Spend your life in America, and you come to expect clean water, good roads, reliable electricity, and good phone service. Spend a couple of weeks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and you come to expect polluted water, dirt roads, power failures — and good phone service.
My wife hails from Kinshasa, one of the largest cities in Africa, and most of her family still lives there. Of course we had to visit. But I worried about losing contact with the outside world. No need.
In a New York-sized city of desperately poor people, nearly everybody had some kind of cellphone, and the networks perform about as well as in the United States.
I found plenty of options for keeping plugged in, including a few that could come in useful here at home. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
Hiawatha Bray can be reached at email@example.com.