It rang once, rang twice and a third time… first a weird tone, the second time a weird noise followed by a voice-mail message, the third time a strange sound. Tired after trying for an hour, I decided to leave a message on my father’s cell phone in Honduras in the hope that some day he would get it and answer.

During the weekend I tried to contact my father again on his cell phone. My dad has been trying to get a fixed telephone line since he moved more than 20 years ago to a small town 22 miles (35 kilometres) south of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, in Central America. But unsurprisingly the task has proved hopeless.

Retired, with all of his four children living in the U.S., he decided to buy a cell phone in the belief that it was going to bridge the distance between us. Before, he needed to go to a neighbouring town to the local branch of the government-owned carrier in the country, Empresa Hondure