Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Grand Falls, NL – Before we left on our trip, we invested in a MagicJack phone with voice over internet protocol (VOIP). We took it along with us because we knew our cellphone service wouldn’t work in Newfoundland. With this new tool, we’d be able to make free calls whenever we had Wifi – a service which is fairly widespread.

It has worked by and large up to now, although sometimes a crackly reception impedes meaningful conversation. That was the case this morning, when we tried to reserve a campsite for our next destination. I dialed several times, but could not hear all the digits of the toll-free reservation number (a number not recorded in the campground blurb). It crackled out every time.
No problem, we reasoned; there was a pay phone at the comfort station we could use. So, with a handful of quarters and loonies, we headed over to try it. The melodious voice at the other end of the telephone, activated by inserting the first quarter, instructed us to insert an additional $4.25 for one minute of service.  We had enough change for that expensive minute, but not if the conversation went beyond that, which was highly likely.

No problem, we reasoned; we had to get a few supplies anyway, so we’d go to the shopping mall and ask for our change in loonies and quarters. Then we’d find a payphone there. Maybe it would be cheaper. With jingling pockets, we located a payphone. The phone display said PHONE CARD ONLY.
No problem, we reasoned; the Wal-Mart store had pay phone cards we could buy and then we would run no risk of running out of coins. With a new phone card in hand (having read the TINY instructions on the back and determining that this card worked in Canada), we returned to the pay phone. After inserting the card, a melodious voice told us to remove the card and try again. Then it said to remove the card and try again with another card. After several attempts, the display then said THIS CARD IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

We wanted to stop at the bank at another part of the mall, and when we got there we saw some more payphones which accepted change. At last! In went our quarter, and our $4.25 for one minute of service, so I could hear ALL the digits of the campground reservation number. That number, mercifully, was toll-free, so we were finally able to make our call and secure a site – no water or electricity, but a site nevertheless.
This simple transaction had eaten up our entire morning. Ain’t technology grand?

Our afternoon activity was more rewarding; we went to the Mary March Provincial Museum in town, where 5,000 years of Newfoundland history were laid out in text, pictures and artifact displays, covering native tribes, Vikings, French and British occupations and more recent history about fishing and logging. The museum was dedicated to one of the last of the Beothuks, a woman who died of tuberculosis one year after being captured by the British. They named her Mary March, but her Beothuk name was Demasduit.
The other rewarding part of the day was the weather – truly summery, with a high of 27 degrees! It was lovely to sit outside with our evening cup of tea, and enjoy the sound of laughing children and chirping birds. It was the perfect antidote to our earlier frustrations.

[Note to faithful readers: we may not have internet reception for the next three days. As soon as we can get online again, we’ll catch you up on our doings.]

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