It took me two months before I learned how to call my husband on his mobile phone from my own home phone! I prefer to think of myself as reasonably smart, but I just could not figure out the Mexican system. You are probably rolling your eyes right now and wondering: seriously? Just pick up the phone and dial the number, really… Just imagine me smiling at you with a little pity while reminiscing the days that ignorance was bliss for me too.
To start at the beginning; just as in every other country, each area has an area code. So far, so good! But… and here is where it gets tricky, mobile phones have area codes too! So, you think, fine: if the area code is 229 and your number 1234567 just dial that.
Ha! You cannot dial that from a landline. And trust me I have tried till my fingers turned blue. I also tried to add a 1 for long distance. That did not work either. The locals told me to dial 044 in front of the mobile number, which would make it 044 229 1234567. I tested this by calling a girlfriend’s phone and (yeah!) it worked.
Now that I knew how to do it, I made plans to call my husband at night (he was still working in Carmen at the time). I opened a nice bottle of white and made sure the cigarettes were handy. I dialed the number, totally excited as if it was my first call ever, and ….. it did not work. Arghhhh.
Frustrated I threw the phone against the wall and decided to never try to make another call from Mexico again. Hardly realistic, but I gave it a good try. Off and on it kept nagging in the back of my head: why can’t I make a simple phone call? If any Mexican can do it, shouldn’t I be able to? Or is this some huge conspiracy from Mexico against stupid gringo’s (I may have paranoia issues).
Weeks later, while complaining about the fact that I still hadn’t figured out how to call my husband, someone finally told me the big secret: ‘you should dial 045 instead of 044’. Huh? Why? Well (and her voice went into duh-mode), since my husband’s phone has the area code of Ciudad del Carmen, it’s a long distance call and for mobiles you have to dial 045 from a land line.
Without any expectations I tried it and YES it worked! The hubbie and I called every day, to catch up on the day, make plans for the weekend, gossip a little, etcetera. And then the first telephone bill came in and I found out that calling long distance within Mexico is outrageously expensive.
So all that new learned knowledge was basically useless; my new Ipad moved to Carmen so that we could Skype, as I do with the rest of my family. I only call local numbers and people in Canada and the US, because for some reason our phone plan (another new item in my life) allows us to call North America for free. Go figure…