Chinese-Costa Rican mountain doctor

Did I ever tell you about the time I got really sick in Costa Rica? It wasn’t dysentery. Gross.

It wasn’t anything related to bad water–we were actually pretty careful about that (until a few days in, when we were like, “Just give me some goddamn ice. It’s so. Hot.“)

Stop thinking about dysentery. Seriously, it wasn’t that.

Let me back up–did I ever tell you about the time I went to Costa Rica? No? Weird, since this blog used to be at least 50% travel stories. Well in 2009 my best friend went to Honduras for a year to teach children and save the world, or some such nonsense (she’s always doing that kind of thing, making me look bad), but her visa didn’t last for the whole year. So every three months, she’d have to leave the country for a certain number of days, and then her visa would be renewed. Totally legit.

Anyway, we were chatting on Skype and she was like, “Hey. I have to leave the country and I was thinking of going to Costa Rica. Wanna come?”

I very rationally told her, “WHAT? That’s crazytalk! Shut your crazyface.”

But then I started thinking, why couldn’t I visit Costa Rica? It’s tropical and different, it’s cheap, it’s not unreasonably far away. And I’ll have Crazyface to be my personal translator.

And then I thought about planning such a trip, which you know is my favorite thing ever… and then before I knew it I was in Costa Rica with my BFF and BFATTNH (boyfriend at the time, now husband).

It was awesome. We stayed one night in the capital (San Jose) to get our bearings (not worth it–get right out of there as soon as your plane lands), one night in La Fortuna to see the volcano, two nights in Santa Elena de Monteverde to see the cloud forest, one night in Montezuma to see the beach, and our last night back in San Jose before scooting back home.


Mount Arenal, most consistently-active volcano around. Except when we were there.


A jolly day for a hike, I say!


Get it, cloud forest?

Montezuma _log2

It was a whirlwind. A h-wirl-h-wind, if you will. But what with all the traveling, the heat, our wariness of the water, and that h-wirly h-wind I got some serious nasty flu-like, infectiony business happening all up in my face. Around Arenal I knew something was coming, and after our first night in Monteverde I was fevery, achy, and downright miserable.

After a morning-long hike in the beautiful cloud forest (it’s like a rainforest, but at a higher elevation and with more moisture), I was figuratively dying. Not quite literally yet. In the cloud forest I felt a little wobbly, and when our guide point to a hummingbird in her nest, she flew over, landed right on my finger and told me I was a goner.*

We found ourselves some greasy, sketchy-looking hamburguesas for lunch, and as we sat on a curb waiting for a bus to take us to our zip-line adventure through the forest, I started crying because I was in a lot of pain, exhausted, far from home, and the road kept swaying and rolling as I tried to navigate it.*

Luckily–and I don’t know whether it was because I had a brief lull in my sickness or because of adrenaline–I felt fine during the zip-line tour. I felt great, really. It was my favorite part of the whole trip, and one of my favorite memories ever.

2 out of 3 of us got stuck on the longest line. Crazyface here and BFATTNH.

2 out of 3 of us got stuck on the longest line. Crazyface here and BFATTNH.


Look how faar awaaay I aaaaaam…

But on our way back to the hotel, it became apparent that I needed help to make it through the rest of the trip in one piece. So our nice hotel administrator called: the Costa Rican Visiting Mountain Doctor!

Maybe half an hour later we got a knock on our door, and we met doctor Johnnie Tong, who spoke perfect English and Spanish. If there weren’t other people witnessing this strange mix of a man, I would have thought he was another fever hallucination. But I still have his card to prove it.


He diagnosed me with something like a sinus infection on top of Strep throat, told me I was dehydrated and gave me a prescription and a giant bottle of Mexican Pedialyte. He said I had to drink the whole thing like a good little Latin American child. It was gross and orange and seriously so big, but I drank it and eventually felt better. Also I spoke Spanish pretty well at the end of it, so, bonus!*

Also? We saw Dr. Johnnie at dinner that night in a restaurant. I don’t remember if we said hi—I was a little loopy still. I felt like there was a tree growing through the restaurant, so my memory can’t be counted on during this time.

Oh wait…

Treehouse Restaurant, afterall

*This may or may not be a fever hallucination.

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