I’ve cycled through the usual: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression. I’m still working on acceptance. Boyfriend? No, I’ve been dumped by my international cell service.
I’ve never been so in love with a real provider. We’ve been together for over five years–through a pandemic, through lockdowns, through a sprained ankle, through 100+ destinations, through four continents, through earthquakes, through floods, through the Drake Passage–twice, through a 22-hour Canadian train ride, through an expired visa in Colombia, through a drunken port tasting in Portugal, through 2,000 empanadas–half baked/half fried, through an 8-day intensive language camp. Memories. It’s over now.
It all started in Barcelona when our mutual friend Ryan introduced us. What was the attraction? International roaming. It was amazing. I’d land in Madrid and immediately get a text–while still on the plane! Hi Alexis! Welcome to Madrid. You’ll be connected in minutes! I guess that was just the honeymoon phase. Now that service is being withheld. Let’s just be friends? Are you kidding?
The love of my life WAS Google Fi, the most amazing international cell plan ever envisioned. Unlimited calling and texting in the US, PLUS free international texting and international calling for a per-minute price. AND international data, refundable if you didn’t use it, and … IT TRAVELED WITH YOU! All for roughly $35/month. No daily international fees, no need to connect to wifi, no need for a local SIM card. The perfect international travel companion. Shoulda put a ring on it.
Fi broke up over email! Can you believe it? After five years? Is this high school? You’d expect a cell provider to at least give you a call. I’m assuming it’s free for them.
So here I am in Mexico, stranded in a foreign country by a lousy provider. Lesson: There is no reward for loyalty. Oh, Fi said, When you return to the United States your data will be reset! Really. How does that help me now? Can’t I just pay more? I have seven weeks left in Mexico. What part of International Phone do you not understand? Ugh!
I am strong. I am independent. I don’t need Fi. I will find another way. It will be a total, international, pain in the ass. It will be cumbersome. It will be inconvenient. But, I will find another way.
I will provide my own roaming data. I will be my own hot spot! Tssss!
So, with an old Android from my friend Christophe and a $2.50 investment in Telcel, I’m up and running again. That’s right, for the price of a drip coffee in the US, I was able to purchase a new SIM card and 2 GIGS OF DATA! My ex will be so jealous.
But that’s not the end of the story. Two days after I was up and running, the battery died on Christophe’s hot spot phone and I could find no replacement for it in all of Mexico. Believe me, I’ve tried. I was running out of steam and ideas, but my friend Peter, Mr. Eternal Spring AKA The Happy Minimalist came to the rescue. So …
1–Port my number to Google Voice, a free online phone concept
2–Download the Google Voice app to my Android
3–Wait 24 hours
4–Replace Fi SIM with Mexican SIM
Magically, I now have a US number that I can answer in Mexico free of charge. I can now send and receive texts–also free. Plus, cheap roaming on my Mexican SIM! Calling out seems to be a problem, but I’m working on it. Temporary solution = Skype.
I need to lie down now.
Reading: A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain and Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
Next stop: Guadalajara, MX