Phone Calling “101”, Mexican Style
December 28th, 2009 by Les

Jack Handy, an American writer and cast member of Saturday Night Live from 1991-2003 once said: “A good way to threaten somebody is to light a stick of dynamite.  Then you call the guy and hold the burning fuse up to the phone.  “Hear that?” You say.  “That’s dynamite, baby.””

That might actually work if you could, in fact, get the phone call to actually go through.  This brings me to the thread of this blog – Phone Calling 101 – a course that should be offered throughout Mexico for those of us who seem unable to consummate a phone call….of any kind.

David has several friends who meet each day in the town square at 10:00 a.m. for coffee and conversation.  He asked, at one of these get-togethers, how does one dial any number and actually get the person to whom they wish to speak?

Without being too loquacious I will try to synopsize some of the answers he received.

If someone gives you a phone number, you dial it.  Pretty upfront and one would think easy to follow.  (My suggestion, don’t think…just dial.)

If, after dialing you don’t reach the party you intended to reach, or anyone at all for that matter, place a “33” prior to the number.  By placing a “33” prior to the number you are calling a Guadalajara number.  (Makes sense.)

If after prefacing your number with a “33’ you still don’t reach the party you intended to reach (now I feel like I’m doing a Lilly Tomlin “Ernestine the Telephone Operator” act), it is probably a cell phone number.  You ask, quite reasonably, if it’s a cell number, why don’t they say so?  This query usually simply gets a look like – well, if it isn’t one then it’s the other. (I can accept that.)

Okay so if it’s a cell number you place a “045” and then a “33” prior to the number.  (Please folks, if I’ve got this all wrong, bear with me.)

By way of further information they also explained Mexico City and Guadalajara have 2 digit area codes followed by an 8 digit number.  All the rest of Mexico has 3 digit area codes followed by a 7 digit number.  Yes, for those of you who are counting, both equal 10 digits and, if you are like me, your head is spinning and the word “duh” is coming up frequently as both a noun and a verb.

To add to all of the above information we have two phones.  You’ve got that right folks, a US phone and a Mexican phone.  No, they do not translate (Spanish to English or visa versa).  We’ve found it unnecessary for them to translate as we never get through on the Mexican phone anyway.

Another problem for us is we are used to phone numbers in the states (that’s reasonable given we both have lived there most of our lives)…a number such as  414.214.4444 tells us instantly the phone number is a Wisconsin number and, if we happen to be out of Wisconsin (we are way out of Wisconsin now!), we will need to dial a “1” prior to that number.  When you are given a Mexican number it can look like, for example, 765 5249 y 50 or 763 2330.  Looks pretty simple up front, doesn’t it?  Don’t let that fool you.  By the time you are through you will be puzzled, perplexed, mystified, baffled, bewildered, befuddled, your dialing digit will ache… well you get my drift.

The series of pictures accompanying this blog are of the various phones we have in our house.  The phones are labeled both in the pictures below and at home (don’t go there it’s the only way we can remember which phone number goes with which phone).  These are followed by several pictures of David in the act of using said phones (and I “use” that term lightly).  The last picture is of the only “person” in our house who has been able to do anything with the Mexican phone besides grip it firmly and pray for some type of connection and a friendly voice on the other end! One good thing, neither of us will be threatening anyone soon as neither of us has received our certificate of graduation in Phone Calling “101”.  Viva La Mexico!

Phones at Rest

Phones at Rest

US Phone, Diabolically Simple in Appearance

US Phone, Diabolically Simple in Appearance

Mexican Phone -  Glibly Facile in Appearance

Mexican Phone - Glibly Facile in Appearance

David – Remaining Calm Under Pressure

David – Remaining Calm Under Pressure

David – Audacious in Spirit

David – Audacious in Spirit

Senior Parrot in Charge

Senior Parrot in Charge

2 Responses  
  • Garretot writes:
    March 30th, 20102:24 pmat – da mejor. Guardar va!


  • Sid Grosvenor writes:
    December 28th, 20099:47 pmat

    Hi Les, You actually did a good job of explaining the phone system.

    Here’s a little background on the cell phone. A number of years ago all but one cell phone company’s phones (Pegasus)for use in our area where long distance calls to Guadalajara.

    Since we all thought that this was “poco loco” and threfore people complained a lot to Tel Mex that this just wasn’t fair.

    Tel Mex then gave land line phones in our area a way to call a cell phone which wasn’t long distance rates but it was a small extra charge to connect with a cell (with a Guad. number)

    They gave us (045) which is an access number use from a local land line exchange like 766 or 765 to use to call the Guad. based cell phones.

    I had one of the few cell phones 6 years ago that had a local number.. so I could call local numbers in Chapala and Ajijic without the need to call long distance and land line phones could call my cell. Pretty cool… but that firm was bought by Movie Star (owned by a big Firm in Spain and very popular all over South America by the way).

    The neat thing is that if you need to call Guad. it’s not long distance from your cell phone because the cell phone thinks it’s in Guad.

    Are you still with me here?

    Good. Now lets move on the voice over IP phones like Vonage. (Voice over Internet protocol).

    They all think they’re in the USA so when you lift the receiver you have a dial tone in the USA use the 011 (international access prefix) plus the Mexico country code (52) then the area code (376 in our area in Chapala and Ajijic) and then the local prefix (766 or 765 or in Joco 763) plus the 4 digit number)

    By the way the Movie Star cells work great all over Mexico and all over South America and all over Texas (via roaming of course).

    Tel Mex is trying to compete with Vonage by including I think 100 minutes to the USA bundled with one of their plans for local service, unlimited local calls, unlimited long distance in Mexico calls and high speed internet over DSL (Digital Server Line).

    Class is over. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

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