Before I tell you more about the bicycle tour, I thought I’d fill you in on some things I’ve learned about Skype this year:
1. Some countries block Skype and other voice over internet protocols (VOIP). If you do an internet search for “countries that block Skype” or similar, you’ll see lists of countries or telephone/internet companies that block VOIP. If you are forced to use the telephone at $3 USD per minute, that’s a tidy income for someone. (Calling computer-to-computer with VOIP and using them like telephones is free.)
When I was in Belize, I was not able to access Skype, but my Latin American friends could. In the hotel lobby, other people from the U.S.A. were not able to access VOIP services. Obviously, internet provider numbers from the United States were blocked. (Don’t know about Canada – if it was only U.S.A. or all North American numbers.)
There are a couple of work arounds for this issue. One way is to simply borrow a computer from one of your non-U.S.A. friends. A second way is if you’re traveling with primarily U.S.A. people,
then there are services that can “hide” your internet provider address and replace it with another one, appearing to originate in a different country. I used the first option and have not tried the
second option. Anyone out there tried a IP masking service?
2. On the bike tour, we stayed at a place that had zero cell phone coverage - but it did have internet access. My bike buddies didn’t have internet, but had cell coverage lower on the mountain.
I just used Skype to call their cell phones. (There is a small charge for this.)
Skype can be a very handy tool.