by: Robelyn Martinez Yambao
Hola My Friends,
Today, I'm gonna be talking about pregnancy in Costa Rica. As a foreigner, it is really an exciting part of my journey in life to experience this kind of adventure abroad. I do blogging with my husband and 3-year old daughter where I write my personal experiences to share to other people so they have idea on what to do if they have the same situation like mine. So, let me share my story.
Arriving in Costa Rica as Pregnant Tourist
My daughter and I arrived in Costa Rica 5 months ago and I was 3 months pregnant during that trip, my husband was waiting for us in the said land. It was an exhausting trip from the Philippines via Europe with a child with me and suffering from morning sickness, can you imagine what my situation was? But, through prayers nothing is impossible, we had a safe and nice trip. I never had a hard time in dealing with airlines and immigration because of my situation they gave me a special treatment that made me so happy.
Costa Rica System For Pre-Natal
In Costa Rica, you can choose whether private or public service for your pre-natal as you wish. The charge in private doctors is around $50 [a friend] to $100 [in the private clinic]. On the other hand, availing their services through Caja is free. If you have a plan to give birth in their country, your baby will be a Costa Rican who automatically can avail the Free service in public clinics/hospitals though you did not contribute in their system.
I had a chance to try their public clinic and until now I am trying to avail to save money. Here are the steps I did to make it happen:
* I went to a small clinic in Esquipulas nearby our apartment where I live. I was walking one day going to grocery and passed by in this clinic during that time was open [It was always close]. I was not aware that everything they do in clinic should have appointment until I talked to the nurse. I asked the nurse if I can have my Pre-natal in the said clinic. She asked about a Card. She couldn't speak English so, translator application is needed in your phone to communicate. I told her It was my first time so, I need to know what to do to get that Card. She gave me instruction what to do and where can I get it. It should be in the Clinica De Palmares which is located at the center of the city. I live in Palmares, Alajuela by the way.
* We went to the said clinic which is bigger than the clinic I went to. I told the guard my purpose so he led me to the English speaking doctor available that time who was walking on the lobby. The doctor instructed me where to go but I was confused because I did not understand his instructions. So, he volunteered to accompany us to the next building and he talked to the secretary about my situation. After the secretary accepted us, he returned back to his duty. The secretary was so friendly and helpful. She registered me in her computer using my passport and gave us appointment with the doctor for the next day.
* The next day, we went back to her office to ask her where to go. As usual, she was so friendly that she accompanied us to the counter and instructed us the step by step showing the rooms I need to visit. In the first room, the nurses will give you check on BP, height, weight and write it on your card. That's the day I got my card. Then, they forwarded my record to the doctor assigned. After few minutes, the doctor called me and he gave me initial interview about my records I gave him. He also checked my medical certificate and ultrasound I brought from Philippines. They sent me to bed to check my baby heart beat [he has assistant]. Lastly, he gave me prescription for my vitamins and appointment request for urine and blood test and ultra sound. He told me to submit that to the next building [the first building I went to] to get appointment. He also told me to come back for November check up.
* We went to the said building the next day. I told the guard I'm going to laboratorio. He showed us the counter where we can give the paper slip. The nurse at the counter returned our paper with our appointment for my lab test and that was 23 days later. She gave me small plastic bottle for my urine.
* We also got my vitamins in their pharmacy inside the building at the same day. All free!
FREE VITAMINS FROM THEIR PHARMACY
Note: When I asked the secretary where can I have my ultrasound, she told me to visit the public hospital in San Ramon. I went to San Ramon for my ultrasound unfortunately, the available appointment for me will be on December which will be near to my expected delivery date. So, I decided to get it in a private clinic, I just paid 38000 colones. We went to the private clinic and got appointment for ultrasound. When we visited the doctor on the said date assigned to us that was 2 days later, he did the ultrasound and explained it to us. He gave us two copies of paper report plus the photo with the CD as shown in the image below. If I can still reach the said schedule I've got in San Ramon hospital, I will still use my appointment to avail the free ultrasound :)
Just recently, there were two nurses visited my house to check me. Those nurses were from the small clinic near my house. I was glad because they were so thoughtful and caring. They check my BP and asked me about my next check up for November schedule. They asked me to come with them in the clinic so they can give me a shot for anti-tetanus/anti-bac injection to protect me and my baby. I was so glad to have it. They also gave me instructions on what to do after I have my baby from baby's Carnet to baby's First lab test. All in all I am happy to avail the services they are giving in a public health care. I am planning to give birth in the public hospital and hopefully through my prayers I will have a safe and normal delivery.
November Check Up
I went back to clinic for my lab test schedule. I made a mistake in going there because I did not read the instructions before coming to the lab. What I understood in the writing was "collect my urine first pee in the morning". I did not read the other instructions "not to eat breakfast" or "do fasting 10 hours before going to clinic". I ate my oatmeal that time so, when the doctor took my blood sugar it was high and asked me if I ate my breakfast. When I said yes, he immediately say "you can go and come back again".
I went immediately to the secretary to ask another appointment for my lab test because I wasted my first appointment they gave me. So, she gave me another one for a week of waiting again. When I came back for the second time, the doc asked me first if I had my breakfast before getting my sample blood. This time, I said no with smile. So, he took 2 tubes of my blood from right arm. Then, he gave me 1 glass of drink it was sweet and color yellow like beer. After I finished drinking, he asked me to wait for 1 hour just sitting outside without moving and eating. After an hour, I went back to him and he took another tube of blood from my left arm. That was it! I went back home to wait for 3 days and returned to clinic to have appointment with my doctor for November check up.
When I visited my doctor, I went to the secretary to show my appointment slip. She checked my folder in her desk and gave it the the nurse room. When the nurse called me, they get my BP and my weight and jotted down in my card. Then, they forwarded my papers to my doctor. After awhile, the doctor called me to enter his room. He told me everything was normal and perfect. He checked my baby's heart beat and he showed me the results of my urine and blood tests. So far, so good.
Ultrasound in San Ramon Hospital
This December, I was able to avail the ultrasound in the hospital. Remember, I wrote here that they gave me appointment last October for December ultrasound? I thought I won't be able to try this anymore since my due will be December. But, in my last check up my due will be 3rd week of this month so I tried to travel in the hospital last week. They did not have a picture of the baby, only a paper stating some writings that only doctor can read. A very quick visit and the doc said "everything is okay".
As of today, I did not visit my doctor for Pre-natal again because my tummy is really heavy now. I plan to wait for my delivery due and go straight to hospital when the right time comes. :)
If you think this is helpful, please share to your friends especially those who are living in Costa Rica as foreigners. Thank you for reading my article!
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by: Robelyn Martinez Yambao
Third Trip June 2015 - Bus from San Jose to Peñas Blancas
Here I am again sharing my third visit to Nicaragua. For recap, I went to Nica alone during my first trip and I got my stamp successfully, I stayed over night in Rivas before heading back to CR. In my second trip, I was with a friend. Same procedures in getting stamp but we took the San Jose route and stayed at the border for few hours only and got bribed by officer at check point. This time, the building of the Nicaragua Immigration office transferred to the left side. The new building was in blue color and much bigger than the old building located on the right.
We did the same travel plan from Jaco to San Jose that we thought same terminal as what we experienced before but, we were wrong!
When we went to the terminal of deldu at 2:00 am, no passengers were waiting at the area, so strange. So we thought that we just arrived too early but, the gate was locked. Then, we went to the next terminal nearby to sit on the waiting area across the road. While waiting there, the guard of the said terminal asked us what were we doing there? and we told him about our trip with deldu. He said the terminal was transferred already a lil bit farther from there. He suggested to get a taxi since it was still dawn and not safe for us to walk. Luckily, we found one and the driver took us to the general terminal.
I asked the guard on duty about the departure time of the bus going to Peñas Blancas and where to buy our tickets. He showed us the way going to the booth where we can get our tickets. The terminal was so big compared to the old ones. When I got our tickets, it was same price with the previous trips I had.
I was expecting to see the same Deldu bus before but I was amazed when a double deck bus arrived on the station. That was my first time to ride a double deck bus ever. Our seat numbers were located at the upper deck and it was a great experience!
On the way, we had a stop over on the same restaurant I stated on my second trip. As usual, we ate the food I brought with us.When we headed to Nicaragua, we did not experience check point on the way unlike before where police comes inside the bus to check the passport of each passenger. It was a smooth trip and I slept all the way.
When we arrived at the border, I observed again that the booth in paying tax was transferred on the left side of the old booth. I paid the tax and they collected $8 dollars this time even it was stated in the receipt $7 only. I asked the man why they collected $8 instead of $7? He said $1 for service charge. So we left the place puzzled.
So, same process before. We exit Costa Rica and enter Nicaragua smoothly and no hassles. What was really annoying always was the people coming to you asking some offer or help and we always say no. Now, the Nicaragua Immigration Office was transferred to the building next to the gate where we gonna enter Nicaragua land.
So, that's it. We went to the same hostel I went before during my first trip. We paid taxi $10 going to Rivas and we stayed the night there. We observed food was really cheaper than Costa Rica. We changed some cash to Cordobas. $1 is 27 cordobas. I gave the $20 and he gave me 540 cordobas. I paid hotel 270 cordobas. When we return to the border the next day we paid the taxi driver 220 cordobas.
We had a smooth processing again. This time the officers were so good and treated us nicely.
COSTA RICA SIDE
At the Costa Rica immigration, the officer asked for my ticket and I was prepared and showed my itinerary using my phone. But, my american friend was not prepared. His ticket cannot be found in his email. The officer won't consider so he told her he's leaving Wednesday. It was Sunday at that moment. Then, the officer stamped his passport 3 days of stay in Costa Rica. What? Yes, only 3 days stay in Costa Rica. Luckily, that was a real trip. If not, he needs to exit Costa Rica again forcefully. Well, I got 90 days as usual.
That's all for today! I hope you will read more of my travel articles here.
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by: Robelyn Martinez Yambao
SECOND TRIP MARCH 2015: TAKING BUS FROM SAN JOSE TO PEÑAS BLANCAS
The first time I tried to travel in Nicaragua was very challenging since I had no idea about the border. This time, I was accompanied by a friend and I was really confident in crossing because I really know what to do and expect.
This trip was really different with my first trip. I can consider it as a first time again. Even though I already experienced crossing here, it was challenging again because we broke the 3 days rule since, we tried to comeback at the end of the day.
But, something annoying happened on this trip...What was that?
I renewed my stamp again last March 2015. We took bus going to Nicaragua from San Jose same bus liner, the Deldu. From Jaco where I lived during that time, we took the last trip going to San Jose so we arrived there evening that we needed a room next to the terminal because the first trip going to Peñas blancas was 3 a.m. We paid $15 for that room and stayed there till 3:00 a.m.
Early in the morning, we went straight to the bus terminal. They did not have ticketing booth. We just paid the driver four thousand or more colones equivalent to $9.
On the way, I was expecting to have a stop over at the same restaurant in my first trip but I was wrong. We ate our breakfast at the restaurant I posted as shown in the photo above (It was still dark when we arrived).
The road trip was still the same before, a tiring road trip. I just slept all the way until we reached Peñas Blancas at past 9:00 am.
So first thing we paid the exit tax, then got stamped. We walked towards Nicaragua border. There was a checkpoint to check our passports. After that, entering the gate with two officers checking the passport again and then we headed to the other side to get lil square piece of paper like stub and they asked me my nationality and wrote it down on the list. In short, same process with my first experience last 2014. But, this time I was prepared with my xerox of my passport. We waited for few minutes and I got my visa smoothly. No hassles...
GOING BACK TO COSTA RICA
After the stamping, my friend suggested that we can go back to Costa Rica after few hours. I was hesitant because I knew that I need to stay even a night in the country but I would never know if that is true if I wont try it. So we gave it a try!
We went to the nearby town in Nicaragua to find internet cafe to print out my ticket since my phone got empty battery. I was not able to print my ticket when we were still in Jaco. My friend told me not to worry about it because they won't ask for that. I was worried because I experienced already entering Costa Rica and they asked me my return ticket going back to my home country, Philippines.
When he saw my uncomfortable face, he found someone to help us find internet cafe. That was our mistake because that boy tried to bribe us.
We went to net cafe and paid the guy $5 for sending us back and forth by taxi. We never got my print out ticket because I couldn't enter in my email because of security code. In short, internet cafe hunting was a waste of time and money.
We headed back to the border since we decided to go back to Costa Rica after few hours. But the boy did not leave us pretending he was there to kill time. We did the step by step procedure in exiting Nicaragua which was the same in my first trip. When we reached the exit gate for check point of passport, the officer and the boy were talking in Spanish. Finally, the officer said we couldn't go back to Costa Rica because I have Visa and I need to stay for 3 days in their country. That was the start of annoying part of our journey. They bribe us!
I was annoyed because I already have stamp that I exit the country. I told him what would I do? Why the officer inside did not tell me? He shouldn't stamped my passport if that's the case! I already have this exit stamp!!!
My friend knows bribery so he to me to be calm. He talked to the boy to talk to the officer about our situation. They were asking for money. My friend offered $5 but they did not accept. They want 10 thousand colones that's $20. I was really reacting because they were just playing games. Anyways, my friend is an American.
After giving them money, the boy asked for a tip again in helping us. I did not talk to him because I was really upset. So my friend gave him another $5.
We spent $25 for exiting the gate, $20 for the officers and $5 for the boy. I really hate that officer and the boy!
So in entering Costa Rica was also same in my first trip. But, this time the officer did not ask me to show my return ticket. He just asked me how many days to stay in Costa Rica.
After that, my stamp for my stay in Costa Rica was renewed for another 90 days. I was so happy. We took the same bus at 1:00 p.m. and luckily we still got seats in San Jose which was the last trip going to Jaco. That was really a long hours of road trip.
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A licensed teacher in the Philippines who shifted her career into another direction to follow her passion to be a blogger. Her blogs are related in traveling and simple living as an expat in a foreign land.