Capts. David and Desiree
Yes, we are back on the boat! Are we cruising? Not quite yet, but hopefully in the next couple of days. It seems every time we return back from the USA, we somehow always forget what it takes to get the boat shipshape and ready to sail. At least we don't have to replace an engine, but there are sails to put up, trampolines to put back on, the SSB Pactor modem to get running once more (i.e. new computer to interface) and the list goes on. Oh, and it is hot. Daily temperatures are between 100-108 degrees, so we often did our work between midnight and 9AM. We suspected this was going to be an issue so we rented a flat here for the first few days. It had air conditioning... Very sexy. We used our jet lag to our advantage and worked the night shift. Most the things we use on a daily basis were stored in the various cabins, so slowly things are being excavated.
One technical piece that has become vital to us are cell phones. It has been fairly smooth from country to country, but Turkey has had some unique requirements. Now as most of you probably guessed, Dave, of course, is the techno guy of the crew. But one would think, how techno can cell phones be... Dave, as many of you know, was here in Turkey for the month of May and obtained a solid grip of the phone issues. Although he told me in bits and pieces of the challenges of cell phones, it did not come together until after my "adventure."
Let me explain what is now very clear after my ten-hour trip to activate our cell phones. You can put a chip into a cell phone that will last for three weeks. During that time YOU MUST go the capital of the province to register your foreign cell phone so you may continue to add funds for further use in Turkey. If you wait until after these three weeks to activate your phone, it is blacklisted. You will be unable to use your phone and it will say "inactive phone", "Invalid mobile" or some word variant. Now Turkcell stores are on almost every block, but you MUST go to this central location, a "Turkcell EXTRA", and THEN it takes 10 days for your phone to activate! Dave was doing computer work on the boat, and figured this was a project I could handle. (I figured how hard could it be?) In addition, we had met Joan who was in this three-week window, and she needed to register her phone that she had purchased in Malaysia. One other fact??"we had two phones we were trying to register, so Wesley lost the draw and was part of the adventure team. So we grabbed our passports, two phones, and headed off on the 8:30 harbor ferry to the bus station.
We made it to the bus station, and then were transferred to the larger bus station and once more we were off. It was an hour ride to Mugla. Stepping off the bus, the heat was definitely climbing. We used our best instincts and headed right, turning down people who offered to take us to the market place. We were looking for Turkcell EXTRA (you'd imagine the sign would be huge), but after a couple of Turkcell stores we saw one with a tiny EXTRA sign about 4 by 6 inches. We had arrived! Our first challenge was the language barrier. Although one individual spoke some English, in retrospect, her techno advice definitely led me astray. We stated that we were here to register our phones, and she insisted we had to buy time on our phone, although we both had time on our sim chips. All the paper work was in Turkish, so we figured for 20 lira (about 15 US dollars) we would go with it. She also looked at Wesley and said one had to be 18 years to register a phone. I told her I had seen younger people with phones, and after much deliberation I finally gathered that an adult could register a phone, then pass it on to a minor. Wesley had lost the draw, and he soon realized he was being dragged about for no reason.
Our first level of paperwork was completed, and just when she was about to copy our passports, the power went off. We waited for a few minutes. I asked how long she thought it would take to come back on. She said she had no idea. We decided to take off and walk around for a while. It was time to hydrate and give Wesley some well deserved chips. About an hour later, we went back and the power was on. After completing that paperwork, we went next to the registration line. In retrospect, why we didn't go to that line first is really a good question. If perhaps we could have communicated our needs better, we would have. I can communicate in three languages, but Turkish isn't one of them. We filled out more paper work, another copy of our passport, and we were out the door.
Now it was really hot, and we were ready to go home. I had not put this new chip in, and that made me uncomfortable. We always checked out our chips before we left a cell phone place. We hurried to the bus station, saw our return bus, but it was full. We sat back outside, and I thought I should try out this phone with its new chip before we left Mugla. I encouraged Joan to do the same. Joan's phone said "Turkish Cell" and mine said, "Invalid mobile". I thought oh no!!!! (But we were dealing with two different "types" of phone??"Joan's phone who had not had her phone invalidated since she was in the three week window, but mine had been invalidated since I was outside the three week window, and it would continue to say so until the 10 day reactivation time after the registration. NOW I get it, but it was not clear to me with my brain baking in the 105 degrees temp.) I told Joan I had to go back to Turkcell EXTRA to find an explanation. I asked if she wanted to wait at the bus stop, but she was willing to hike back up with me. When we arrived, the young lady with her bit of English, read "Invalid mobile" and said, "Your sim card is locked, you must take it to a technician to be unlocked." If I could have communicated with Dave, I would have, because something didn't seem right, but there was no way. And when she said that, I recalled a particular cell phone we had had in the USA. Dave tried to unlock it for a year, and then what it took for him to get it unlocked! I was thinking, I just took an hour bus ride to get out here and if I don't get this taken care of, we may never get this phone to work. These Turkish cell phones had such quirks, maybe this was just one more, this "locking" issue. (In a less heated environment, I might have thought, well, gee, we've used this phone throughout a number of countries and never had any problems with being "locked", but...) So I asked this woman to write down what needed to be done in Turkish, and directions to this technician. Three stores later, handing out my little piece of paper with my "needs" written out in Turkish, I arrived to this store. A claustrophic 4 x 8 feet, it sported cell phones and a computer... and now three more bodies.
Isa, as he introduced himself, got to work to unlock my phone (which let me repeat again was never locked to begin with). He was pleasant enough, and looked like what Dave does when he is trying to work on a computer project. He was on the internet and had various programs running. He kept on saying "Programs, Programs." I thought sure, you are working on many programs. He says he liked to work on Nokias best, (this one was a Sony Ericsson), but if he couldn't "fix" it, his brother who worked more on Sony Ericsson would. As I was watching him work, it reminded me of the 8 hours Dave once took to download from the computer the ring tone of Harry Potter for his phone. Slowly, however, I realized that when he was saying "program," he actually meant "problem, problem." Then his brother came out and after two hours it appeared the phone was "unlocked." It even said Turkish Cell on the phone, so I figured it was a go, and we were ready to depart.
We exited the rectangle, tried to take a short cut to the bus stop, and realized we were ending up in the maze of the town. We retraced our steps, and noticing the heat off the pavement, we quickly made haste to the bus. We waited for a few moments and Voila, the bus. We hoping for effective air conditioning, but alas, the temperature was 38degrees C (or just under 100 degreesF). An hour later, we got off the bus, and hiked down to the ferry. Although it was a long day, I had a sense of accomplishment, as there was no way I was returning home "empty handed."
I started to recount my tale to Dave. I told him I had a problem with the phone but after much work it had been " fixed." I explained how it had the message "Invalid moblie" and that it was "locked"... Dave began to look pale, "Of course it would say still invalid moblie, because it will not be functioning for 10 days. He pointed out the phone has never been locked or how could we have used it in all those countries?" My heart began to sink. What that woman interpreted as "Invalid mobile" was phone lock, and I was led down a path that I should never have been led down, and unable to contact Dave to set me back on the yellow back road, well... I so much did not want to come home with an unfinished job. Dave, seeing how I was so misdirected and sabotaged with the whole ordeal, and understanding my sense of desire to complete a job, really felt bad for me. I was going to make dinner, but we went out and had a really nice (big) bottle of rose.
So, will this phone ever work? Who knows? All the original firmware had been forcibly overwritten. We'll have to wait the 10 days and see what happens. I now know so much more about cell phones, so if you have any questions, just ask me and I can now set you back on the yellow brick road.
Oh, and by the way, when I ran into Joan, she told me her phone was no longer working either.
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