For the fourth week in a row my lungs are on fire as I walk up the hill that leads to my office on the rainforest base in Costa Rica where I call home.
Every morning during wet season has felt like the movie Groundhog Day with all characters and plot replaced by the ever-faithful fall of rain. Clad in my unofficial jungle uniform consisting of black rain boots, yoga pants and a hooded periwinkle raincoat zipped clear to my chin, I once again plod and stumble upwards, ducking my head to avoid the first innocuous rain drops of the day – in this region of Central America rainfall is always soft in the morning, ramping up to a steadfast strain by 11 and, after lunch, reverberating into a full on roar that blocks all noise my coworkers make across the office.
According to Ramon, Use Limes
As I make my way up the hill I see the thin, wiry figure of Ramon waiting for me in the distance. An energetic man of fifty, Ramon is a maintenance worker on base who speaks so fast that even his fellow native Spanish speakers are lucky to be able to catch one in every three words he speaks. To others he is affectionately known as Cuba in honor of the land of his birth. To me he is affectionately known as tio in honor of the earnest bond we’ve built over the past few months. Isolation leads to unlikely friendships.
When I reach the bodega that sits atop the hill I stop and wheeze. The base is located nearly a mile above sea level and, in the thin air that comes with high altitude it is already difficult to breathe, and the state of my lungs send a sharp pain through my chest. My throat also burns, my head is congested and all sense of sparkle has been missing from my eyes for weeks.
“Aye, Lauren. Lauren. Lauren,” Ramon says and shakes his head back and forth upon receiving visual confirmation that I am still not well, despite heading straight to bed every night immediately following work.
On week one of my ailment Ramon plucked limes from the trees and made me a concoction of hot water, fresh lime juice and honey – his miracle cure for tos, his fatherly diagnosis.
On week two Ramon drove me into the nearest town to get speak with a pharmacist and get over the counter medicine.
On week three Ramon drove me back into town to visit a doctor, where I paid out of pocket for an office visit.
On week four Ramon is left with nothing else to do but shake his head in confusion and concern and drive me into town yet again to visit a doctor where I pay out of pocket for x-rays that show I have bronchitis and two new types of medicine.
The Persistence of Jungle Fever
In the damp conditions my bronchitis does not heal. Surely one expects it to be wet in the rainforest, but the dampness of rainy season permeates the air, unrelenting and all encompassing. It is a dampness from which there is no escape – not even indoors as buildings in Costa Rica tend to be poorly insulated. The de-humidifier in my room produces a full bucket of water on a daily basis.
My physical and mental state spirals downward into a condition I self diagnose as jungle fever. Losing heart not wanting to pay more medical fees out of pocket for tests that may or may or may not show anything new, I decide to fly to my parents’ home in Maryland for a week to dry out behind insulated walls and use my health insurance to see a doctor.
Health Insurance Abroad
Eventually with the help of an inhaler, dryness and love from my family, my jungle fever did dissipate and I returned to Costa Rica for several more months to complete my work contract. However, needless to say, this episode of jungle fever was a low point during the time I spent in Costa Rica.
My story illustrates the importance of having health insurance abroad. When you’re traveling overseas getting sick is no game – illness or injury can ruin the precious amount of time you have to see new sites and learn about new cultures, not to mention quickly become very costly.
If you are traveling or spending an extended amount of time abroad, travel insurance is an absolute must as many health insurance companies do not extend coverage to you overseas. While there are many companies out there that offer health insurance abroad, the coverage provided by Generali Global Assistance make their plans a smart choice. With three different plans to choose from, Generali travel insurance offers medical coverage in 208 countries. Coverage options include On Demand Medical Care where you don’t have to pay out of pocket for medical services up to $1,000 and access to Teladoc, a virtual doctor service that connects you to medical experts from anywhere in the world (yes even the rainforest), via video.
When you purchase a plan from Generali Global Assistance, coverage extends far beyond medical including higher trip cancellation benefit limits, no per-item limits on baggage coverage and higher coverage options for stolen or damaged items.
Note: This post was sponsored by Generali Global Assistance, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.