Friday, November 25, 2011


It's very easy to get wifi in Mexico. You go to a Telcel store, buy a stick which comes with one month free. They then activate it and you are good to go. You can buy more time at many grocery stores, any telcel outlet, and quite a few of the Oxxo stores. Oxxo stores are like 7-11 in our neck of the woods.

This is how we did it:

We read somewhere that you need to get a TelMex stick from a TelMex store. The first day in Mexico we couldn't find one along our route, but knew we would find one in Saltillo so we didn't much fuss about it. We arrived in Saltillo on a Sunday afternoon, we were told that TelMex is not open on Sundays. We went for a walk over to the Mall, which had Telcel and Movistar sticks, but we had read the TelMex was the best way to go because it had the best coverage. We got direction to the TelMex store and was told it would open at 8:30 a.m. on Monday.

Monday morning we waited until 8:15 before heading out toward Zacatecas so we could get our internet happening. TelMex was closed on Mondays. We got directions to another TelMex store....and couldn't find it. We decided to keep on turtling because by then we had wasted enough time. Dogtown, Mexico was our next stop...about a half out outside of Zacatecas. There was a Telmex there, but it was closed by the time we rolled into town. Oh well, we could live without internet for another day.

Off we went to Guatalajara on Tuesday morning. They had internet at the RV campsite we were staying at, albeit slow and we had to go to the clubhouse to use it. No worries, we could wait another day. By this time, Gerry has a horrendous migraine, and I can barely walk from all the driving. We hit the sack early thinking we would find ourselves an internet stick the next day. The next day, Gerry is still throwing up from his migraine, and I can still barely walk, so we don't fuss about it much. We ask around, and learn that we can take a taxi for about 5.00 to Telmex. Later in the afternoon, we suck it up and walk out to the road and hail a cab.

The cab driver takes us to a mall in a very swanky neighbourhood. We go inside the mall and find that there is no Telmex, only a Telcel. We had noticed a Telcel stick in the grocery store for 299 pesos. We talked to the lady in Telcel, who just happens to speak English. She was very helpful, but the product she had was really not what we wanted. We wanted a device that multiple users could interface with at the same time, Telcel only had devices that plugged into the USB port. The devices in her store were 699 pesos. We asked her what the difference was between hers and the one at the grocery store. She said they were exactly the same. They had been on sale last week, and it was probably still on sale at the grocery store, but she could not honour the sale in her store. Ok, well, she told us there was a Telmex only a few blocks away. We hailed another cab who took us to Telmex.

We go into Telmex, which is very much like a Bell Canada. They don't sell wifi internet sticks. They only sell landline telephone and internet and cell phones. HUH.

Ok, so we ask if they could call us a can do. huh? There were no cabs driving around this swank neighbourhood....oh well, it was only a few blocks we could hoof it. I think I remember how the cab driver got there...maybe I was paying attention.

Ooops, wrong turn. Thankfully there are tons of security guards driving around, they turned us back to the right direction and eventually we came upon the mall. Well, why go to Telcel when we know the same item was in the grocery store for much much less?

We go into the grocery store, and after much ado, me using the Spanish/English dictionary, and them calling the lady from the bakery over to the electronics section to get us out the Telcel wifi stick. Yes, we get one free month with the purchase and we can buy extra time online using a credit card or from any ATM machine, and most OXXO stores.

We call a cab and head back to the RV. Poor Gerry's migraine is threatening to return, so he goes straight to sleep. I put the stick into my computer, it's a plug and play so it installs immediately. I bring up google and I get a screen in Spanish, that I am sure says I have no time left. is supposed to come with a free month. What could this be? I'm too tired, exhausted in fact, but I figure I will go ask the English speaking man at the front desk.

He takes one look at it and says "yikes, I don't know anything about wifi..let me call someone who does". I said "no no, I just need you to read this to me, so I am sure I understand". Nope, he has to call the other fellow.

The other fellow comes to have a look and says "You must take this back to the store and tell them they have made a mistake". You should have a free month.

I said "I am way too tired, way too sore...I would rather just buy time and chalk it up to inexperience and my lack of Spanish skills". After much more back and forth (because he thinks I'm crazy to want to just buy more time), he finally reads to me what the screen says. It gives me 4 I thought. I could purchase time online, I could go to the bank, I could go back to Telcel, I could buy from a store.

First I tried to buy it online, but it would not accept my credit card. By this time, Gerry is up again and he remembers that there was an OXXO just around the corner, we could walk there. We walk over to the OXXO, and they do not sell Telcel time. However, they thought there was a Telcel store just around the corner. Oh no...not again.

Gerry and I walk outside the store and I see an ATM. I said "didn't the lady at Telcel say we could purchase time from any ATM?" Gerry was pretty sure I was right. Into the ATM booth we go. Sure enough, purchasing time for Telcel was one of the options!!!!

I put in my card, answer all the questions, then it asks me for my telcel number...of which I did not have with me. I did however write it down when I installed we walk back to the RV campground. We find the piece of paper I wrote it on, and take it back to the ATM machine. I key in everything just as I have it written down, but it won't accept it. I think it is telling me that the number was not activated. I decide that I must have written it down wrong, perhaps I transposed the numbers. hmmmm.....back to the campground we go. The number I had written down was correct. what? By now, I am too exhausted for words. I refuse to give it another thought on Wednesday, we will take a cab back to Telcel on Thursday. We are told that Telcel opens at 8:30 a.m.

I am so exhausted I pass out by 8:00 p.m. and sleep until 7:45 on Thursday.

ok, we take a cab over and come back to the campground and stay another day....or do we just pack up and stop at Telcel on our way to the coast? We packed up.

We get to the mall at 9:30. Telcel isn't open and doesn't have a sign telling us the hours of operation. We asked a police officer who told us it opens at 10:00 a.m. Well, the grocery store where we bought it was open, so we decided to see if we could buy time for it from them. Sure enough we could. There was another English speaking man who was very helpful. He explained that you had to have a Mexican bank account in order to buy it from the ATM.

You buy the time, and they apply it to your wifi stick right then and there. Back we went to Myrtle to test it out before we head off to the coast. ummmm.....nope....the same screen comes up that came up before telling me that I had no time on my wifi.

Ok, no worries, we can go sit in Myrtle in the parking lot, have a coffee, relax, wait for Telcel to open.

At 10:00 a.m., Telcel opened up just as the officer said it would. The very nice salesman who happened to speak English explained that the store we bought it from was supposed to activate it for us as a part of the sales transaction. In fact, it does come with a free month, but no worries that we bought another months worth, it would be available for us when our first month expired. I said "Great! Ok, can you activate this for us? I have the receipts here". Nope.

Only the store you bought it from can activate it. Ok...back to the grocery store.

No one is around who can speak English. Fortunately, I had the foresight to ask the gentleman in Telcel to write down instructions in Spanish for me.

A half an hour later, after several phone calls, much ado....a lady who speaks English finally arrives. Evidently, they had figured out what to do....the person who works the electronics desk wasn't there, and the women who sold us the stick had no idea she had to activate it. No worries, it is activated now....but because it wasn't activated at the time of sale, they had to do some work-arounds and it might take 24 hours before it will work. huh?

24 hours? What if it doesn't work? In 24 hours we will be in Aticam.a..a 4 hour drive from there. hmmmm.....well, can we at least return the extra month we just purchased...just in case it doesn't work? Oh yes, no problem.

Well, about 10 minutes later, after listening to three people at the cashier discussing just how to do a refund on wifi time....I just thanked them profusely and said I would keep it.

We get to Aticama, plug in the Telcel stick...and it says "No service". lmao. It finally worked, but there is no Telcel service in the area???? No worries, the campground we are in has is just very weak.

This morning I got up and tried the Telcel worked....very weak...for a few minutes.....

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