My first full day in Bogotá, I went straight to work. I’ve done the tourist route, and I can do it again in the future. But for now, it’s not necessary.
First thing I wanted to do was get a cell phone. Before I left, I seriously was considering packing my iPhone. In the end, I decided to leave it back in the states for fear of it being lost or stolen. Looking back, it would have been smart to take one of my old phones. That way, I wouldn’t have had to buy one and I could have just picked up a sim card.
I headed out to one of the main avenues and starting looking through all the electronic shops. I finally found a small cell phone stand that would be able to service my needs perfectly. I went with the cheapest cell phone possible, mostly in part, I could care less about any of the gimmicks. The phone + a sim card set me back about $30, which I found quite reasonable. The girl at the counter explained some of the things I needed to know, but I seriously could barely understand a single word she said. I just nodded and continuously said “si.” The whole time I was thinking, how hard could this be? It’s just a cell phone.
Actually, it was close to impossible to decipher. I thought I’d be able to make calls instantly, but for some reason, I kept getting an error message. I seriously thought it was just the number I was calling, until I inquired with an English speaker. Turns out, I didn’t put any credit on the phone. Hmmm… I guess that would help.
The cell phone system in Colombia is quite complex. Over the past few days, I have figured out a couple things, but am still extremely confused. Once you have a phone, you decide what provider you want to go with. In the States, you get the phone from the provider, but here, you buy the phone, then buy a sim card on the network you want to be in. This doesn’t sound like it’s that important, but it is. Turns out, if you call someone not on your network, it costs more. Because of this, the corners in Bogota are full of vendors selling the use of their cell phone. Supposedly, it’s cheaper to use those, yet that has yet to be determined.
Now, I can pull out my list and check off “obtain a cell phone.”