We all have working cell phones!
None of us were sure that we wanted cell phones while we were here. We spent many a night back in Atlanta joking about buying “burner cell phones” that we could burn when we were done with them, just like some kind of James Bond movie. We talked to a bunch of people. Okay, mostly frisbee people, that told us about all the options for cell phones here in Montevideo. In the end, and for the price, we decided it would be silly not to have them.
Some info about cell phones here…
Everyone has one. And most people have the expensive fancy ones. There aren’t a whole lot of IPhones wandering around because of the import taxes but there sure are some close copies. Most of the small cell phone stands and electronics stores only advertise their most expensive wares (some things don’t change regardless of where you are in the world).
A lot of people have pre-paid plans. These aren’t as common in the U.S. but it seems like it’s the way to go here. Each month you pay between 10 and 500 pesos which gets you minutes. Depending on your plan, each minute you talk can cost from 4-10 pesos. In addition to the minutes you pay for up front, you also get 1000 minutes to call three free lines. You can call 1 other cell phone for free, you can text 1 other cell phone for free, and you can call 1 land line for free. When it comes time to re-charge your phone you can just walk down the street to the Abitab (they are everywhere and can do lots more than just re-charge phones) and give them your number.
So we went out in search of cell phones last weekend, only to realize that stores are only open from 10 am to 1 pm on saturdays and it was almost 5 pm. We tried again on tuesday. We got to the store and of course it was closed for lunch, but just our luck Matt had wandered a bit in that area trying to get to a bus stop and saw another cell store.
The security guard opened the door (it seems that most stores have security guards at the doors) and we went straight to the counter and told the lady that we wanted the cheapest cell phone they had and a pre-paid plan, and oh by the way, that we didn’t speak spanish very well. That sealed the deal. She was very nice, spoke no english, and kept asking us if we understood what she was saying. We had all prepared a bit for this adventure (Asa more than Matt or I) by translating the majority of the cell companies’ website and knew most of the key words we would need for the interaction. We understood her pretty well, or at least didn’t have any major miscommunications.
So Asa and I both got the same, cheap $30US phone which we are still figuring out how to distinguish from each other. We got SIM cards to put in them which came with a 300 peso pre-paid plan. Matt had his iPhone which he jail broke and just got a new SIM card to put in it with a pre-paid plan.
So Asa and I can call each other for free, we can both text Matt for free, Matt can text me for free and call Asa for free, and we can all call the phone at The Little House for free. We’ve got a nice little free cell triangle going on!