Sunday, March 28, 2010

2 savvy geeks fix my iPhone in 45 mins for $55

While working here in Puebla, Mexico, I dropped my iPhone for the umpteenth time, this time on a stone floor.

The screen was lit up but with no image. The phone couldn´t be turned off. The normal routine for resetting -- hold down the sleep button and the home button at the same time for 10 seconds -- didn´t work. Restoring the factory settings through my Mac didn´t work.

After asking around, I heard about a place called the Plaza of Technology. It´s kind of an indoor mall, with narrow passageways and maybe a hundred tiny stands where you can buy computers, cellphones and other gadgets and get them repaired.

I walk up to the first stand and asked where I might get an iPhone repaired. The guy leads me through the narrow passages between stands, up two flights of stairs and around some corners.

We present the phone to another young guy (in glasses at left) who is chatting with an older man in a Pumas shirt and ball cap. I describe the accident and the symptoms. He asks some questions. He gets the Pumas fan to dial my phone number. It rings.

-- The screen needs to be replaced, he announces.
-- How much?
-- 700 pesos ($55).
-- How long will it take?
-- 40 minutes.

I´m desperate. My virtual life is lived through that phone. Returning it to a Mac factory is out of the question. I´m too impatient to look for the Mac store and it´s 6 p.m. on a Saturday.

I´ve had other small items repaired cheaply (a digital watch) in Latin America, where repairmen still exist. They don´t all have 401k programs and kids in private schools, so fixing stuff is a decent way to make a living.

-- OK. Let´s do it.

We snake through the passages to his little stand, which is littered with the carcasses and bones of dozens of cell phones. Evidently they are the replacement parts.

He removes the Telcel chip from my phone, says, "Hold this," and disappears. He returns with the phone in two pieces and proceeds to do some diagnostics.

The whole time he is working, he is answering questions of people who approach the stand, putting down my phone to do diagnostics for other potential clients, and finding spare parts for other technicians.

He can´t figure it out. He hands it off to his colleague Josué (at left).

Josué has me a bit worried when he tries and fails a half-dozen times to insert the replacement screen into the housing. He keeps putting down my phone to look for stuff for other technicians. Two of his buddies, seated outside the stand, offer commentary.

Josué is not working in a sanitized clean room. He rubs parts on his pants and sweatshirt. He is using a lot of muscle and pointy tools to wedge the piece in. Factory authorized parts? Who knows. Will dust or grit mess up the phone?

Finally he snaps it together, lights up the screen with the familiar icons and I test it. It works. It´s taken less than an hour. I use the iPhone to take pictures of my two heroes. They have saved my pathetic virtual life.

This practice, the Mac people will surely say, is not recommended. But it was cheap and fast and it worked. At least for now.

Folk dancing celebrates Mexico´s 1910 Revolution

This selection of 90 seconds will give you some idea of the folk dancing competition among secondary schools that we saw while we were in Puebla.

Because the dances were celebrating the Mexican Revolution of 1910, guns figure prominently among the props. In contrast with the popular dances of the gun-toting revolutionaries, the formal dances celebrate the elite class that ruled during the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, whose government the Revolution replaced.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Visit to beaches at Mazatlán, colonial heartland in San Miguel de Allende

My sister Nancy and her husband, Tom Lukens, came down to visit us in Guadalajara for almost two weeks at the end of February. We went west to the coast and Mazatlán for one weekend, and spent another weekend in San Miguel de Allende, which has lovely colonial architecture and has become a haven for American retirees. The photos above are from an indigenous dance festival that was taking place in San Miguel when we arrived.

The neo-Gothic church in San Miguel is impressive. You find yourself wanting to take pictures of it from every angle.

Tom posed among pots in San Miguel.

Cindy at the ruins in Ixtlán del Río, a ceremonial site founded about 800 years ago by a group related to the Aztecs. The round building was dedicated to the sun and the moon. Ixtlán means "Place of Obsidian," which is a volcanic glass used for jewelry, knives and other tools. More pictures of the site are here.

View Tom and Nancy´s visit in a larger mapHere´s a map of our itinerary, which started in Guadalajara.

Cindy and Nancy on the rooftop of a hotel in Mazatlán. Supposedly Gary Cooper stayed at this hotel while shooting movies nearby. John Wayne had a house here.


View from our hotel in Mazatlán.

Tlaquepaque is a kind of artsy town in the Guadalajara metro area. Lots of great restaurants and stuff to buy and lug home.

Here we are in a park in Guadalajara.