Friday, March 30, 2012

The Tale of the Telephone

Lat week I finally got around to buying a cell phone.  I haven't really needed one until now so it wasn't high on my priority list.  Then, in two days, I needed one twice.  OK, I'll get one.

I was told to just go to any store that had a "Claro" sign and I could pruchase my phone and the minutes to put on it.  The day after I realized it would have been very nice to have one I passed a store with the Claro sign and went in.  It appeared to be just another tienda (little store) with fruits and vegetables, and an odd mix of assorted other little sundries.  I didn't see a phone display, either, but I asked if she had phones for sale.  She didn't speak more than a few words in English and I may be learning but it's not quite enough to manage a conversation.  Nonetheless, I managed to get my needs across to her.

From under the counter she pulls out what appears to be a new phone and from her purse she brings out one that has definitely had some use.  The new one was $80 and the used one was $20.  If you know me at all, you know which one I chose.  We covered the fact that it didn't have a charger but that I could get one from one of the electronics shops for $3.50.  I pulled out my money and handed her two $10 bills.

When I got home and emptied out my pockets I realized I had given her two $20s not $10s.  Crap!  I'd just spent $40 on a $20 phone.  I walked back up there and the store was closed.  I took that as a not great sign.  It's important to remember that stores frequently open and close based on a schedule that defies explanation.  None of the stores I've seen have hours posted and there's a very good reason for that. They're open when they want to be.

The following day I was outside with my landlord and I told him about it.  His response was, "Not to worry.  This is Ecuador.  She will give you your money."  That still sounded a bit like Pollyanna but the following day I went back and she was open.  She was just as charming as the day before when I had purchesed the phone (why shouldn't she be--she made an extra $20 the day before).

Through my limited Spanish and a fair amount of charades, I got it across that I have her two $20s instead of two $10s.  She smiled and nodded her head and went to her little cash box and handed me a $20 bill.

OK, I'm now officially living in the South American version of Mayberry--and I like it.

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