On Cell Phones in Colombia
We were exhausted when we arrived in Medellín, so we didn’t get SIM cards for our phones at the airport like we usually do. Instead, we bought a glass of whiskey each at one of the little carts (the bottles were on a shelf upside-down like flavor bottles at a café), then settled to wait for the bus. We were sure we could figure it out later.
This turned out to have been a good decision. We have both decided to not carry around our smartphones, for safety’s sake. I’ve already met three people who had theirs stolen because they used them in public, and some of those were at gunpoint, at a random traffic light, while they were in a car! That’s a situation I plan on avoiding if at all possible. Those events happened in the center of Medellín, not in peaceful Envigado where we live, but still…
In case you’re interested, you can easily get a SIM card for an iPhone from any Claro or Virgin Mobile store. You can’t get unlimited data here, but 2GB/month is around $50,000 CAP ($25 USD). In the states, my plan is for 3GB, a limit that I never reach.
So here’s our solution: we both bought tiny Claro phones with prepaid plans, from a kiosk at the local Éxito (equivalent to Walmart). The phones cost about $25 USD, and came with $5,000 CAP worth of minutes. Chloe grabbed a Samsung and I grabbed an Alcatel – both will hold music and have cameras, but it’s odd to use such a tiny phone after getting used to a smartphone.
One of the cool things about these phones is that they’ll accept calls from the US for free.
Our apartment has internet, so Skype will still work on our smartphones, which we leave at home. My New Mexico numbers will all still reach me here. But when we go out, we take our cheap little phones, which are much less of a safety concern.
And you know what? I kind of like giving up my smartphone when exploring the city. Conversation is more fun, anyway. Even getting lost is fun – you have to talk to strangers to find your way instead of keeping your eyes glued to Google Maps.
Not too shabby!