Here is a little advice that I have for everyone who is either planning on visiting or planning on moving here. Some of this should be considered no matter where you live or visit.
My husband and I were down at the clinic the other day waiting on some prescriptions to be filled. While we were sitting there the ambulance pulled up and they brought in a woman on a stretcher. I overheard the EMT say that they needed a doctor that speaks English. Well, I am no doctor but I do have a medical degree and could at least interpret a little for them. We do actually have a doctor at our little clinic that speaks some English. The woman was hurt pretty bad, she had been thrown from a horse. Neither her, her children, or her husband knew any Spanish! You should at least know a few basic phrases in case of an emergency. You should be able to tell them how old you are, your date of birth, your name, if you have any allergies, and if you have any medical conditions. If you want, you could always write these down on a card and keep it with you at all times, and make sure it is in the language of the country you are visiting. This way, if you are conscious, you can just hand them the card. If you have someone with you, let them know where you are keeping the card. If you are not conscious, hopefully they will find it. This is really good also for any country you are visiting that speaks a different language. Also, for your date of birth, do not write it in numbers as the rest of the world writes it day/month/year; always write out the month. I do hope the woman is OK, she hurt her hip really bad and had to be transported for x-rays. Luckily they did have travelers insurance. Medical care is very inexpensive here and if it something small, like only stitches, just pay out of pocket.
Now for my next piece of advice.
Always keep water on hand. Keep bottles of it. We have two 6 liter jugs and several one liter bottles under the sink. We also keep two liter bottles outside that is non-potable. Costa Rica is a very high earthquake zone for one thing. Also, we have lots of mudslides in the rainy season. These two things can cause a water main to break that can take a while to get fixed. It’s a matter of being able to access the water pipes in order to fix them. If there is a mudslide, it can take a while to be able to reach the pipe to replace it. Same with an earthquake. After 36 hours of having no water at my house, it was wonderful to hear it coming through the pipes again. We had a water main break before our aqueducts and our entire water supply was contaminated. They had to completely clean out the tanks. Those poor guys worked around the clock to get the job done.
Situations like the one we had can happen anywhere, anytime. Any natural disaster can cut off your water supply. Always keep some on hand. One thing to remember with bottled water, it can grown bacteria. This is why you see expiration dates on bottles of water. If you have water in bottles that have already been opened, boil it before use. It needs to come to a complete boil for at least one minute.
What we call brown water. This is water that is non-potable. We keep a lot of this water around to be able to flush the toilet. The best way to flush a toilet when you have no running water is to fill up a bucket and then dump it down the bowl. Also, don’t do that every time you go to the bathroom otherwise you will run out of water quickly.
I know to a lot of you this sounds pretty gross or you think you could never do this. But you adapt and learn. That is what life is about; learning. I live in the country so this happens a little more often to us than those in the city. But certain cities get put on water hours during the dry season due to lack of rain. Water hours is when your water is cut off completely for certain hours of the day. Now, the area I live in is very wet, even during the dry season and I love it here.
For those of us with pets, don’t forget about them. You should make sure that you have enough water for them as well during an emergency.
The purpose of this post was to be informative and educational. This is not just about Costa Rica, but advice for anywhere you live or travel to. Always be prepared. Until Mañana, Pura vida!