Ah, my dear faithful readers--the computer saga continues. This might be a good time to tell you about general electronic issues in Ecuador.
Starting with my laptop, a Dell Latitude D820, approximately five years old, is considered ancient when in need of spare parts. This isn't unusual. I read somewhere about someone who forgot their power cord in the States when they came here and ended up sending off for a new one back where they came here from. It was a costly enterprise when you consider the cost of shipping and, more importantly, it was a lengthy process. Their advice, which I heartily second, is to start with equipment that is on the new side, be sure you have everything you need for it, then get spares of things that fail with more regularity than others. I would add that it would be a good idea to have a genuinely excellent electronics technician go over all your electronics and advise on which might be best either replaced or at least have a backup on hand if it is needed.
Also, think about what kinds of electronics you might want to purchase after you arrive and think about whether or not it might be to your advantage to purchase them in advance. This applies to more
than just traditional electronics such as computers and such. It also applies to anything electrical and their peripherals. More on that in a minute.
Let's finish up with the computer-type electronics. The other consideration is cost. Electronics and parts (when they're available) costs at least 40% more here. I purchased a little 4 GB memory stick to use when I'm at the Internet cafes and for somewhere around $16. It seems to me I remember seeing them for quite a bit less in the States. So, you see, even the little things are important.
I've addressed this before but it's worth another mention. If you're a reader, even occasionally, remember that you aren't going to be able to find many (if any) English language books you actually want. To have a book shipped for the States costs between $10 and $20 (or more) depending on how heavy it is and how it's packaged. If you're OK with that, you're in good shape. If not, you definitely want either a Kindle (or similar device) or a small computer tablet, like an iPad. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and a little thinking about what you want from it and your budget will probably solve that decision for you. The main differences are cost and size. The Kindle is both smaller and less expensive and the iPad is, obviously, the opposite. Amazon has a Kindle app that can be installed on your computer so getting books is no problem. The Kindle Fire is small enough to put in most purses, is in color, and has access to the internet. I can't imagine being without my Kindle.
Cell phones: check with your provider to see if the cell phone you currently own is locked or unlocked for international use. I wish I knew more about what that means but the important things to know are that it must be unlocked and that your cell phone provider will be able to tell you if your phone is or isn't. There are the same two ways to get minutes for your cell phone as in the States and, I would guess, most other places--buy minutes as you go or have a plan. Since I rarely use my phone here, I buy minutes. The price varies and they also have 2 for 1 sales and I even heard of a 3 for 1 sale some time before I got here. I just learned Saturday that in order to get a cell phone plan, you need to have had a bank account for six months.
Land Lines: Very few people have land lines here so I'm not overly familiar with those. I've heard that you need to get on the waiting list if there are no new numbers available and you get a line when one becomes available. The person I know here who has one didn't have that problem but it might be worth checking out if you really want one. Some of the forums will undoubtedly have people who have gone through that in various parts of Ecuador who would be happy to help you.
Magic Jack: I just discovered these when I was doing my pet sitting gig this past three weeks. You would be well advised to go to their website and magicjackhelp.com if you are thinking about getting one. They work great but prior research is a good idea. The cost of buying one down here seems to be about $100 and I don't know if that includes a free year of service.
Now, on to less gadget-y things. These are the things I took for granted in the States: a toaster, sewing machine, mixer, and other such things. You can get them here but trust me when I tell you the quality is definitely not the same and, if it is, it's very expensive to purchase them. My personal examples: I bought what I thought was a great thing--a toaster oven for $30. I didn't expect it to be top-of-the-line for that price but what I discovered is that the it doesn't have a heat selector, and it burns the outside of the bread before the inside is nicely warmed. I decided to take it back and purchase the toaster I saw at a store down the street. They don't do returns here. Once you buy it, it's yours. I did a bit of fast talking and managed to get them to let me purchase $30 of other products that day and they took it back but from the looks of the clerks who witnessed the manager doing this, it might have been a first.
Once I had that taken care of I went down the street and purchased the toaster for $23 (if memory serves, I could get one on sale for $10 in the States). It didn't do much better on the toasting operation and, after using it 5 times, it refused to push the toast down and start the toasting process. There is still no return possible. They took it to repair and told me to come back in a week. Then they said another week, then they said two more weeks. I still don't have it back.
I'm not angry because this is Ecuador, not the United States. One of the reasons I love living here is the culture and this is part of it--not the part I love but part of it nonetheless. I may have an opportunity to have some things shipped down here along with someone else's things and, thankfully, I hadn't gotten rid of everything when I came down here. We weren't sure I'd want to stay. So, I still have my Kitchenaid Mixer with grinder attachment, pressure cooker, sewing machine, toaster, etc., and even though I probably won't get them for a year (long story) I'll have them at some point and that makes me happy!
As for my current computer issue, it looks like another two weeks. Yep, I know you've heard that before but it's how it's looking right now. I'll stop being so whiny and write more often in the meantime, just sans photos. I keep waiting to write, thinking I'll have my computer up and running in no time and, well, that just isn't happening, is it? So, I'll see what I have to tell you about that doesn't include photos and go from there. I won't be posting one a day as I was before but I'll have some done for you.
I miss all of you very much. I look forward to having more posts with photos very soon.