Inching My Way Towards Connectivity

I worked time and a half the last two days to be able to take today mostly off to get the internet installed at the new house. It’s been A Day.

I’m in one of my sleeping poorly cycles, so I made sure to put an alarm on for seven morning. Of course, it tore me from the best sleep I’ve enjoyed in ages. *sighs* An hour was just enough time to do a few non-transcription tasks that come in overnight and then finish my preparations for the day ahead of leaving at about eight. I’d already packed the truck with several boxes last night.

By the time I arrived at the house, it was about 8:40. I decided to park, then walk to Oxxo to get a bottle of water and a croissant for breakfast. That wound up being a good plan since the the maintenance guy was there and I was able to get an order from him (just a cold Coke, thanks!).

The next couple of hours were spent hauling in what I’d brought, cleaning the office and cabinets in the living room, and doing a preliminary clean in the kitchen of degreasing the stove area.

My landlady called at one point to say that she was going to stop by with the mailbox key, which I was going to ask her about, and my promised microwave. She is so on top of things!

The window for internet installation was nine to twelve, so I figured that the guys ringing the bell at 11:45 were for me. No, they were there to measure the wall fountain because my landlady wants one.

She came in shortly after them bearing this lovely gift:

This appears to be a very nice basic unit, which is all I want and would have bought for myself. No idea on its wattage, but it’s not like I do a ton of microwave cooking anyway so who cares if it’s not super powerful. I really just want it mostly for reheating things.

What I thought was a microwave cabinet isn’t really because there is a lip that blocks the door. So I thought to put in on shelving I’ll eventually buy. But my landlady told me to put it here on the counter because she had the outlet rewired especially for the microwave. So I will put it there even if it’s not my preferred location by far.


While I’m in the kitchen, here’s the sink that is giving me grief:

It just doesn’t look and feel clean, no matter how much I scrub it. I know I can get both the sink and tap replaced for under 200CAD including labour and that just feels like it would be worth it to me since I will be here for two years. Still mulling it over. The tap is going for sure, but I’ll get a second opinion on the sink.

Before leaving, my landlady made contact with her bank manager for me and very long story short, she concluded that she needs to go with me and will do so next week! I can’t believe how lovely she is! From what I understood of the conversation, she needs to be there as a witness/reference that I’m who I say I am because the manager is going to bend some rules to open an account for me. So no bank account today, but still making progress!

The maintenance man finished his day by painting my back wall. It looks so much better!

I told him I want to bring the furniture from the other terrace to this one and he advised me against doing it because this terrace isn’t as well protected in the rain, floods, and gets dirty with leaves and such. He thinks I will enjoy the other terrace a lot more. But, I told him, the other terrace is a million miles away. I’m really not as likely to use it daily as it’s not convenient to the kitchen. He conceded that I have good points and said that I really can’t know until I live here full-time what will work best for me. I was happy for his advice because that means no surprises!

My landlady’s husband emptied the maid’s room this past weekend and I couldn’t believe the difference.

Here’s one of my own UNPACKED boxes! Once I’m done with the boxes, I will advertise them on the local yard sale site and I know they will go quickly.

Opening the exterior door to the room makes such a difference (my landlady says someone will come by and clean the room!).

I can’t believe I never noticed before that the room has a skylight!

The possibility of my using this room as a den at some point is stronger and stronger, but, for now, it’ll be a storage room.

I cleaned the cabinet in the office and unpacked some stuff onto it temporarily. I decided that my printer will live on it.

After my landlady left, I called the telecom company and got a message saying there was a problem with my appointment and it was rescheduled for Friday afternoon. That was not going to work! I made my way through the phone maze to a live person, marvelling that I can do that now.

I explained to the guy who answered that my appointment for today was confirmed several times, that I made a special trip to be at the house, and that I’d lost a day of work. In stark contrast to what I would have been told by a Canadian telco, the guy was very sympathetic. He apologised and said that they had technical difficulties that put their technicians behind. He offered to call the service team in my area, explain how inconvenienced I am, and that they would make a decision as to whether or not they could squeeze me in at the end of the day. I should expect a call from someone in the next hour or two. At least, that’s what I was pretty sure he was saying since he spoke super fast. As it turned out, I understood him perfectly!

That meant I had time to go out and find some food. I checked in with the maintenance man, we had an interesting gab about where I live in Canada and the role of Catholicism in Mexican culture (not sure how we got there, but, dang, it was very enlightening). He then asked if I had any water to give him. I offered to go to the store around the corner to pick up some and asked if he needed a snack as well. No, his wife was expecting him in about an hour for lunch! I got us both a litre of water, dropped his off, then went out to a main street to find some lunch. The Chinese place I came across was good enough to go there again, but next time, I’m saying no to the fried platano, which was either banana or plantain and incredibly awful. 🙂

It was just past two when the phone rang. It was the internet company saying they’d have guys over by four and to hang tight. Yup, definitely not in Canada anymore… This reminds me of my first winter in Maz when I waited 11 days for internet only to learn that their system had hiccupped and they’d lost my order. Horrified, they sent someone out immediately to get me hooked up. You just don’t get that level of service in Canada because the telcos really don’t care about their customers. That’s what happens when there’s no competition. I don’t expect service to be perfect, but at least treat your customers with respect. Mexican telcos have done more for me in the last three years than Canadian telcos have in twenty years. I mean, what was I doing while I was waiting — using some free TelCel bandwidth they gifted me with to catch up on some personal things!

Two very cute and sweet guys showed up at 3:45! They asked me where I wanted the modem, questioned me about my workflow and where my desk was going to go, and then determined the best place for the modem. They said that the phone has to be plugged into the modem, not a standard phone jack, so the jacks I have in the kitchen are useless. That’s okay. Having the phone in the office makes sense.

They got to work promptly while I went out to get us some water.


When I came back, I found this unexpected item waiting for me:

Am I glad I didn’t go out and buy a cheap phone! They said it comes with the modem. It’s quite a nice unit! I can call the US and Canada with it, so I suspect it will get some use since talking for any length of time on an iPhone is unpleasant.

Now, I wish this story had a happy ending, and it might, but not today. It takes about an hour for the internet service to activate and I could not wait because I really had to get home to give Puppy his supper. But first, I had to stop at the bank, Costco, and gas station, so I was going to be late as it was. Hopefully, I’ll have service when I come back, which will probably be this weekend if I can get away. One of the tech guys gave me his direct number in case I have any issues.

Nearly Spanished out for the day and starting to get a major headache, I headed out into quite a downpour that I thought was going to abate, but which got worse and worse the closer I got to Galerias. I ended up having to practically swim from my truck to the entrance and was soaked by the time I’d made my withdrawal and returned to my truck. Costco wasn’t happening! 🙁 So I really need to go back this weekend if at all possible as I’m almost out of (almond) milk.

At any rate, I pointed the truck north, got gas, and then decided that I was treating myself to a burger for dinner because I was not going to be in the mood to cook, especially since I thought I was having Costco pizza for dinner! So I pulled into the Carl’s Jr. on the highway to Progreso to get a cheeseburger combo to go. I have to say that’s quite a nice chain as far as fast food burgers go. I really don’t want to get into the habit of having a $100 meal on a regular basis, but this was a good call tonight, especially since 6PM is not a good time to be looking for food anyway.

I got in at about 6:15 and was greeted by a dog who was very happy to see me. Since he hadn’t had any treats all day, I quickly scrambled him an egg to go with his kibble and my lateness was forgiven. 🙂

If I go back to the house this weekend, my goal will be to find some inexpensive metal shelving units for my kitchen so I can start setting up that room. I was surprised by how cheap generously sized used units are and I hope I can find some in a colour I like, although I’m open to spray painting some if I need to. I was disappointed to have missed out on some turquoise ones that would have looked incredible! 🙁

It was a good day at the house. It’s starting to feel more like my space even if there is tons of work to be done to get it feeling homey. I was surprised by how much I brought today — my books, odd computer bits that I don’t need, and DVDs — and realised that the biggest job is ahead of me — repacking all my kitchen things! I really don’t want to pack it up too much until the last minute, but there are plenty of things I can bring down, like extra cups and mixing bowls, plus some small appliances and a few of my cast iron pieces. I think that once I get started on the kitchen and bring down my desk and bookcases, the rest will all fall into place.

I have to note also that with the windows open and the ceiling fans going, the house felt very comfortable, even while doing heavy labour!

Well, it’s almost nine and I still have a small job to do (!), so I’d better get cracking. But first, I think I’ve earned a hot chocolate. 🙂

Hinchada

I replaced my iPhone 5C in the spring with a 6. My 5C had given me nothing but trouble from the get-go and its battery was dying. I was glad to have an excuse to get a much better phone for daily use. But I kept the 5C, which has almost no resale value, thinking that I could use it as a music player when I get set up in my own home. My mother gave me a little charging dock for it that would let me set it up in the kitchen for listening to music or podcasts (once I figure those out).

However, my 5C, evil thing that it is, had other plans.

I’ve been helping a friend shop for an iPhone of her own and pulled out the 5C the other day so I could show her just how much smaller it (and the similar SE) is to a regular size iPhone 6. This is what greeted me:

This was caused by a bad battery swelling (hence the title of this post). This phone really has been nothing but a lemon!

Since I’ve contacted Apple several times about this phone, I decided to waste some time and contact Apple again so they’d have another 5C horror story on file. I also rather hoped that the rep would take pity on me and offer me an App Store gift certificate for a token amount, but I wasn’t holding my breath.

The chat start off as normal, with my being asked to explain my problem briefly. I wrote: “I didn’t realise that iPhones self destruct.”

I then uploaded the above photo and added, “The battery on it swelled up and destroyed the phone.”

Next thing I knew, my case was being escalated and I was transferred to a more senior customer service rep. Surprising.

This second rep said that all she could do for me was to have the phone repaired or replaced. I explained that I’m in Mexico now and she said that’s not a problem and she would see if there’s a repair place nearby. There was no way, of course, that I was paying for anything related to this phone, but I let her work since while I’ve gotten some recs for Apple repair people in Mérida, I haven’t been able to figure out who is officially sanctioned by Apple.

She came back to me with only one authorised repairer in Mérida, who happens to be super convenient for me to get to, and asked for some information so she could append some notes to the serial number. It was there that I confessed that I had no intention of having the phone checked out. Which is when everything changed.

Even though the phone was well outside of warranty, the repair or, more likely, replacement would be absolutely free to me.

This decision was made primarily because the battery swelling issue is a known problem with the iPhone 5s (all models, but not necessarily all phones), but also because she saw that I’d contacted them before about issues with this phone and not been able to get to a repair shop for valid reasons (like a repair shop being 16 hours away roundtrip and my needing my phone for internet access so I couldn’t just mail it in and not have it for two weeks).

So there was recognition by the manufacturer that my 5C was a ticking time bomb of a lemon! I feel so validated. 🙂

Today, I went into Mérida to the iShop at the Altabrisa mall. There, they scanned the phone’s serial number and it brought up the note that I should get a repair or replacement at no charge. The lady said it was a clear case of replacement and that I’ll get a brand new phone in 10 days!!!

Now, I’m glad this happened when it did, after I got my 6, because it really is a superior phone and I might not have bought it if I had a better working 5C. But it’s great to know that I have a solid backup replacement phone in case something happens to my 6 (which I bought used). A new 5C’s value in Mexico is quite a bit higher than in the US and Canada so I am also toying with the idea of trying to sell it, but I think I’ll be happier sticking to my original plan of using it as a music player. At any rate, I have options!

Apple continues to provide me with extraordinary value. Sure, I’m getting more and more frustrated with them and their offerings as time goes on, but this experience was a good reminder of what a mistake it would be to go with any other manufacturer and offered the final little bit of confirmation I needed that sticking with an iPhone was the right call.

Thanks, Apple!

First Anniversary of Living in the 21st Century

It was a year ago today that I got internet access in Bulgaria and discovered that it is possible to stream a movie while downloading something in the background. I finally had 21st-century quality internet.

So today is my first anniversary of living in the 21st century at last. It’s been a full year of paying a reasonable amount for internet access, not worrying about bandwidth usage, dealing with ISPs who understand that internet is vital and needs to be fixed NOW, being in locations where free unlimited WiFi is ubiquitous, and getting a taste of that Star Trek-like future where the internet is just there.

Oh, it hasn’t been perfect by far. But when I look at my first 20 years of internet access in Canada and compare it to the last year spent mostly in Europe and Mexico, it’s like I jumped ahead a full century, as evidenced by how difficult it was to be offline that week I was home.

I can now take any job a client sends me, even if it’s a huge video, and because I can reliably download tons of audio in a day I’ve been able to grow my business and take on more clients.

Netflix is actually part of my routine now and I can download reliably from the iTunes store. So I’ve considerably cut down on torrenting (the only download method that works on slow and flaky internet).

All my device updates are done as they come out and the ever increasing security breaches with Macs aren’t as nervewracking since I can get the security update right away.

I can now sync my calendar, notes, and to-dos between my devices and have considerably cut down on how much paper I use and am less scattered.

In the next year, I want to learn what podcasts are all about and start backing up remotely (on top of the local backup).

But first, the challenge of getting myself hard wired to internet at my first home in Mexico. I’ve been promised that that will not go smoothly, but with 20 years of dealing with stupid Canadian ISPs under my belt, I can take anything TelMex or whomever I end up with throws at me! 😀

Sticking It To Canadian Telecom

I spent $160 for mobile service the ten months that I was in Europe. The breakdown is:

-$55 for three months in Bulgaria because I was paying per minute, text, and MB and didn’t realise that I should have been buying a package.

-$12 for 10 days in Serbia, for which I got unlimited calls and texts and so much data that I ended up using it to do my iOS updates.

-$30 for two months in Spain, for unlimited talk and text and a generous data allowance

-and $62 for two months in England, which was a more premium package with international calls, unlimited UK calls, unlimited texts, and something like 10GB of data.

There are so many Canadian plans and they vary from province to province, but as a point of reference, Bell Mobility starts at $32 a month (plus tax!) for 200Mb of data and limited talk and text. Realistically, I was looking at about $200 to get me through to my departure from Haven in May.

My original plan had been to keep my Mexican SIM topped up and use that in Canada since you can do that at the same price as if you’re in Mexico, but being an idiot, I forgot to top up.

Well…

TelCel is very generous with giving free gift balance and kept my account topped up the whole time I was gone. I just put 15CAD (200MXN) onto my account and got a package good for 30 days that has unlimited talk and text, plus 1.5GB of data, all good within Canada, the US, and Mexico. Bell’s most expensive plan ($66 plus tax) doesn’t even come close to that.

Any Canadians who go to Mexico on holiday should unlock their phones and get on a Mexican plan while down there, then cancel their service at home and tell Bell, Telus, etc. why. Now, I’m not sure if a Canadian number can call the Mexican number for free, but there are workarounds that would make this little protest painless. Canadian telecom prices are out outrageously out of sync with the rest of the world and it is time for us to revolt. As for me? Bye-bye Canadian telecom! You’ve seen the last of me!