Getting a cell phone in Merida

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We waited a long time to get a cell phone. I think we thought it would be much harder than it was so we waited until we really needed one and then rushed around trying to get it activated in time to make the phone call we needed to make at a specific time.

How we bought our cell phone in Merida: we got in a taxi at GranPlaza mall and asked the driver to take us to the nearest OXXO. Of course he looked at us like we were crazy, but he drove us the 8 blocks to the nearest OXXO where we asked him to wait for us. I ran in to buy the cheapest phone they had and this proved to be difficult. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted but because the teller was less than brilliant. Even though I was pointing at the phone to buy in the cabinet he couldn’t understand that I wanted to buy it. A nice girl who was enjoying a snack at one of the tables spoke some English so she tried to help me, the taxi driver was also helping at this time but the guy didn’t get it. Finally the teller got me the phone and I paid the 299 pesos ($23.57 CDN) which included 300 minutes. The reason we bought the phone here was because it will be easy to add minutes to in the future and we did not have to commit to a ‘plan’ or purchase an expensive phone.

Ok, so we were ready to make the phone call and were 30 minutes ahead of schedule! We dialed the number…and a lovely voice in Spanish started talking to us telling us the number could not be dialed. Then we understood that we needed to activate the phone in Spanish and tried to do that. After enlisting a security guard’s help at one of the stores in LiverPool mall she could not activate the phone either. We did find a telcel booth who tried to activate the phone but by now we had definitely exceeded the number of times you can try to activate your phone so they directed us to GranPlaza mall where they have a main TelCel office where people can pay their bills and such.

The greeting person here was able to activate our phone, but we needed our passports to do it. I was lucky and had been carrying mine that day as I was going to take my drivers test. So he registered the phone in my name and it was ready to use!

We have actually used the phone a couple of times now, and have received some phone calls from friends here. We certainly do not use it as much as we did in Canada, but it does come in handy at times.

Note: do not wait til the last minute to buy a cell phone and have somebody with you who speaks Spanish to activate your phone instantly instead of having to go to the main TelCel office.

 

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