Life in general

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything.  So, I will try to update now.

Yesterday we had a guy show up at our gate asking about the house across the street, it’s vacant now.  I used to have the woman’s phone number but couldn’t find it anymore.  There is another house down the street that is vacant also and is a little bigger.  It took us a while, talking with our neighbor, and a few phone calls, but we finally got the number for the house down the road.  It’s a small Tico style house with two bedrooms and a big kitchen, going for 60,000 colones a month.  The house across the street, we finally found out is no longer being rented but they want to sell it for 15 million colones; I wouldn’t give you 5 million for it.  It’s in really rough shape.  We bought our house just four years ago and only paid 15 million for ours and we have three bedrooms.  I wonder what our house would go for now with all the work we have done to it?  The house across the street was being rented for 45,000 colones per month, the guy told us that the same house in San Jose would go for around 150,000; I about fell out of my hammock.

Anyways, about the guy.  He had been in our town for about three days and working in the pineapple fields, which is really hard work.  His family lives in San Jose and he is trying to get them out of there and bring them up here.  He said his neighborhood is very dangerous and wants them to be safe.  He is only 21 and has three kids, he started early.  But I can tell you that he does want to provide for his family, so much so that he resorted to sleeping on the streets just so he could work up here.  He said he couldn’t find a job where he lives.  Everything he has made he has sent back to his family in the city.  He was here for a while, we made him a sandwich and had some coffee.  (We didn’t let him in the house though.)  He was very polite and I really felt sorry for him.  My husband did take him to town to write down numbers off the signs for other houses to rent, and we let him charge his cell phone here.  I guess today he is working.  I just hope that everything works out for him and his family.

We headed over to a friends house after that, I had some things that I needed to return.  Turns out that one of our friends had broken several toes and another bone in his foot.  Poor guy is on crutches now.  Today we took him over my crutches to use because they are much lighter than the wood ones.  We let them know that if they need to go anywhere to just call us, he is the only one with a license in the family and he can’t drive now.

Friday, my cleaning lady never showed up.  We waited and waited.  This was very unusual for her, she always let me know if she wasn’t going to make it before.  Turns out she was babysitting for her neighbors.  So she showed up Saturday but I had an appointment for another ultrasound for my thyroid.  I told her not to worry about it.

I went for my ultrasound at another clinic I found that was a lot closer to where I live and a lot cheaper.  I had been noticing what felt like another lump in my thyroid, but this time on the right side.  Turns out I was right, I now have another tumor in it.  This makes three now.  But they are all still pretty small, just bothersome.  If I talk a lot my voice starts to go hoarse.  One of my friends was joking with me today and said that makes me the perfect woman.  I couldn’t help but laugh and I know that he was only kidding with me.  After all, I had been picking on him for breaking his toes playing soccer.  He is like a brother to me.

As for the area I live in, Sarapiqui, it has been extremely hot here these past few weeks.  It has been getting into the upper 90’s, which is unusual for here.  Even the locals are in disbelief at how hot it’s been.  We haven’t been getting the rain like we normally do this time of year either.  It’s made it difficult to cook or bake anything in the house as we don’t have A/C.  When it does rain I may just run outside and dance in it.  The little beach areas at the river have been packed on the weekends with everyone trying to cool off.  I looked at it today and was very tempted to go home, put on some swimming clothes and jump in.  I haven’t been down there in a while.  I really feel sorry for my cats and dogs though, it’s almost impossible for them to cool off.

I did start painting again, but now I am out of canvas.  I did a geometric design in oil and an abstract in acrylic.  Looks like I will have to keep painting in acrylic because I can’t find oils where I live.  Acrylic is easy to clean up though too, plus you don’t get the smell from the oil or the paint thinner.  Would like to sell them to help cover the costs of a few things.  (Like saving up for surgery.)  In order to keep painting though I will need to take another drive to Guapiles, which is about an hour away, to get more canvas.  It’s a heck of a lot cheaper there compared to what I found here.  I can get it for 1,000 in Guapiles and around here it’s over 3,500 for the exact same size.

Well, that’s what’s been going on in my little corner of Costa Rica.  Not much really.  We have been to a couple of get-togethers with friends and met some more wonderful people.  It’s very relaxing here and I have started reading another John Grisham novel.  We are trying not to do a whole lot because we don’t know how much my surgery will be, we will be self paying for it.  Until Mañana, Pura Vida!






Well I finally went and saw an endocrinologist today.  He was a very nice doctor at Hospital Clinica Biblica.  He went over everything with me and spoke really good English.  He was really surprised that my public doctor wanted me to have the biopsy done with how small the tumor is, but he stated that it was a very good thing that she had me do it.  There are some cells in the biopsy that are very questionable at this point.  Basically, it is a 50/50 chance that it could still be cancerous.  He knows the doctor very well that did the lab work for the biopsy and was surprised to see him even give the recommendation to have it surgically biopsied.  He said this is very unusual at this stage.  He doesn’t want to jump right in and do surgery on me; especially with how many I have had done already.  I went over my surgeries with him and I thought he was going to fall out of his chair as I went down the list.

Three eye surgeries, Tonsils and adenoids; plus a cyst that was found, Wisdom teeth, gall bladder, appendix, bilateral lipomas four times, sinus surgery three times, plus countless removals of cysts.  I think I am trying to see what all I can live without.  And that is not even the complete list of stuff done.

So, I have a list of blood work that needs to get done.  I will be having that done through the public system as it doesn’t take too long to get the appointment and get the results back.  Then next month my specialist wants me to have the ultrasound done again.  He said I can e-mail him all the test results and if I have any questions I can e-mail him anytime.  My next appointment with him is in June, if all the test results are fine.  If things change I will probably be going to see him sooner.

He has ordered me to relax, no exceptions!  He said if it is cancerous I still don’t need to worry because it is easily treatable.  I know that it is, but it still makes me worry.  The doctor spent a very long time with me today and made sure that I understood everything.  Total cost of today’s appointment, with no insurance, was under $100 and this was at one of the best hospitals in the country.  He didn’t order any unnecessary tests, or prescribe any unnecessary medication.  He is taking it one step at a time to make sure that surgery is the last option.  I like this.

Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Wedding with Friends

Yesterday my husband and I had our wedding here in Costa Rica.  It was amazing.  We never had a wedding before, we went to Las Vegas and got married.  We took turns driving from Cincinnati and drove straight through; it was 2,000 miles and took 30 hours.  We drove there and back.  I figure if we can spend a total of 60 hours in a vehicle together and not want to kill each other, then we were made for one another.  I tried planning a wedding back then, but it wasn’t going very well.  I had called up my father to ask him to walk me down the aisle and he said, “Why don’t you just go to the justice of the peace and get married?”  Needless to say I was pretty heartbroken.  So, we ended up in Las Vegas.  That was 11 years ago.

Now, with the new law here in Costa Rica you have to produce a new, notarized, apostiled, and translated marriage certificate that is not more than 30 days old when you go to renew your carnet.  My husband and I live in a pretty small town of around 8,000 people.  We got our new residency cards last month, it took us a full 30 days for them to come in.  Then we went to renew our carnets, we did not have the marriage certificate, but they didn’t even ask for it.  I am not sure if it just because they know us or what.  But it never came up and we weren’t going to bring it up.  But we still had our wedding and got remarried.

It was a beautiful day yesterday, even though it was really hot and humid; at least it didn’t rain!  We only had about 20 people there, which was perfect for us.  We had traditional Costa Rican food that was all homemade by our friends.  I did buy a beautiful three tier cake though, which was quit difficult to get it to the wedding.  We held the wedding at one of our friends houses, they live on a big property  not far from our house.  (We actually used to rent one of the houses on the property.)  My friend asked me a few days before the wedding about decorations.  I told her that it wasn’t important to me, just having our friends there is what really mattered.  I did buy some balloons though to have put out so people could find the place.  When we got there they had the place looking so beautiful for us.  They got a tent for outside, put fresh flowers up everywhere, got tables with really nice tablecloths, and had flowers on those too.  I was so overwhelmed.  I just wasn’t expecting all of that, I got teary eyed.

I got to finally toss the bouquet, I always wanted to.  My husband and I had our dance, Phil Collins-Groovy kind of love.  There wasn’t any rum left over.  These people here have become my family.  It was a beautiful day with beautiful people and I don’t think I could have been happier.  I was so nervous beforehand.  But it was very relaxing and really stress free.  Everyone was smiling, laughing, and having a great time.  I’m glad we had a wedding here with close friends.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day.  Until mañana, Pura vida!




Helping Neighbors

I am not writing this just to get people to think I am a good person.  I am writing this to encourage people to pay it forward.

When we moved here almost five years ago we rented a fully furnished house, if you could call it that.  We stayed in that house for three months and came to realize that the person we were renting from was pretty much crazy.  She was also a control freak.  Our house and her house were on the same property and she was not taking care of the property like she said she would in the contract.  The only things we brought with us were clothes, a few personal items, and two cats.  We had absolutely no furniture.  But we had to get out of that house and away from her.

We met a nice lady from Germany who had property about a 30 minute drive from where we originally at.  There were a total of three houses on the property; her’s, a nice Tico family who cared for the property, and another house.  We decided to go and have a look at the house.  It was a cute house, kind of in the jungle and very peaceful.  There were a couple of tables in the house that we could use, a couple of stools, and a couple of office chairs with the backs missing.  We had also bought two plastic chairs at a supermarket one day and took them to the new house.  We pretty much had nothing.  No plates, silverware, stove, cookware, bed, glasses, or anything else.  There was another nice family that we had met while living in the first house; they were from South Africa.  They loaned us so many things and gave us a lot of stuff.  They gave us plates, silverware, a couple of cooking pots, a small folding table, and a mattress; they also loaned us a washing machine.  One thing that we were definitely missing was a refrigerator.  We went three months without one.  We borrowed a cooler and traded out ice bottles with the Tico family living next to us.  Everyday I would go over there and exchange the bottles and they would let me keep meat in the freezer until I needed it.  This family has become like family to us.  It was kind of sad when we moved out and bought a house of our own.  But we still see them often, this is actually where we are having our wedding at.

My neighbor across the street was gone for many months taking care of her sister.  She would come back and bring stuff back to the house but would never stay.  During the time that she was gone her utilities got shut off.  I am not sure if it was just because she could not pay them with where she was at or what.  Her sister passed away last week and she has been here ever since with her brother.  She came over the other day asking if she could get a few big rocks out of our yard.  (We had plenty left over from the fence building we just got done.)  Turns out she is using the rocks for a fire pit in her back yard to do some cooking on.  But I thought about it for a minute and realized that she had no way to keep anything cold.  My husband and I had bought a cooler not that long ago, we hadn’t even used it yet.  So we decided to ask her if she wanted to borrow it.  I already had a bottle of ice in the freezer, I always keep one there in case the power goes out.  She was so happy with the cooler and ice.  Yesterday when I took a new bottle over she gave me a t-shirt for my husband, it’s really awesome.  We definitely weren’t expecting anything in return, after all someone had done this for us.  Then later last night she brought over some ice cream and a fresh pineapple thanking us again.  It’s so sweet.  I did tell her that someone had done this for us before and I know how it is.  We charged up a couple of flashlights for her also.

I just feel this is how neighbors should treat each other.  With respect and helping each other out in a time of need.  We have some really good people in our neighborhood, all Ticos except us.  I love the small town feel and how good people are to each other here.  Kind of like when I had my surgery, my other neighbor brought me over something to eat everyday for a week.  That is usually something reserved for family.  I love it here and don’t want to be anywhere else.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Nicaragua Border Crossing

First I am going to tell you step by step about the border crossing.  We went through by Los Chiles.

I would recommend paying your exit tax before getting to the border, it is much easier and it was $9.  There is a place to pay it in Los Chiles next to the bus terminal which is across the street from Gollo, it is at a little soda.  You can pay it at the border, but it is done at a machine, which is similar to an ATM machine, and it will be the same as doing a cash advance on your bank or credit card.  I know many banks charge an extra fee for this and you cannot get money out of this machine.   When you go up to the office there is a tent outside with a table and a couple of border police there.  You need to show them your passport, they will write down your name and passport number.  You will need to fill out the form for leaving, make sure to take a pen with you.  Next you will go to a window marked “Salida”, this is for leaving Costa Rica.  There you show them your exit tax form and the form you filled out inside the building.  After that you will proceed to the border.  There is another tent with two border police at it, you need to show your passport again here.  After that you can finally get to the Nicaragua border.  You walk through a gate and show your passport to the guard.  You continue up to the building where there is another tent with a table and some more border police, again you must show your passport and you will need to fill out a form for entering Nicaragua, it is the exact same form that you filled out for leaving Costa Rica.  (Get used to filling this form out)  Next you will pay your entrance fee for Nicaragua, $12.  Now you can finally be on your way.  It is the exact same procedure for leaving Nicaragua, the exit tax is $2.

I would recommend having local currency for Nicaragua, it would have really made things a lot easier there.  I was told to bring US dollars and that is what I did, so everywhere we went it was a matter of pulling out the calculator or phone to do the conversion.  There are vans at this border crossing now and they will take you to San Carlos, Nicaragua for $3 or 70 Cordobas.  $3 is more than 70 Cordobas.  The ride up there took us about 40 minutes.  They dropped us off and told us that they would be running about every 30 minutes, this is not entirely true, they run when they have a full van.  Remember that the border does close at 4pm.

The lake and water front was very beautiful.  The breeze was very strong, but the heat was unbearable.   Even in the shade it was ungodly hot with the breeze.  We did have a nice lunch for cheap and picked up a few items.  My friends got some alcohol and some gifts for family.  I got my husband a wooden hand painted turtle, and I got myself some ibuprofen.  I know it sounds weird, but it was extremely cheap there.  I didn’t like the market, it was too dark and dingy for me and it seemed that all the stuff was of really low quality.  Then there were the guys walking around selling jewelry and belts,  and no matter how many times you said no if they seen you again they would still ask.  I had one guy shoving spices in my face.  I really didn’t like it there.  I am thankful for the experience though.  I am not judging all of Nicaragua based on this one experience in this one town.  I have heard that other towns are very nice and would possibly like to visit those someday.  But if you have to do a border crossing to renew your visa, this one is very easy to do.  Just cross over, take the van, and then grab some lunch and come back.

This is the soda in Los Chiles where you can pay your exit tax.


My Average Day

People ask me a lot of times what I do.  Well, not much really.  I have a normal morning routine that I follow.  My husband usually gets up before me and brings me a cup of coffee while I am still in bed.  He is so sweet.  I take a few sips and hand him the cup back and then put on my sandals and follow him out to the patio.  We have our morning coffee and listen and watch all the birds.  This morning I was listening to the toucans off in the distance and some other small birds in the trees next to the house.  Just a little bit ago I saw a brown Basilisk  lizard running through the yard and our small dog started chasing it.  After about three cups of coffee I make my way inside to change clothes, then I put the dishes away, brush my teeth, and clean the litter box.  Somewhere in there I usually have a bowl of cereal.  I love Fruit Loops, but of course we buy the local brand.  From there I check my e-mail and messages.  Check my Facebook and read a lot of news.  Then I do whatever I want.  Also, through-out the day my husband and I also take turns walking the dog.

I had a friend stop by this morning, she helped me again by calling my private clinic to see how much a biopsy of my tumor would cost; about $250.  I wasn’t expecting it to be that much.  She is going to call around to some other clinics that she knows of to see if she can find it cheaper.  I just really want to know if this thing is cancerous or not.  I went a few days without feeling it at all, but the past two days it has really been bothering me.  It feels like I have something stuck in my throat that just won’t go away.  I can feel pressure on the front of my throat, like someone pushing in on it with their thumb.  Not a good feeling at all.  We are still waiting for the test results of the blood test, hopefully I will have them by next week.

As of right now, the weather is beautiful.  upper 80’s and a nice breeze with sunny skies.  It is a lot better than the rain we had been having.  My husband was actually able to get the gutters cleaned out this morning.  He has gone for his walk, something he loves to do.  It keeps him active and healthy.  The only other thing I have to do today is laundry.  I am conducting an experiment right now with that.  I am trying to figure out if we have a smart meter, some areas do and some don’t.  So, I have been waiting until the afternoon to do all my laundry. If my utility bill goes down, we have a smart meter.  I am hoping that is the case.  Granted my bill is only $32 a month, but I am frugal.  I am thinking of changing all the light bulbs to LED bulbs next.  They use a lot less electricity than the energy efficient ones.

I did get a message from a friend last night in the States, whom I immediately called.  The State of Ohio finally opened up all adoption records that were sealed before.  I had sent off for my original birth certificate to see if I could find out who my biological father was.  Of course he is not listed on it, I am not surprised by this at all.  I have had health problems since the day I was born.  I would like to know if these are hereditary or not for the sake of my child.  I am thinking of doing a DNA test next, see if I can get anywhere with that.

Well, I need to brush the cats and clean up a few things around the house.  We are still planning our wedding for April.  I got confirmation that we can use the property that we want!  And we are planning a day trip  up to Nicaragua soon also with another friend, not sure if we will go or not as we haven’t got all the details yet.  Lots of planning going on.  So, this is my life here.  Not a whole lot to it, but we love it.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

update 1: Feb 2, 2016

So, I went and had my ultrasound done today at a wonderful clinic in Guapiles.  I walked in and there was basically a hostess.  She greeted me and asked what I was there for and then directed me where to go.  The lady who checked me in was extremely nice to me and giggled when I told her that my Spanish wasn’t that great.  She said I did fine with it.  I paid in advance for the ultrasound, just under $70.  I did not have any private insurance for this.  My husband comes in after parking the car and I sit next to him.  The lady who originally greeted me walked over and asked if we would like any coffee or water.  I forgot my water bottle at home so I definitely needed some.  She brought it to me with a smile.  She was one of those people that had a contagious smile.  I didn’t wait very long and they called my name, always mutilating it here, and took me back to another waiting area.  I sat there for a little while, maybe 30 minutes, and got to go in.  The appointment was set between 11am and 1pm and was a first come first serve basis.  I think I actually got in before 11.

The technician was very nice.  He spoke great English, better than he thinks.  He got me to relax and told me everything that he was doing and when he was doing it.  I did let him know that I do have a medical degree so I am not going to be too surprised by anything he finds.  He did find a couple of things.  There is a tumor that is on the big size and it will have to be biopsied.  He also found a cyst, which I have had a cyst removed in my throat before when I was a teenager.  I asked him straight up on what the chances are on the tumor being cancerous and he told me 50/50.  I can deal with that.  Thyroid cancer is normally a very easy cancer to cure.  There are several different types and if it is cancer we just need to figure out which one it is and go from there.  Tuesday I go for my blood work, I hope I get the same phlebotomist that I had last time, she was great.  I guess I will take the ultrasound results to my doctor either Wednesday or Thursday as I don’t want to go on Monday…that’s my birthday.

On a good note, for those of you that have been following, I found a wedding cake today!  My husband and I are having a wedding here in Costa Rica to renew our vows and to have a marriage certificate for here.  It is a beautiful cake that they can make with purple roses, purple is my favorite color, three tier and under $70.  It’s gorgeous.

I take the good with bad.  I try not to dwell on the bad and I try to celebrate the good.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!


This is the ultrasound machine, made by GE.  Excellent equipment.


Adventures in linving in Costa Rica

It can be an adventure to just live here on a daily basis.  I am not talking about going out and exploring the jungle kind of adventure either.  I am talking about trying to figure out how to get stuff paid kind.  Today was one of those adventures; and a long one too.

We started off going to the clinic to get a prescription filled.  I got the prescription last week and they didn’t have it at my clinic so I had to go to another one to get it.  I went on a Saturday to get it filled.  They wouldn’t fill it on a Saturday because it wasn’t an emergency, they told me I had to come back Monday through Friday.  So, I went today on a Tuesday.  It wasn’t that bad there, I think we only waited 30 minutes and there were a lot of people ahead of me.  So I finally got it and then we decided to go to the bank…that is where the adventure begins.

We get to the bank and take our number.  We note that are number is way down the line.  OK, this could take a while.  It took a very long while.  We waited two hours before being called up to the window!  By this time the husband is getting hungry.  Hungry husband means grumpy husband.  It’s normal and I still love him.  We get to the window and show the guy what we need.  It was written down for us on a piece of paper from the immigration office.  The guy looks at me and has no idea what we need.  I explain the best I can that we need proof that my husband’s pension comes here.  He finally gets it.  I ask him if he can just print out a list of the deposits, nope.  He can only print out all of the transactions.  Freaking really!?  OK, fine.  Print everything out for the past six months and stamp all the pages.  (We used this last time we renewed our residency and they accepted it, we will see if they will accept it again.)  Of course there was a charge for this.  Next, we need to pay for our declaration for our property.  That was actually very easy.  Cost for that was around $5 each.  The guy was very nice to us and felt really bad for how long we waited and apologized.  I was going to ask about doing the online banking, I think you need a special number to be able to do that here, but after being there for two and a half hours I just wanted to leave.  We take our paperwork and leave.  Next stop is the municipality building to file the declaration.

I always forget about having to fill out the one document before turning our paperwork in there.  We get to the front desk, I show the lady the papers and she helps with the other document; she was very nice.  She asked me if we needed to pay and I told I wasn’t sure but I didn’t think so.  She pulls it up on the computer and tells me that we owe for the garbage pick up.  Oh, we’ve never paid it before, but OK.  She told me we owed for the last three months of the year and it was about $16.  OK, not too bad.  So we then go and wait in a very long line where we play musical chairs.  When one person goes up to the counter, we all move forward one seat.  We were waiting in the very back when a lady at the desk looks at my husband and says something along the lines of, “Older gentleman, you are next.”  There actually is a law here that elderly and disabled are supposed to go first.  My husband is 65, so he can go first.  The lady seemed a bit rude at first, but then she lightened up and smiled.  I think she may have been having a bad day, we all were.  She puts everything through and said we were done.  But I had to tell her that we needed to pay for the garbage service.  She seemed surprised that I mentioned it.  She said we could go ahead and pay for all of this year if we wanted as well, another $60.  Why not?  This way we don’t have to worry about it.  Got that paid and we were finally on our way home for a very late lunch and some coffee.

Nothing is easy to do in this country when it comes to property and certain bills.  In many places you will notice that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.  It can be very frustrating at times.  Sometimes it takes multiple trips to different places just to get one thing done.  But it makes you feel very relieved when it is over.

So, be prepared that you may have several people tell you something completely different for the exact same thing.  It happens a lot.  The laws are always changing and everybody may not be completely up to speed on what you need.  Patience goes a long way here, especially with a friendly smile.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

My town

The town I live in is a small town.  I think there is just over 8,000  people here.  I love it, but it is not for everyone.  We are not close to the beach, we do not have a lot of other gringos here.  It’s local, and we like that.

Yesterday when I got up my not-so-smart phone decided to not work.  I did the  normal things; turned it off and on, took out the battery, and so forth.  It still wasn’t working.  So, we go down to our local internet store where my computer guy is.  I show him what the phone is doing and told him what I tried.  I haven’t even had this phone for very long.  He pulls out the SD card for me so it doesn’t get erased and then does a hard reset on it.  Wipes everything clean, there was an error on the phone.  Puts it back together and said here you go.  I asked him how much and he told me nothing.  That wasn’t acceptable to me.  I gave him 1,000 colones and he was very happy with that.  Wished me a happy new year and I was on my way.

My clothes dryer quit working…again.  This time we called up a local guy, last guy was from Colombia, to come out and take a look at it.  He took the dryer completely apart, cleaned out the whole inside of it, replaced the parts with the proper ones, put it back together, and charged us 15,000.  Dryer hasn’t worked this good since we bought it.

Walking around town the other day and I decided to go into a hardware store.  My husband is looking at me wondering what I am looking for.  I really didn’t know, just wanted to look to see if they had anything new.  They did!  Finally found the perfect ceiling fan for our dinning room.  Our rooms are very small so we had to find something with small blades on it and it had to have a light.  Not the easiest thing to find where we are at.  Turns out the guy we were working with used to live in Atlanta and knew some pretty good English.  Ended up giving us a discount on the fan.

When we first moved here we didn’t have anything and got a lot of stuff given to us when we moved into a house that wasn’t furnished.  Slowly over time as we have been getting new things we have been taking everything that was given to us and giving it to someone else who may need it.  We did that again today, had a friend come over and pick up some stuff to put it to good use.

We feel that we have been very lucky and blessed to live in the community that we live in.  We have great neighbors and great friends.  It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for us.  That is what you have to find for yourself.  What you may like, want, and need will not be the same as the next person.  Remember that when you are looking to move here, or even visiting here.  Everyone likes something different.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Some advice

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!