Friday, August 27, 2010

what it is - cellphones in the Guate

We went to Antigua today to buy phones – what a mess of PC volunteers it was! There were like 8 of us pestering this clerk in the corner of the grocery store, clarifying and re-clarifying a phone system that’s still trickier with halting Spanish. A basic outline:

- The phone cost 200 Quetzals (20$), but it doesn’t come with minutes, so you have to buy a “recharge” card that puts minutes on your phone (I got one for 50 Qs)
- HOWEVER, since I was buying a new phone, a promotion got me 100 free Quetzals in addition to whatever my recharge card cost of 50 Qs. So I’m sitting pretty with 150 Qs of phone call time (1 minute call to the States= like 2.5 Qs?)
- My purchased minutes are gonna expire in two weeks, according to the following setup:
o 10 Q card expires in 3 days (!!)
o 25 quetzals – 7 days,
o 50 in 15 days, 100 in 30 days, blah blah
- so that’s weird HOWEVER
o I can still get calls even if my Qs run out and it won’t cost me anything(just the person calling)
o Phone calls from the US to my phone are like a dollar a minute.

So that has to be confusing enough for a layman, right? Ok, so listen to this:

Buying these recharge minutes is better on some days than others! Sometimes stores will advertise promociones where you buy a recharge card at any little tienda and you’ll get TRIPLE the Qs you spend (i.e. 75 Qs on yer phone in exchange for the 25 Qs you paid)…… HOWEVER if you make calls THE DAY YOU BOUGHT THE CARD it’ll cost you triple minutes (very tricky)

Here are some other things that are curious:

- apparentlyI can’t get phone calls from the States for three weeks because my company’s bandwith is ancient (?!?!) and it’ll take that long for U.S. companies to recognize the signal (don’t even ask)
- I might be getting gouged on phone calls home, since Alaska is occasionally considered an “exception” to the United States. Crazy yes but it has happened to me before.

This is all very exciting and yes I am now connected, but whatevs. Supposedly I’ll be doing a lot of texting because it’s the PC way, cheaper/more affordable for our pretty modest living allowance.

In other news, Antigua is shockingly full of tourists and I think that’s kind of boring but I know I’ll be wanting a plate of nachos in about 6 weeks so I’ll be back for sure.

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