Friday, January 11, 2008

January 11, 2008 - We Got Phones!

I feel like I am obsessing over *phones*! Which seems so ridiculous to me - I’m not a talkaholic, and I often let the answering machine pick up instead of answering. But!!! When you don’t *have* one - yikes! These are useful tools to have around!

What it is like with no phone:
1 It is difficult to arrange visits with anyone - using email means you have to really plan ahead, and if something comes up, you can’t communicate.
2 You have to walk a block or two to call anyone - either a public phone in the park (you need coins or phone card, and a finger in your ear) or you pester a friend.
3 You can't get food delivered, even when you are sick...
4 Almost any form you fill out requires a telephone number (again, pester a friend…)
5 If you split up, you start to panic - what if he’s hurt? He can’t call for help! Oh, whew! There he is…
6 No one can call you just to chat - it gets a little lonely sometimes.
7 And you worry a bit about family not being able to contact you if an emergency comes up.

On the other hand, perfect strangers understand your dilemma - I have been offered the use of phones in bars, restaurants, wherever - and no one seems to think twice about it.

So I guess if you can get over the anal “what if” stuff, and can get over the idea that you are imposing on people for using their phone once in a while, then a few months without a phone of your own won’t kill you.

But I do feel sooo much better now…

Our experience:
We decided to wait for our residency before getting a phone. There are ways to get one without a residency (use a corporation, use a friend, buy a line - somewhat black market, rent a line), but it was a bit low on our priority list, and there was a chance we would rent an apartment with a line included (this didn’t happen for us, but it does for many). On our Orosí trip, we asked around a bit (not officially), and found that there were no lines available, *and* ICE was not even taking names for a waiting list. :( So we put it off until this trip.

Once we got settled in Alajuela (the apartment does not have a telephone included), we
1 November 30 - went to the ICE office, and got on the waiting list for cell phone lines/numbers. The process for this was *easy* - We showed our cedulas, gave a phone number where we could be reached (a friend’s), they entered information, and gave us a reference number and info on what we will need when we pick *up* the phone (line/number).
2 December and early January - watched the newspapers for our reference numbers to show up, and waited to hear from ICE
3 January 6 - saw *our* reference number in the paper!! It says we are scheduled to get our lines on Friday!
4 January 10 - check out cell phones, buy the cheapest GSM phone at Monge for c37,000 ($74). Get 1 copy of my cedula, a copy of our electric bill, 1 copy of Rick’s cedula (beneficiary), two copies of the receipt from buying the phone.
5 January 11 - Take the copies and originals, plus the phone and c12,500 to ICE, and get connected!

ICE wasn’t too bad at all. Here was our timeline:
10:45 – 11:00: get in line #1 (standing), show our reservation numbers, get our documents checked and get our place in line (a number)
11:00 – 11:50: sit in line #2 :) and wait for our number to be displayed – ours is 50 more than the one up when we got there
11:50 – 12:05: our number is displayed, so we go to the cube indicated, show our reservation numbers, get our request processed, and get our chips put in our phones.
12:05 – 12:20: Rick goes to the caja line (standing) to pay our deposits, while I wait at the cube; the ICE person fiddles with the phones.

Now, *my* phone is done! Yay!!!! But (there is always a “but”)… Rick’s phone was one we brought from the states, and it didn’t work. So, we head back to buy another cell phone :(. We also got lunch…

2:15 – 2:25: back at ICE, to line #1. Rick explains what happened, and they nice fellow at the desk nodded and gave us a number for the *fast* line! And it was!
2:27: our number came up!
2:28: we got Rick’s phone switched, and we’re out the door! Once outside, we sat down and Rick changed the SIM chip to the new phone. YAY!

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