Thursday, December 8, 2005

Phone Troubles

The mysterious booms might be explained. A fiesta just happened for some important religious figure, and Monday is another for la Virgen de Guadalupe. The noise is frequent fireworks. Maybe now that I know what the sound is, I can ignore it when I'm trying to sleep.

Jesús is a bank customer who started chatting with me after I asked him if he knew whether the bank did exchanges from dollars to pesos. He's from Mexico City, and he is learning English. He switched to that for a little while, but he was less comfortable in English than I was in Spanish. Everybody wants to chat! I suppose that's good, even though I feel uneasy talking to strangers; my mommy told me not to (and I always do what my mommy says ;)) but I am here to practice speaking, ne?

Ah, but about my incident with the bank. I wanted to withdraw some money so I could pay the school and los García. US$600 would ne plenty. So I put in my ATM card, typed $600.00, and pressed enter. Now, I really wasn't thinking: I didn't notice that the money wasn't all monochromatic green, like dollars should be. So I went and asked Jesús de Mexico City if the bank could do the exchange. A bank teller told me I'd need my passport, which turned out to be a good thing. If I'd had it with me, I would have looked pretty dumb, standing there and realizing that I had $600 in pesos, not dollars. That's about US$60. Not quite enough to pay for tuition and housing. Oops. I'll try again later.

I've signed myself up for a tour of Monte Albán and some surrounding villages. US$25 for the bus and guides, but food and entrance fees aren't included. That's how all the tour companies are set up. Perhaps there's a substantial number of customers who only want to go to, say, 3 out of 5 of the places, so the company doesn't include the fees? No sé.

Forrest emailed me an unlock code for my phone, which I tried tonight. It worked the first try. I went to one cellphone store and asked about SIM cards for Telcel, the carrier that my phone picks up in the area. I was confused as to why the guy at the store couldn't help me — something about move estar — until I looked at their phones and their name brand: Movistar. Oops.

He was kind enough to point me in the general directoin of a Telcel store. Much confusion there with how everything was supposed to work. I don't know why in particular this guy was hard to understand, but even his daughter (maybe 12 years old?) was easier to understand than he was. Dunno. Anyhow, the SIM card cost US$30, with a US$10 credit for airtime.

I was led to believe that calling the States would cost 50 cents a minute, which would have been cheaper than the caseta de teléfonos. But either he lied to me or I misunderstood — I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, and the latter is more likely anyway — because I'm getting something less than a minute for each dollar, which is about what Cingular was going to charge me in the first place. :( I doubt he'll let me return thr SIM. On the other hand, another customer there thought that it was cheaper to call Mexico from the States than vice versa. Maybe so, but I'd need to buy more mintues to try it and I'm sorta disillusioned of the whole thing right now.

It was an expensive day: ended up spending US$93, on food, a tour, internet (of course), the SIM, cellphone minutes, and gifts. Stupid phone thing, being so disappointing. :(