I got a new smartphone. It's a $100 model from Posh Mobile, a brand new company (NOT a provider) of unlocked phones. It's Android. I have to say I'm very impressed with it. The battery does go down markedly faster than iPhone 5S when in use, but iPhone 5S costs like 6x more brand new. Soooo... yeah. It also has the same amount of storage as my iPhone, but only cost $17 more to get it that way, by way of a microSD card. I paid an extra $100 for my iPhone to have 32gb. Anytime I reach a snag, I just tell myself, "It's a $100 smartphone, Pyle" and if I keep that in mind, I'm pretty impressed with the value for the money.
Why did I get a new phone? Well, and I didn't blog about this before, but I'd been fighting with AT&T for the right to unlock my 5S to be able to use it in Ecuador. I got denied three times. They WILL unlock it, IF I cancel my contract and pay a $245 early termination fee. LAME. It's my phone!! I don't want to cancel my plan, just put it on hold while I'm gone, and use it someplace else! GEEZ!! So I thought, screw that, I'll SELL my 5S while it's still worth something, buy a phone that'll do what I need it to (let's be honest, I only *need* access to email, calls, and text), and then get a local SIM card when we get there. Other folks in EC have shared that they purchase 300mb of data from Claro (provider) and it lasts them six weeks... for $12! Way better than trying to get some $50/month plan.
The Ecuador Expats group on Facebook has been absolutely invaluable to us as we prepare to take this trip [of a lifetime!!!]. Any question we've had along the way so far has been cheerfully answered and many wise voices have chimed in to help us with even the smallest decisions. Today was no different. We'd been discussing luggage a lot between the two of us here at home, and so I thought I'd post and get some feedback from the group. LOTS of feedback, I got. Within minutes. Super responsive, helpful people. I got many new ideas, suggestions for solid duffle bags with and without wheels, packing tips, and much more.
We can get duffle bags on wheels weighing in at 7 lbs each for about $50 a piece... we can get solid non-wheeled duffle bags weighing in at just 3 lbs each for $30 a piece, including a shoulder strap. Now we just need to "weigh" our options. Plenty of folks took ONLY duffle bags, and some people even took THREE duffle bags for their person, and were able to manage. Note some of these folks were in their sixties. There are carts at the airport, and we have options of how we get from the airport to Cuenca, too... the most attractive option with all those bags is a private van, honestly... then we're in charge and you get portal to portal service. No need to get off at a bus station, get your bags out, put your bags in, and then take them out again once we're finally at our place. Ha. Sometimes it pays to go for convenience, even if you spend more.
Still having some fun learnin' Español! I am constantly drawing parallels between English, German, and Spanish (which is my THIRD language, never thought I'd learn a third!) and I've pinpointed a few things that make German harder than Spanish:
- many German plurals aren't as simple as adding -s or -es to the end
- German pronouns change after prepositions -- in 3 ways, depending on the case!!
- prepositions for "at" and "on" change based on the verb
That's all I got so far... but these three things alone (ESPECIALLY prepositions) have made learning Spanish delightfully easy so far. I'm two weeks in and can speak full sentences... learning vocab will probably be the hardest but I've got a couple tools under my belt for making that easier. I've started labeling items in the house with their Spanish names and every time I see the name, I say it, and try to say the word in a sentence. So far, I've only said things like "The sponge is next to the window," and "I need more soap for the bathroom". But hey, I just labeled everything last night :))
Okay, that's it for now...