01 Feb

The TV Saga

Ok. So first off, I need to make public the somewhat embarrassing fact that I brought the xbox back here to Ecuador after our Christmas break return home. When we moved in, our landlords had told us that they would provide us with a TV if we wanted one. We never really pursued it. We weren’t all that interested. But then, of course, before Christmas, with the prospect of going home and coming back with the xbox, I asked Luis if, when we got back in January, we could borrow a TV. “Claro!” he said. I whispered “sweet!” as I walked away and I made the fist of victory.

We returned in early January and I mustered up the courage to ask about the TV the day after we got back. Our landlords have six TVs. There is a 30-some incher in the parents’ bedroom. In the hallway-esque area between the parents’ room and the daughter’s room, there is another 27 incher. It is literally four feet from the one in the parents’ room; the two are separated by a wall. Then there’s a fourteen inch TV in the kitchen, a slightly smaller but black and white one in the study room, a 20-some inch one in the living room, and a puny little 5-inch black and white one in the daughter’s room. Indeed, the only room in the house without a TV is the son’s bedroom. Guess what TV I got. Yep. The 5 inch black and white one.

For the past month, we’ve been squinting as we watched the occasional Simpson’s episode and Napoleon Dynamite on the little guy. I limited my video game playing to only those games that were visible enough, and even then I sometimes had to be about 12 inches from the screen to see it. The scheming began. Despite Eileen’s very rational objections to spending over $100 on a 14 inch color TV, I started investigating. Plan one: find out if there were any TVs in Quito for a discounted price. They may exist, but they’re not very easy to find. I enlisted the help of some of my students in my research; one day, I even got a ride to some so-called discount stores in the southern end of Quito. Nothing. Plan two: buy a new one and sell it for 70 – 80% of its original price this summer. Multiple Ecua-sources indicated such an endeavor would be possible. So I resolved to carry it out soon.

First, though, I figured it would be smart to mention the plan to the landlord in the hopes that at the very least he could give me a ride to the store. Well, instead, he suggested I have someone buy a TV for me in the states and then ship it. It’s expensive to ship such things, I explained. No, he said, ship it through American Airlines. It’s cheap. A friend of mine did it once for 20 bucks. In fact, get us a little 9-inch color TV and have it shipped and we’ll pay you back. We’ll lend you our 20-some inch color TV if you get us a TV.

Ok. Let’s pause and review. The offer from my landlord was this: we’ll pay the cost of the TV and the shipping and we’ll lend you one of our color TVs if you find the new TV and arrange for its delivery. I accepted the offer.

Unfortunately, in my internet investigation, I found out there is not much of a market for 9-inch color TVs unless they’re flat screen and they fold down from, say, under the kitchen counters. I made note of a few smaller color TVs, including some TV/DVD combos which I hoped might be enticing, but I grew a little despondent knowing that a) the cheapest TV I had made note of was $120 and b) the American Airlines thing was a bust; to ship something weighing 1-11 kgs costs $75. Ouch.

I presented my findings to Luis et al, and they decided upon the $160 9-inch, flat screen TV/DVD combo from Wal-Mart. I said I’d look into a friend or family member bringing it to us when they came to visit. He said ok. I said bueno. He gave me the 14 inch color TV from their kitchen.

Eileen and I watched Mulan in full color (and in Spanish); then we surfed the channels (there were only about 7 or so on the little black and white, but this one has about 15), eventually landing on some music-video station. Next, we watched half of Napoleon Dynamite in color, the whole time marveling at the fact that the van was orange and not brown or tan.

And so ends the TV saga. The only remaining question is, who will bring us the landlords’ Wal-Mart TV?

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