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Entered By: Mark
Entry Date: 2012-01-25 11:33:13
Subject: Third World Net

Hannah has been performing an increasing amount of work for me on the computer to the point that we're running into a bit of a sharing problem on Paula's computer (it's used for school for three children, as well as Paula's and Hannah's work). For this reason I was going to buy a modem for Hannah's computer so that she can continue to work more and accumulate cash for college. I already had an extra "chip" for a modem, so it should have been been a simple exercise of buying a modem to put it in, should have been.

I went to the telecom company, Claro, owned by the wealthiest man in the world, Carlos Slim Helu. They told me that they had modems but they were reserved for people with plans. I told them that I had a plan. I actually have a lot of plans, including a couple plans relevant to Claro. The saleswoman told me that the modems were for people wanting to buy new plans. She said that there are two stores in town that sell the modems. I walked to the first one and got a familiar response, "no hay" (There are none.)  

On a personal note and tangent I take the phrase "no hay" the wrong way. To tell me that "there are none" is to tell me that the product does not exist anywhere in the world. I get this response a lot when asking for something in our little berg and it's a bit annoying. The closest translation to "No hay" is "We don't have it here in Siguatepeque, you'll need to suffer a day of horrific travel to the capital city and buy it there". "No hay" is just an abbreviation or acronym or something, but don't translate it literally.

Anyway, I returned to Claro and told them that the first store had no modems for sale. They told me the name of the second store, which was also within walking distance. The second store was a bit more modern because they had more people selling finance plans than products. Exhibiting my usual amount of patience, I asked a finance person rather than trying to find a sales person if they sold modems. Finance lady asked sale lady, sales lady asked computer guy. Computer guy replied "no hay".

I returned to the Claro store to relay the news that neither did the stores have modems, nor would I go away quietly. They insisted that the modems they had were only for people securing new plans. I asked if I could cancel my old plan and get a new one, no dice.

So, I could be spending an extra $20/month at Claro but they refused to sell me a modem.

As our good friend and mission pastor Jim Pack says, "third world countries are uniquely designed to remain third world countries."

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