Today I went to the hospital in San Ramon to make an appointment for an ultrasound. I just had a urology appointment the other day and the doctor wants to see me again.
I had to wait 30 minutes to schedule the appointment. There were about 8 other people waiting with me to schedule appointments. While waiting, I did what I always do, observe the people, learn the system, and strike up a conversation with someone. In this case, a woman sitting next to me. Since arriving in Costa Rica, I’ve realized how few people in the smaller towns speak English. It’s different in the more touristy areas, but here, you really need to know some Spanish to communicate with the general public and with your health care provider.
Costa Ricans are always willing to do this, play along and talk to strangers. We spoke about the appointments and the Caja system. I asked her if she was happy with the public medical system. She said she was. I informed her that many foreigners have little faith in the public system and use it sparingly. I also mentioned to her that many Costa Ricans don’t have much faith in the public system either and prefer to use the private system. She replied that they were the same doctors, so why not use the public system? I then let her know that we were happy with the Caja and that our local EBAIS is excellent. I believe that joining and using the Caja is a great way to meet Ticos and begin to integrate. You will rarely see another expat face. Use your Spanish, even if it’s just a few words, though often, they will want to practice their English with you!
- Integration 101: Being Bien Educado
- Book Excerpt 3 from Butterfly in the City: Waiting to See the Doctor at Hospital Mexico