By the time my husband signed his contract, accepting a new position in Guaymas, Mexico, we had about two and a half months to organize and move. For me, this included finishing up the school year and packing a classroom; in addition to finding a new house, selling an old house, deciding which of our belongings to sell or store, selling and storing those items, visiting the Mexican Consulate in Indianapolis, finding Mexican car insurance, packing, and saying goodbye to family and friends. I know there was more, but I’m exhausted just typing this.
The very last thing on my mind was checking out cell phone plans. To be honest, the only reason I had a cell phone in the first place was to communicate more easily with my son, as his days and nights became busier beginning in junior high school. Well, that and to look things up on road trips. (All those brown signs with someone’s names on them? Yes, I am the one person who actually used my data to learn about who they were.) After 10 years I still need to look at the keyboard to type, and I text with one thumb. So calling Verizon to find out if I would have phone service in Mexico and how much it would cost were not priorities. I turned off my cellular data as soon as we crossed in Nogales and drove off blissfully into a world with no Google Maps, Trip Advisor, or AAA. This also meant I could not call my husband, who was in the lead car, to tell him he was going the wrong way again.
After about a month, I came to the conclusion that I would probably benefit from a phone that I could use outside of the house- -just in case I had car problems, or got lost, or needed to look up a word on my Spanish Dict App. Rather than investigate my Verizon options, I decided to buy a “burner”. 1) I was watching too much Narcos on Netflix. 2) I loved using the word burner.
I became easily confused with the options available in the United States, so I have no idea what convinced me I could handle a phone purchase in Spanish. Off I went anyway to the nearest Telcel store. They had a “Plan Amigo”, two words I could understand at the time. I was in and out in about 15 minutes, feeling rather pleased with myself. That lasted until I charged the phone and got dinged with multiple texts from Telcel, presumably welcoming me to the Plan Amigo, but I don’t really know because they were all in Spanish.
I started carrying my phone with me whenever I left the house. I used it to check Facebook while I was getting my hair done. I used it to take pictures of the octopus for sale in the seafood department at Walmart. I used it a couple of times to text my husband at work, just because I could. I used Whatsapp to message my son, my mom, and my aunt. (They rarely checked WhatsApp or didn’t recognize the number.) It did come in handy during Hurricane Newton when we were without power for three days, she says sarcastically. (See above about not checking WhatsApp.)
And like presents kids receive at Christmas, after the novelty wore off, I more often than not forgot all about my burner when I left the house. I took a book to the hairdresser instead. I enjoyed looking at new discoveries through my own eyes, rather than through the lens of a camera. My husband is pretty busy at work; he can text me if he needs something, right? (He might have to wait a long time before I answer.) If I have car trouble or get lost? Well, the only local number in my burner phone contacts is Captain Steve; captain of a boat, not of the Policía Municipal. I am sure I can figure it out. It is not like the great explorers before me had cell phones either. (We are going to ignore the fact that some were forever lost at sea, eaten by cannibals, or never made it out of the jungle.)
I did take it with me on a recent trip North. My phone stopped working while I was taking a picture of a roadside restroom that charged five pesos for toilet paper. Lesson learned. Leaving the house with a roll of toilet paper is much more important than leaving the house with a cell phone.