Thursday, 7 July 2011

Go old school and use a phone booth.

For the last four years in Australia we hosted students from other countries.  Most of the students stayed with us for at least 6 months.  They attended a local high school and were immersed in Australian culture.  Over the years we have met some wonderful young people, many of whom we have stayed in contact with.  During the next three months we will be lucky enough to have three of our previous students visit us. 

Yesterday I took Claudia and Alex to the Feria to buy fruit and veg Valpo style.  While we were out the girls asked me to help them find a local sim card for their stay in Chile.  When we arrived we had, had no problems finding a sim for our phone so I answered confidently that we would buy one while we were out. 
As we were already near some big department stores we decided to try there first.  With my ever improving Spanish I asked a store attendant where we could buy a sim and was shown to a counter, but when I asked we were told that we could not buy only one chip but would have to buy three.  Puzzled looks ensued. The assistant then pulled out three phones and explained again this time with mime that we had to buy three sims.  We had all understood perfectly what she had said but not why they had such a strange deal. 

On to the next store.  We spied a mobile phone shop thinking it would all be easy from here on and entered, only to be told that they didn’t sell sims.  Okay first we could only buy three and now we can’t buy any.  She did however tell us where we could buy a card.  A few kilometres later with our back packs full to overflowing with apples and carrots we found the store she was talking about.  This store, like many others in Valparaíso, required us to take a ticket to be served.  As we waited, I formulated Spanish questions in my head about the price and how much it would cost to make calls.  I have to say that between the three of us we fared really well with the Spanish. 
“Five mill,” she told us. “Here is your receipt.  Now you must go upstairs join another queue and wait to pay.  Once you have paid you can come back and I will get the sim for you” 
Standing in another queue upstairs was obviously one step too many in the process because right there and then we talked each other out of needing a sim card at all.  I wonder how much money is lost this way.   

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