Since it was a holiday (3 Kings Day) when I arrived on Sunday and Monday, I had to wait until Tuesday to activate my cell phone.

And, because I happen to have an iPhone, I could only get the necessary microSIM card by visiting a provider’s main office in another part of Cartagena called Bocagrande. This is what I had to do:

  • Hop in a cab and negotiate a fair price to the Claro office in Bocagrande
  • tell the receptionist what you want, show photo of passport
  • take a number and wait in line, go upstairs and pay for SIM card
  • get your debit card declined because your bank likely forgot to note that you would be traveling abroad -despite telling them well in advance
  • switch to another card and pray this bank remembered you’d be traveling
  • try to call your friend to confirm lunch date and wonder why your phone isn’t working
  • walk back to salesperson who helped you previously and ask about phone plan options
  • go back upstairs to cashier and stand in long line to purchase plan
  • be told you have to use the computer behind you to purchase prepaid plan
  • navigate computer purchasing system then get back in line to pay for plan
  • hop in another cab and negotiate a decent rate back home

Sounds simple enough, right? Now do all of this without using any English whatsoever. Yea, not so simple anymore. I felt so accomplished when I was finally able to activate my cell. This was the first time I navigated outside of the walled city and took care of business without one of my local Colombian friends accompanying me. This was the first time I felt like a proper adult.

My Spanish comprehension and production has improved quite rapidly since my arrival 4 days ago. Doing things alone (sola) are also getting easier as a result. I imagine that by the end of my stay I should be even better.


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