Monday, September 7, 2009


We finally have phones, at least two out of three are working. I am astonished that I have been perfectly functional without a phone. I carry my iphone everywhere, and am delighted to find wireless in some coffee shops where I can check my email, but it does not work as a phone, so I am entirely inaccessible during the day. I use skype when at the house, and it works for computer to computer, as well as computer to telephone, which is absolutely wonderful!

Not having a phone, having nonfunctional phones, having our phones stolen, buying a new phone that would not recognize its SIMcard and was broken anyway, finally having our nonworking phones connected after several weeks; I am not sure what this story means, but clearly there is significance to not being connected day after day. Most Ecuadorians I know have more than one phone. There are two companies, Movistar which works better in the city, and Porta, which is better everywhere else. We chose to have two Portas (the ones that were stolen and then replaced and nonfunctional until today) and one Movistar which will be Maya's (we bought it Saturday from a booth in the mall and it was to start working in two hours and never actually did, and in time we discovered that it was not chargeable either). It turns out that we cannot just go to the place where we purchased the Movistar to replace it. Eric and Maya went to several Movistar offices today, only to learn that they must visit one location to get the Simcard to work and another office to replace the nonworking phone. This was not clear initially, and required much effort and persistence and legwork to find what may or may not be the correct answers.

The Porta phones are working today. Maya was thrilled and listened to all the ring tones over and over again, and later discovered that she could record events as they occurred, and enjoyed listening to her voice being recorded.

The computer saga continues. We had been to a computer store to buy a hard drive for Eric's older computer (that had not been stolen) and were unable to purchase it with a foreign credit card. Erika came with us the next day to buy the drive with her credit card, but then Eric was unable to install it, so we found our way to Apptek today (the Apple store could not do it and referred us there), and left the computer at the shop for installation. Eric used a big duffelbag, one of the ones we used to travel with, to obscure the fact that he was carrying a computer (although it is not worth much, he has learned not to walk about with a computer bag; on Saturday he walked around with a Megamaxi bag to hide his computer in). The new computer is up and running (Erika had used her credit card to purchase that one too), although Johns Hopkins, which owned the stolen computer and has the insurance policy on it, had a $1000 deductible, the new computer is very basic but serviceable, not anything like the stolen item. My sister pointed out that the average yearly income here in Ecuador is $3000, less than the value of items stolen from Eric last week, which puts things in perspective perhaps.

Maya covers her ears when there is any mention of the robbery. We must move on and stop dwelling on it. My friend Emily reminds me that we have been coming to Ecuador for years, with 30 or so students, and fortunately nothing untoward has ever happened. We have simply had a bout of very bad luck. I find myself hesitant to leave the neighbourhood I have become accustomed to. I walked by the park where Erika takes her dog, and recognized that I would miss passing it several times daily on my way to and from swimming and ballet and the Ecovia/Trole. I feel comfortable with the people that I see daily, and I feel at home next to the fertility clinic, and I will definitely miss this place.

It was Eric's birthday today. We met at the Mariscal and tried to have pizza at 'Al Forno', which had been recommended (it has nice thin pizza crust, more like genuine Italian pizza), but the restaurant was closed. We noticed that many places were closed, and chose to eat at a cafe/bar in a huge plaza in the middle of the Mariscal. There were few people about, mostly tourists in the nearby restaurants, but it was a particularly quiet day. Eric told me that the duena of the Cordero and Tamayo apartment emailed him to tell him that the apartment that we wanted so desperately was now available. Presumably the deal that she had hoped for had fallen through. I had expected to hear from her last week, had held off on making a decision about an apartment, hoping for a 'reversal of fortune'. Unfortunately, we have moved too far forward on the place in Republica Del Salvador, so it is not possible to backtrack. And so much has happened in our lives since the day we 'lost' the apartment. I do not think that Eric thought much about her email. I found myself so disappointed again, more than made sense.

We celebrated Eric's birthday with the Carreras. Isabel had bought a cake at 'Cyrano's', and the whole family participated. It was a surprise, with a candle and a birthday song. I was expecting the Ecuadorian tradition of plunging the face of the birthday victim into the cake, but Isabel told me that the cake was too tasty to be ruined, and so the family did not subscribe to the practice. Eric and I do it to anyone who has a birthday on the student trip, and make sure to buy two cakes at a time, one to destroy and one to eat.

School was to start today, and Maya woke up early in anticipation, but the government decided that the school start days would be staggered, so that the roads would not be as overwhelmed with traffic. Preschoolers started today, elementary tomorrow, and high school on Wednesday. Parents bring their child to school the first day, and then the buses bring the children home. The city workers will not start work until after 9:30, to ensure that the roads and the buses are less crowded. Maya is anxious and irritable. Tomorrow is a big day for her.

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