Visiting Costa Rica

Just wanted to give you all a little advice if you are planning on visiting this beautiful country.  For starters, the customs agents really don’t speak English so be prepared.  When you come through the gate they are going to ask you how long you plan to stay here.  Learn how to say that in Spanish.  They may also ask to see proof of your return ticket.  If you don’t have it, they can very easily not let you in the country.  So print out a copy of your purchased ticket and have it ready just in case.  Getting through the screening process is very easy.  You just put everything on a conveyor belt and they send it through the x-ray machine.  They don’t use body scanners down here either, but everyone seem to have a small hand held metal detector.  There is a place right there by the baggage claim where you can exchange American dollars for Costa Rican Colones, but I don’t know what they charge there.  You will be better off finding a Banco National or Banco de Costa Rica (BCR).  You will have to have your passport ready to exchange money.  Not all American cell phones will work here either.  You will need to check with your provider and see what kind of fees they charge also for using your phone here.  I recommend renting a cheap pre-paid phone for your trip.  When renting a car, be sure to get one with GPS, roads aren’t always marked that well.  Also, rent something durable, the roads aren’t always in great shape.  Bring a pocket Spanish/English dictionary if you don’t know Spanish.  You will need it.  Mine is falling apart, but I still use it.  Always be polite and thank everyone you meet.  It is a very friendly country here.  Everyone is usually very patient as well and will do their best to help you if you need it and ask politely.  I know many of us who took Spanish in high  school learned to say thank you by saying de nada.  Well, they don’t use that here very often, they use the phrase, con gusto, which means with pleasure.   I like it better.  When you get out of the airport there will be a lot of taxis if you need one.  Only use the official taxis when in the big cities.  They are red with a yellow triangle on the side.  If they tell you the meter is not working they are lying and get a different taxi.  They will try to price gouge you.  Many of them will take American dollars if you don’t have any colones, just learn how to convert the money. It’s really easy, every 500 Colones is one dollar.  So, if something is marked 15,000 Colones, it’s about $30.  Just multiply the first two number by 2.  I hope this helps.  If you all have any questions just leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Recovery

Let me tell you.  I have the most amazing husband in the world and the most amazing neighbors too.  I have been home now for a week today and have had many problems with the recovery from this surgery.  Last Monday I ended up in another ambulance as I woke up from my nap in a pool of drainage.  My husband helped me to the bathroom to try to get cleaned up, while sitting there I passed out on him.  I wasn’t out but for a few seconds.  I told him to go get our neighbor, she told me that her son had the same surgery done before.  She came over and was able to call an ambulance for me and they got me to the emergency clinic.  Some how or another I had a nasty infection going on.  Well, they drained out as much as they could, switched my antibiotics and home I went.  The doctor and nurse there were absolutely wonderful again.  The nurse kept me talking the whole time to keep my mind occupied.  Luckily, my Spanish has improved.  I have had the drainage happen to me a couple of more times, but it is getting less and less.  I got my stitches out last Friday, they do not use the dissolving stitches here.  I was happy to have those out.

Everyday, my neighbor, Doris, has brought me over something to eat.  Everything from soup to Jell-O.  She comes over everyday to check on me and to see how I am doing.  I have never had such good and caring neighbors.  They truly are wonderful people.  I hate being stuck at home like this, the only place I have been for the past week has been to the clinic, so I am starting to get a little stir crazy.  I can’t wait to heal so I can at least go for a walk.

My husband is truly amazing and I feel so blessed to have him.  He has done everything under the stars for me.  He has helped with washing my back, done all the laundry, cooking and cleaning.  Today he went above and beyond duty and shaved my legs for me and he didn’t even nick me!  He is an amazing man.  I don’t know where I would be without him right now.  So, it looks like I still have a long road ahead of me, the incision was close to four inches long and I am still having some pain from it.  But with the help of my hubby and everyone else, I am doing great.  I am just glad that I can still go sit outside and enjoy the breeze and fresh air.  Glad it is warm here.  In the evening I can still see the stars and enjoy it.  I refuse to let this depress me, just like with my back problems.  I would just love to take a small trip to town to get out of the house!  Hopefully soon.

Appendicitis in Paradise

hospital view

Well, here you go.  This is me.  I will start off on telling you why I have a shaved head.  My best friend in the States is going through chemotherapy and has lost all of her hair.  So, I did it in support of her.

It started on Saturday the 26th, the day after my husbands birthday.  I had a little pain that just felt like gas; didn’t think much of it until I got up Sunday morning and the pain had moved and gotten a lot worse.  I tried to wait it out until Monday morning to see my doctor.  That didn’t happen.  I ended up in an ambulance at 4am.  They took me to the emergency clinic and then immediately to the hospital.  I got to the hospital at 6:30am, it’s a long way.  They did blood work and an urinalysis.  Everything came back fine.  So, I waited and they did an x-ray that afternoon.  The x-ray was fine.  Finally, about 10pm, they did an ultrasound.  Five minutes after having the ultrasound done they were prepping me for surgery.  I don’t blame them at all for taking so long to figure out that it actually was an appendicitis; after all the previous tests were fine.  Only problem was that it ended up rupturing.  So, I ended up spending a total of 6 days in the hospital.

Believe it or not, I actually had an enjoyable stay in the hospital.  There some very good things and some not so great ones.  If you have to have an extended stay here in the hospital, I hope you like white rice because you will be eating a lot of it.  The only problems I really had the whole time was an allergic reaction to a pain medication, which I didn’t even know I was allergic to, not their fault.  Also, they served fish one night and I know I told them I was allergic to fish, so some one just didn’t get the memo in the kitchen.  I ended up losing about 3 pounds just due to the fact that I couldn’t eat that much rice!

The good things.  The amazing view I had from my hospital bed, you couldn’t get that view from a five star hotel!  At night it was just amazing.  The nurses were wonderful!  The doctors too.  The nurses do not have CNAs that work for them so they do everything themselves.  They were always smiling and laughing.  I was in a room with five other women and we had a great time and my Spanish improved a lot in these past six days.  The doctors would visit several times a day and were always willing to help you out and answer any questions, they were even smiling all the time.  I feel really bad for the nurses here.  They work so hard and actually do a lot more work than the nurses in the States.  And before anyone would like to correct me on that, I have worked as a CNA and an MA, so I know.  They are on salary here and make about $800 per month!  I know the cost of living here is lower, but when you are in the bigger cities, it is not much lower.

I pay just under $40 a month for my health insurance here and that is full coverage.  There are no co-pays or deductibles.  So, the whole time I was in the hospital, all the test, my medicine, the surgery, everything was covered.  I do NOT have to pay anything out of pocket!  To me that is amazing.