Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting connected

We discovered that getting connected with the outside world is not an easy task here. We explored many options only to learn that there were no new phone lines available, then that changed to a possibility if we bought the wire and hired a guy to install it. The wire proved quite expensive and we would have to measure the distance from pole to our house to determine the amount of wire needed, then go to La Cieba to get the wire. We went to the phone company office where our friend signed the paperwork for 5 new phone lines; we can't have one in our name, but we did get a phone number. However, we were told that there were no DSL lines available and wouldn't be before maybe April. Our friend will check with another contact and see if a DSL line can somehow become available sooner.
After measuring the length of phone wire needed, 1500-1600 feet, we learned that the phone company wouldn't run any more than 1200-1300 feet. Thankfully our friends had not bought any wire yet! Our friend spoke with someone else at the phone company and was told that they could get cable run for 8-12 phone lines for about 85000 lempira ($4497.35 US), but still no DSL. We gave up on the idea of a land line at that point and got a cell phone.
When Rachel arrived for a visit, we went to the Claro store to buy a phone. She was our interpreter as the staff only spoke Spanish. We bought the cheapest cell phone available, about $20 US and bought 2 phone cards for 600 lempira ($60. US). We don't know how many minutes that yields but were told that we could call the States for just pennies per minute. The first person we called was our son, Dave. Rachel made the call and it scared him to death. He thought something was dreadfully wrong and was very relieved when reassured differently.
Next we called my parents who were just thrilled to death to hear from us. It was so good to talk to everyone after a month of silence. (We had told everyone not to expect any phone calls from us except in an emergency. When we called Roatan from the States, it cost us $5.00 per minute!)
We still aren't sure what the per minute cost is for these calls. I have made several 20-30 minute calls to the States and still have a balance of 530 lempira, plus I have a bonus balance of 850 lempira. I had to ask what that was. The bonus can only be used to call other Claro customers locally. That's cool.

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