Monday I returned to my dentist to see if the infection was gone so they can finish my root canal, stuffing it with something they get from a tropical tree. Unfortunately it still had infection though improved a lot and not painful, but I need more antibiotics and time. I wait 2 more weeks for it to be completed. Patience!
And when I arrived I witnessed this new sign (feature photo) taped to the front door that they now accept only emergencies, but they assured me that my infection is included in what the government accepts as “emergencies.” So I do get to go back in 2 weeks for what I hope is the last time! 🙂
Everything is different now with Coronavirus! The whole world is in a state of change!
They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.
And if the virus caused you to cancel your Costa Rica vacation, try this very short 1 minute “Virtual Vacation” video clip. ¡Pura vida!
Like Costa Rica’s emblematic Sloth, the people here are always smiling and prepared for come what may – even Coronavirus! Feature photois by the Sloth Rescue Ranch, not me, and from Tico Times. Read on to see how better prepared little Costa Rica is than the big ol’ USA and thus we will get over it quicker too! 🙂
Thursday’s Tico Timesedition reminded us of how better prepared we are than a lot of bigger countries for the pandemic, like our great university is already making emergency respirators for when/if needed at only $140 each! (You think the U.S. would ever do that?) People are ready to sacrifice financially for the 25 days we are closed to all outside tourists (and it will be much longer before tourism is back to normal–like by next winter we hope). Here are the specific articles this week in Tico Times about the pandemic’s affects on Costa Rica:
Though we have fewer cases of the Coronavirus here in Costa Rica, our government has done a better job than many countries of educating people and keeping the number of cases low and thus as an “older person” I am staying in my house now (as recommended) except for these limited people contacts:
Supermarket – And I finally wised up to going when they are not crowded, like early morning.
Bank to pay 2 monthly bills and get cash at ATM (avoid Monday, Friday, & 1st)
Maid comes once a week and we keep our distance
Neighbor delivered Carrot Cake to several of us live-alone singles 🙂
And what keeps me from having “cabin fever” or boredom staying at home all the time? Well, that is easy to answer! I keep doing what I’ve always done since I retired in Costa Rica (minus the travel now):
What I Do Without Other People
(1) Birding that I can still do early mornings right here in my own neighborhood or even walk to other parts of Atenas away from the crowds solo as I prefer anyway.
(2) Blogging started becoming a regular thing for me back in 2014 before I even moved here as I focused then on the decision-making of such a move and now it is my replacement of many failed attempts at journaling, plus I actually have regular followers now and enjoy helping others who are considering retiring in Costa Rica, plus it is still a report to family and friends back in the states who want to keep up. Its a fun and creative outlet! 🙂
(3) Life History Recording (very slowly in the background) as it becomes much of the undated portion of my blog/website, the way WordPress blogs/websites have been organized from the beginning (dated blog & undated “static” pages). And in some ways a part of this history is my . . .
(4) Photo Gallery which was originally going to be pages of this WordPress website, but because of the future potential problem of using too much memory and slowing down access, and me not liking their gallery templates that well, I chose to use a photo gallery specialist at a separate address with a link from my site menu where I can put the full-size photo files (WP wants me to “web-size” photos). Though it is only a click away from my website/blog Home Page, it is actually located on a different server where I have a plan with unlimited space, thus putting all of my important photos, both historical and current on it. And I’m still working on the historical part! 🙂 Hey! I have thousands of photos made just since 2000 and still picking through them for the best to put in the gallery. And oh yes, I chose SmugMug.com as the best looking and easiest to use of the many options today! (Having tried Flickr & Pbase.) And from my gallery you can even order prints or wall art of any of my photos! 🙂
(5) Spanish Lessons Online now! No people contact there! 🙂
(6) The heaviest people contact I’ve had in the past was in almost monthly trips to lodges all over Costa Rica. I postponed two trips, one next week to San Gerardo de Dota and my May trip to San Isidro del General, which had included going on public bus (not healthy now). After that I’ve planned a July birthday trip to Manquenque Lodge in a tree house room as I turn 80 and things will have to get pretty bad for me to miss that! 🙂 I’m using my personal driver to get there and its in “the middle of nowhere” jungles where there should not be any virus. But I wait and see! 🙂
“At this point, it is believed many of the world has come in contact with the virus. And for that reason, we all have to experience social distancing and self-quarantine at various levels.”
RAIN — RAIN — a real rain with a lot of water yesterday afternoon, not the little sprinkle we had on the 24th. This is good news! The gardens and trees will love it and maybe the rainy season is starting early this year – we will see. But at least I don’t have to water for a few days now! 🙂
I still find it hard to show rain in a photo, so I won’t share my effort. But this is a big deal because there has been no rain since early December and we sometimes have to wait until May! I am not living in a rainforest, even though nearby. The Central Valley is in between the cool/wet cloud forests and the hot/wet/humid rainforests, thus our claim of “the best weather in the world” needing no a/c or heat ever here! But we do have rainy and dry seasons and it is still considered “tropical.” 🙂
SETTING THE WAY TO GO FOR ALL GLOBAL INSTITUTIONS COMBATING THE PANDEMIC
The United Nations (UN) representative in Costa Rica has recognized the “exceptional and innovative” way in which the country has responded to the Covid-19 Pandemic. “Under the leadership of the President of the Republic (Carlos Alvarado), the Minister of Health (Daniel Salas), the Emergency Operation Center (COE) and all related institutions are truly developing an inter-institutional response and an exemplary articulated response,” was said by Alice Shackelford, UN coordinator in the country.
Shackelford highlighted, for example, the fact that the National Liquor Factory (Final) is producing gel alcohol, instead of Guaro Cacique, to supply demand and that “Correos de Costa Rica” is providing facilities to distribute this product to the population. “There is a coordinated, articulated response, also thinking about an innovative system that can help us against Covid-19,” said the representative.
She states that “on behalf of the United Nations System we want the citizens to know that the country is being accompanied to develop this response by the different implementation plans to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Hackelford indicated that they are supporting the communication and development of the country’s official’s message to the population about the novel Coronavirus, with a more specific focus on more vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples, children and adolescents, senior adults and people with disabilities to ensure that no one is left behind.
On Thursday morning the country had registered 69 people infected with the virus, one of whom died last Wednesday and five others continued hospitalized. The first fatality is a retired doctor (pediatrician), 87 years old, who was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit of the San Rafael de Alajuela Hospital.
Daily, the health authorities offer a press conference to inform the population about the new cases, the measures to be taken and insist that citizens do not leave their homes unless for urgent needs. Among the provisions that have been taken as a result of the pandemic, there is the suspension of classes until April 13th, the cancellation of large public gatherings, the suspension of sports activities and the closure of discos, bars, and casinos.
Also, as of this Thursday, all borders are closed for the arrival of foreigners, while nationals and residents entering the country will be placed in mandatory quarantine. For its part, the bank system will prioritize the adjustment of debts for those affected by the virus, and the National Rehabilitation Center (Cenare) was designated as the exclusive hospital to attend patients with Covid-19.
Friday I went to Alajuela early for my appointment at the government hospital to get an appointment scheduled with my Cardiologist in Nov-Dec for my annual checkup (yeah, its weird to have an appointment to get an appointment), plus I had a package to pick up at Aeropost and a couple of items to get at PriceSmart.
Wow! I had not been to Alajuela since the Coronavirus scare hit and it has nearly as many cases as San Jose as the second largest city (and my provincial capital by the way). EVERYTHING WAS DIFFERENT!
1st, to get to the hospital early enough for shorter lines, I took the 6:30 AM bus, which is usually packed with people going to work, shopping, appointments, visits, etc. There were just 5 of us passengers on the bus – scattered out one to a seat. And at the entrance to bus was a bottle of hand sanitizer.
2nd, as the bus arrived in Alajuela I could immediately see a difference with fewer cars and people – some streets like a ghost town!
3rd, no wait for a taxi with few people there to use them.
4th, when I got to the hospital, there were few people out front as I was expecting by now, but I wasn’t expecting to be turned away! When I got to the door a guard was stopping everyone and I showed him my cita(appointment paper) and he rattled off several things rapidly that I did not fully understand but I think he was basically telling me “no” that “all appointments not emergencies are canceled.” Bottom line, he would not let me in! 🙂
I got there early on purpose to avoid a long wait, yet I still expected to spend an hour or more. But I spent only 5 minutes there and it was now about 7:20 AM, with Aeropost not opening until 9 and PriceSmart at 9:30. Ugh! Oh well, I drank no coffee at home that morning and had only a bowl of cold cereal, so I took my time walking about 8 blocks to the nearest McDonald’s for breakfast.
5th, I entered the biggest MacDonald’s in Central Alajuela with only one other customer inside! Like the bus, they had hand sanitizer at the counters. I took my time with ham & eggs and lots of coffee while reading the Washington Post. At about 8:30 I began the 6 block walk to Aeropost, getting there 10 minutes before they opened officially.
6th, at Aeropost I only waited a few minutes before one of the clerks, who recognized me through the glass (I’m a regular), came out with my little package, so I did not even have to be one of their limit of 3 customers inside the store – see sign below. And the bright red & green sign reflected backwards in their window is a MegaSuperMercado, a downtown chain-supermarket across the street! The English translation of their home-made sign: “Maximum 3 customers within the branch.” In what they call a “branch office.” That is also the feature photo and the recommended “Social Distancing” to help stop the spread of the virus. Costa Rica is doing its part one little business at a time! 🙂
7th, Because of the time I saved from the hospital rejection, I had about 30 minutes before PriceSmart even opened, so I just walked the 12 or so blocks to PriceSmart which opens at 9:30. This is one way I get my exercise! 🙂 And in so doing, I walked by Alajuela Central Park which, like the one in Atenas, is closed with yellow tape wrapped all around the whole block:
8th, at the entrance to PriceSmart (our store like Costco or Sam’s Club) they not only had a bottle of hand sanitizer, but specifically asked me to please use it while the lady wiped off the handle of my push cart. But unlike everywhere else I had been that morning, they were full of people and at opening time! Full with long check-out lines! And still some crazy bulk-buying by the panicked!
I actually don’t like this store which is too expensive, too large a quantity of things, and not consistent in their stocking; BUT they usually have about 5 or so items I cannot get anywhere else – things I really like. (Another option might be at AutoMercado, an American-styled supermarket specializing in American brands, but their location is not as handy for me as PriceSmart, as a bus rider.)
When I got out of PriceSmart it was a little after 10, meaning I had just missed the 10 o’clock bus! In the mornings the return buses only run on the hour (tho every 30 minutes in the afternoon), so I just slowly walked the 6 blocks to the bus stop for Atenas and still had time to read a little of my new mystery book before it left at 11. Oh well, another morning is gone! But hey! I’m Retired in Costa Ricaand this kind of virus-influenced inconvenience is simply part of my daily adventure! Its what you do when you are retired in Costa Rica! 🙂
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
― G.K. Chesterton
I went to the dentist this morning (report below) and afterwards the bank to pay my rent (my only monthly bill not on auto-debit which is a long story) then by the park to my pharmacy for two prescriptions from Dr. Ureña. I noticed two or three new precautions for Coronavirus. Here’s two pictured.
Bank Line with 6 ft. Distances
Bank lines here (and many others) have always used chairs so people can wait in line seated, just getting up and moving every time another person is called. Before now, many chairs were crammed in side by side with people elbow to elbow. Now we are separated! 🙂 And I did not ask my teller to let me photograph his hands, but all tellers are wearing rubber gloves now.
Central Park Closed
While I was walking by the park this morning, city employees were stringing up the yellow hazard tape to essentially close the city park where usually it is the center of social activity and close contact between people. Not now! Such social distancing is necessary if we (the whole world) are to defeat this pandemic!
And I am avoiding my 2 or 3 times a week coffee or breakfast with friends at Crema y Nata. The World Health Organization recommendation. I may still eat out once or twice a week, but at odd hours at a table solo!
Stay Healthy! Avoid People! 🙂
This morning was my time to go back to the dental specialist for my root canal, assuming the infection was gone. Well, it hurt all week which was an indicator that I still have an infection. Plus the root canal specialist couldn’t make it because she had to rush her husband to the hospital with some kind of kidney problem, but Dr. Ureña is very good and I trust him. In fact, he did two things I wish she had done: He removed the temporary cap and will leave it off with only a wad of cotton in the hole, allowing the infection to drain (she did say that might have to be done). In addition to an antibiotic in the hole, he gave me a prescription for an oral antibiotic to take for a week. Together they should clean up the problem caused by a North American dentist not completing his root canal properly. He also gave me his personal cell phone number if I have any problems or severe pain. It is hard to find soft food that I like to eat beyond oatmeal and pudding! 😉 And even then I can only chew on my left side.
Whew! I go back Monday to see if infection is gone so the root canal can be completed or decide when, but surely sometime next week. But Dr. Ureña assures me I will be fine for my trip the 30th. And since tourism is at a standstill here, I may be at the lodge nearly alone or with an easy job of “social distancing.” 🙂 From the land of rainforests & happiness . . .
Yesterday one case of Coronavirus was confirmed in Atenas. Many of our local people commute to both Alajuela and San Jose for jobs, a natural way for it to spread from the two cities with the most cases. Country-wide Costa Rica has 75 cases now and one death. This is a real pandemic!
Costa Rica is a very health conscious country with one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Thus you can expect great care when a pandemic comes.
I just checked the WHO Website and it showed only 23 cases in Costa Rica as of Friday but see article below for now 26 cases on Saturday, but we have had no deaths. I am still planning my in-country trip 30 March through 4 April to the Talamanca Mountains south of here at San Gerardo de Dota. The fresh mountain air should be healthy as long as no Chinese or Italians are visiting when I do – 🙂 – Just kidding you Chinese & Italians! 🙂 I expect there will not be big crowds from anywhere there and I keep a good “social distance” usually anyway, so think I will be fine as long as none of the hotel staff are infected. People here have already quit shaking hand and cheek kissing for greetings with the elbow bump looking kind of funny to me, but a fun and healthy substitute!
Over this last weekend an upper right jaw tooth was hurting when I chewed on that side. So, first thing Monday after Spanish class I go to my dentist, Doctora Karina Valerio, who speaks only Spanish, which is good for me! 🙂
She checked it out and said she really needed a digital image to make an assessment and sent me to Doctor Ureña Bogantes Rodrigo, one block away, who is also a dentist along with being the only dental radiologist in Atenas with all the expensive equipment for that. And he speaks English! 🙂
He x-rayed my teeth from different angles and gave me the printout from his computer to take back to Dra. Karina, saying he believes I need a root canal. His charge was 15 mil or $26.35.
So I took the image back down the street and Dra. Karina says, “Necessita la endodoncia.” which of course is a root canal! 🙂 And she does not do those, but Dr. Ureña has someone he can bring in to do it. So I pay her only 5 mil or $8.78 for two visits and consultations.
Then I walk back down the street to Dr. Ureña again where he calls and schedules a root canal specialist to come to his office 3 days later, this Thursday. The woman Endodontista (root canal specialist) will have to drill through the right side of a bridge for the needed root canal. Of course it will cost only a tiny fraction of what one costs in the states! 🙂 AND it is soon (3 days) AND ¡No más dolor! (No more pain!)
And yes, I could have gone to the public clinic for free social security dental work, but it would have taken much longer and they would send me to their specialist in either Alajuela or San Jose for a root canal at who knows how long a wait, so I chose private care that is local (I walked to both dentist offices), and so reasonably priced, quick and with excellent service for which I’m willing to pay. While the very poor here can get similar treatment for free, just a longer wait and bus ride to Alajuela or San Jose.
You are possibly aware that dental tourism is one of the big businesses in Costa Rica! You can buy a plane ticket to Costa Rica, stay in a hotel, have the dental work done and do a little tourist activity all for less than what a dentist would charge you in the states for the same work. Dental work prices here are about 20% of the U.S. prices. And remember that doctors and medical care here is ranked higher than that in the USA by the UN World Health Organization, but you guys do rank number 1 as the most expensive in the world on all medical care and services. 🙂 ¡Pura vida!
OK, I won’t go into as much detail about the urologist here. I’m an old man you know. 🙂 At 80 everything starts malfunctioning! 🙂
But the interesting thing I wanted to reportis that our quiet, peaceful little farm town does not have a urologist (or many other medical specialists), either in the public clinic or in private practice. Thus, as I do for my dermatologist, I expected to go to Alajuela for this specialist.
But now we have two new private clinics (competing of course) in Atenas who bring in various specialists based on need. In my case, Dr. Rodriquez, urólogo, comes here to Clinica Santa Sofia (photo below) once a month. While young doctors like him probably stay a lot busier by sharing their time between a big city office and probably several small town offices, it is also very helpful to us in the small towns! We can avoid a trip to the big city! I like my dermatologist in Alajuela very much, so I probably won’t change him, but I expect all other future “specialists” to be found in one of these two new clinics here in Atenas. 🙂
Yes, the dreaded pandemic is even here in paradise! The last I read there are 13 confirmed cases in Costa Rica. (The first 3 were Italians who flew over for a “holiday.”) CR just cancelled 2 cruises to here and suspends mass gatherings but has no airline travel restrictions here yet and I imagine the tourism industry will discourage such but may be necessary. And yes, this virus hurts the tourism business maybe more than any other, just like in the states!
But to indicate the virus panic we already have here, I thought I would be well prepared “just in case,” far in advance and I tried to buy some surgical masksyesterday. After visiting 3 Farmacias (drug stores) here in Atenas I learned that there are none available anywhere in the whole country of Costa Rica – all “Out of Stock” they say. 🙂 Ours probably come from China and I imagine China is using all they can make there now! 🙂
This morning I walked to my favorite supermarket for a regular shopping trip and found that they are “Out of Stock” of all hand sanitizer and Liquid Hand Soap in dispensers but had some “refill” liquid soap in plastic bags that I got 2 of. They were also nearly out of alcohol. Hmmmm. Ticos are very health conscious and most are very healthy. So I am optimistic about avoiding the virus here. And generally I prefer avoiding crowds or many people anyway, which we must do now! So stay healthy! 🙂
“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections–with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds”
— As vegetarians who eat slow and move slow, Sloths conserve their energy and live happy lives. So maybe we humans can learn something from them at this often busiest time of the year! 🙂 Or just “Retire in Costa Rica!” like me! 🙂
See my collection of sloth photos in two galleries: