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Your phone is out of credit, there’s not a public phone in sight and you need to make a call. It’s urgent too, obviously. What to do?

Well, lucky for you, if you’re living in Colombia and have some spare change in your pocket you’re bound to come across someone with a mobile phone selling their minutes.

Sounds curious, no? Not at all. This is serious business.

I’ve frequently come across people who have anywhere between five and 10 phones chained to a poll on a busy road. There will be three to five people at a time making quick telephone calls from these chained mobile setups.

My friend asked me the other day, “can you buy minutes in the street in Brisbane like we do here?” Nope, that’s one thing you won’t see.

“So what happens if you run out of credit and you need to make a call?” He asked.

I guess we just use public phones.

But here, if you need something, you will find it and fast. Gaps in the market are spotted and makeshift business are created. If you need to make a phone call, there is someone within about fifty paces who can make it happen. It’s like magic.

I almost never have minutes on my phone, so this has definitely come in handy for me. And after a while of living in Colombia you just expect there to be someone selling minutes on every other street corner.