Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hooked on Phones!

When we came to the island getting a telephone was difficult.  There just were not enough lines to go around so one had to wait until a phone number opened up.  Of course then you only had HonduTel to work with and if you lived in an area with access to their lines, it was still difficult at best and almost impossible if you did not have access.

About 6 years ago or so (more or less), cellular phones came to the island!  What an innovation!  While we had all connected with our VHFs and depended upon that for a source of communication we now had access to cell phones.  

It took us a while before my husband and I broke down and bought a phone giving up our VHF connection.  Of course here on the island we have to buy minutes and these are sold at many of the stores around town.  At first the cards were small but manageable and of readable size.  Suddenly, one day, TIGO, in their infinite wisdom to save money (?) decided to downsize the card and now it is 1"x1".  Of of course this means it is much easier to lose and to read those scratched off numbers which one must input into the phone.  Then there is always the problem of being in the middle of a conversation and having no idea that you are almost out of minutes and bam, the conversation is ended.  You keep talking thinking you are still connected and then suddenly realize that that other end of the line has been disconnected and there is a vast void out there.

Of course, there are times when you have minutes available but evidentially TIGO or some other power decides that “Hey, you’ve talked long enough” and the line goes dead for no reason at all.  And calling is not always that easy.  Sometimes you will get a message that there is no access, but if you are persistent and keep on entering the number in various ways you will get through. Sometime, for no reason, you seem to be out of reach of the tower’s band width even though you are in the same spot where you’ve made hundreds of calls.  Then there are always those blackouts; unexplainable happenings wherein we get no signal even though we have enough bar codes for strength indicated.

One becomes accustomed to these inconveniences; after all, we are now in step with the modern world and we have communication at our fingertips so we must take the good with the bad.  This along with the internet has made our lives so much easier.

Of course, once they have you hooked they do all sorts of stuff.  Like, make your old phone obsolete either by the way it functions or it looks.  People are constantly scrambling to upgrade their phone for who knows what reason.  I prefer to stick with what I have; it works so why spend more money?  Then, since we live on the ocean, many phones are lost over the side of the boat!

If they can't get you with that well then the "World At Large" decided that in order to control terrorists, people running drugs and/or kidnappers everyone must now register their cell phone.  Ok I say - what's the big deal?  We are offered the option of registering on-line so I do.  It is a little time consuming and redundant because they got all this information when I bought the phone and the number, but what the heck, in the name of safety and our future well being (?) I'll go along.  

Then they announce that while you can register on-line, they have decided that you MUST go into a TIGO office to present your I.D. and complete registration.  Well, this is just great.  Here we are, on an island and no TIGO office or representative to take our information.  This means each person must spend about $200 to fly to the mainland and register!  What the really, really poor people are going to do is beyond me.  I for one go the coast twice a year; once for a yearly medical checkup and secondly to renew my residency and get blood work done at the clinic.  I'm not about to spend money to fly over just to register my phone!

We did have until May 15th as the deadline to accomplish this registration but then the government or whoever is in charge decided to extend the deadline.  One source said we now had until December 2012, another source said July 15, 2012 and finally, from what I hear, we have until June 15, 2012!

Plus, I was just reading the other day on our Honduran Living Group the following:

"[I] went to Tigo at the mall in La Ceiba last week. I had already registered my # online but was also told that I needed to come in. My friend had also added some time onto my # a few days before and I had only been away for 2 mos. Regardless, although they accepted my registration and my friend's $$ (no refunds!), they had already "recycled" my number. The young man assisting me told me that chips will now automatically be recycled every two months if they have no activity.

Upon trying to buy a new chip, it turned out that they are having a lot of problems with the chips and the first 2 did not even work. Finally I was able to get my phone working but it took quite a while.

For those of us who travel back and forth, I guess this means that now, in addition to trying to keep our #s active, we will have to continually go to Tigo to register NEW numbers! Agh! Just another day in Honduras . . . . 

Never gave this much thought before but I wonder how far away we are from world-wide, low-cost cell phone service?"

So, now I'm reading that if you don't use your phone for two months, they take away your number which means we must go through the whole process again!  

I'm sorry, but this is complete madness.  The "government" (or whoever is in charge of this action) says that if a terrorist/drug runner/kidnapper uses your phone in a crime, you are responsible because it is your phone!  Yeah, like they are going to enforce that law!  Hey, they don't enforce the laws against stealing, breaking of environmental laws, murder, child abuse, trespassing, land stealing - so why should they enforce this one?  And if your phone is stolen and you live on an island with no representative or in some remote area and can't get to a TIGO representative to report it and a crime is committed, what then?

This all may work in the "real" advanced countries but just ain't gonna work here.  It is simply a real inconvenience not to mention a huge expense on the people that do not have access to a representative!  

What can we do however?  Luckily for me I registered my "travel phone" in Ceiba when we were there for our residency renewal in April and am fortunately going to leave soon to attend my Grandson's wedding in Indiana.  On the way out of the country I will be in San Pedro Sula and I can register my phone then.  But what of all the unfortunate people that can't afford it or live too far to make the long trek to a village/town/city where they can register?


  1. Hi
    Every year when we return to the island we have to buy a new phone. Now it sounds like its getting crazier! I commented on your last post, my name is Glenn, tried to email you but it doesnt seem to work, would love to trade emails a few times before we return this summer. If you like you can email me at We are always looking for new friends. We should be starting our house this month.
    Glenn and Nikki

  2. Hi Sharon, I hope Ernesto leaves you all alone.