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Idiot in Spanish: I am Jillian´s Mexican Interface

The old machine finally stopped. The Dell laptop I had been using for months processed its last, and we faced the challenge of buying a new computer in Merida. One problem with consumerism in general and tech shopping in particular here is that, 1) there aren´t as many options as we are used to and 2) it isn´t so obvious where to go for what you need. In one of our first impression articles Malcolm observed that stores are more demure here, and not the bodacious whores they are in the States. We cheered for small business and inconspicuous consumption. But that was before, when we were mere tourists. Now we have needs, goddamit, we are very important and we demand answers!

Another minor complaint is that stores are either super specialized, as in they sell only printer cartridge refills (or chickens) or they are an experience in escalators and chandeliers, department stores in the gracious old style where you can get everything from Belgian beer (more on this phenomenon later) to a Ducati motorcycle to a wild blue painted real live parrot. At Liverpool, the grande dame of Merida´s shopping scene, the customer is served by career salespersons who wear suits and wrap everything up in pretty pink striped bags. This is all very charming, but we just want to get back to the beach. It´s hot in town, not to mention distracting when you can´t find what you need but a whole lot of cool shiny pretty things that you really really want.

It was either hours or days later when we settled on an HP laptop from Costco. We had talked oursleves into and out of ordering from the States, waiting until my trip next month, and giving up altogether and reverting to my fairly recent habit of writing longhand. (I wonder how many other Luddites have been coverted by love?) Malcolm decided and stopped the debate. The price was good, it´s all tricked out with Windows Vista, and um…I like that it´s opalescent white with rounded edges and a good clickety key sound.

Speaking of flashbacks and regression, our card was rejected at the register. We knew the money was there, making it all the more frustrating and only a touch less embarrassing to be declined. Of course when we got home, computerless and dejected, we had a message from the bank notifying us that our account had been flagged for attempted big spending in Mexico. Thanks, BoA, way to have our back when we don´t at all need it. Note to self and to financial institution regarding living, working and spending abroad, ATMs and online banking: things are not always what they seem, say the technomads.

Next day, fresh faced, wallet bulging with pesos, we succeed in paying for my new machine. We were very content until we got her home and noticed the keyboard. Why had we not looked more closely or anticipated a Spanish language layout? It is not because we are entitled, self important imperialists, I assure you. I think it´s cool, acutally. I can do this: ¡ and this:¿ and even this:ñ. But I can´t find the apostrophe without a search and I will give 50 bucks to the person who shows me the hyphen. These are important symbols, people! Without typographical trickery and visual wit my writing shows its weakness. The other concern is that this Vista, which Malcolm was all gaga over and apparently was supposed to be able to convert into any language in fact does not. I can figure out that Guardar is Save and Bold is N for negro, but ¿what is the word for Italic (K)? Will we have time to return it within our 7 day window? Will I ever stopping hitting the bloq mayus KEY?

The answers to these and other tepid questions in our next update…

There Are 4 Responses So Far. »

  1. I just got an HP laptop through Costco, too, although I ordered it online so I could spec it out myself. After some bumps with the webcam not working and Vista not letting me use Acrobat to make pdfs….I am pretty happy.

    But I had to laugh at your B of A experience. Last spring when my son got transferred to Mexico City, his wife stayed here to rent their house. B of A was always turning down one of their purchases, as they were both using debit cards. They had two lengthy sessions that were really frustrating….but B of A also ALLOWED a charge from India without questioning it!

  2. If you remember the english key layout, you can set the computer language to english and the keyboard will have exactly the same layout as you’re used to. :)

  3. While watching tv tonight i came across a commercial that made me think of you two. With that thought firmly in mind i sat down to see what you guys are up to…..So……you moved. Geez, talk about dropping out! the place is amazing and i love the views of that beach. the videos on the bus was funny and being able to speak spanish I laughed pretty hard at the television video you posted. I hope all is super well with you 2. It looks as if your happy and thats all that matters.
    Send me your mailing address and we will send you a bottle of Mojito to remeber us by.

  4. Willie and Jacqui! Good to hear from you! Shoot me an email and we will catch up.

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