home. Many places have wireless connections, and there is an internet café on every corner. Cochabamba is fully of the technologically modern world.
Which makes the isolation of the marginal barrios so telling. No internet, of course, but not even land lines for the telephones. There are cell phones, and everyone has one, but no public utilities to link people to the rest of the city, the country, the world. To be connected, like so much else in people's lives, is an individual responsibility.