In response to a comment, what about the realities of telecommunication down here. Thanks brother David for the prompt.
OUr friend Mark had given me a primer on cell phone access here and he was very accurate. You walk into many many stores (though it took 3 tries here) and buy a SIM card (though they call it "un chip") for $5 (remember, we use US dollars in this country). This gets you a phone number (Quito area code is 02, Otavalo is 06, all cell phones are 09. We had considered waiting to buy "un chip" until after we arrived in Otavalo so we wouuld have a local, not big-city area code, but that was irrelavent/impossible) and $3 worth of minutes. Mark had explained that before leaving the states, we should call our cell service provider (ATT/Cingular) and ask them to unlock our phone so that it would work with other service networks. I understand there is some regulatory component of this; our 2-year contract with ATT had just expired, so they were not unhappy to enable us to do this - they provide a 8 digit code to type in.
So, I bought the chip, put it in, entered my unlock code, and have a phone number. This was all new to me.
Local vs. international calling: Things are in an amazing phase of transition en este momento. The cheapest way to call home is Skype, but you have to have good bandwidth. There are many internet cafes, but the most common activities there are gaming and emailing on the web; as a result, the environment is loud music. You need a silent room to skype, and that's quite a different environment.
Now, the next cheapest way to call home is IP phone, like Vonage or VoIP. These very much exist. For 10 cents a minute, I have called Mom and housesitter etc. There is a little bit of delay, just enough that you kind of tend to stomp on one another like the old days of international calling. But the price is right. Landline intl. calling is 25 cents a minute. The two choices look very much alike - like a row of phone booths in the corner of a storefront. Like study carrels in college libraries. There is a little meter on the wall and you pay after. But the big difference is that a little store will have landline "cabinas" as they're called (and ads for cell phone service - here Porta and Movistar), while the IP phone cabinas are in the corner of places with broadband, ie internet cafes. Once you figure out that to call Mom on the phone you go to the internet cafe, it all falls into place.
Side note: our heroic struggles with email were partly the result of the fact that we like to use client software for email, ie Outlook. Most of the world seems to use web interface email (eg. gmail, hotmail) and that doesn't pose the same ISP compatibility issues.
I would guess there are 10 internet cafes in this town, and they are frankly only for the young poor folks who don't enjoy WiFi in the hotel. I am sitting on my hotel bed typing this. Only about 120 kbps download speed compared to about 1200 in my home in Hood River, not really enough to watch youtube, for example, or to video skype, but plenty for blogging and email.
At the cafe it costs $1 per hour of computer time, and in general you can't bring in your laptop. Not much WiFi, mostly sitting at a row of their computers with the young local gamers and the gritty backpackers.
That's the scene down here. Hugs. P
- Soccer tourney
- Some general musings
- Dollars and retirees
- Ecuadorian triathlon
- Job Offer
- Feeding kids overseas
- Moved !!
- Food reprise
- First biking aka Otavalo Roubaix
- Urban development
- The Mayor
- Comments layout change
- Anglo on Market Day
- Kid interview, KD's lists
- Clothing (and thanks, commenters)
- Indigenas and Exercise
- Some photos
- First week in Otavalo
- Arrived in Otavalo
- Pile o' baggage
- Last days in Quito
- Going To Ecuador!!!!!
- Going To Ecuador!!!!!
- ▼ January (32)