Warning to all tourists taking prescription drugs...Could result in a Costa Rica nightmare...


Yesterday we shared a photo of an Owl Eyed Butterfly and today, we have a winking Barn Owl.
"Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica"

Ulysses creating a perfect trim on the hedges at the villa.
After yesterday's scathing tongue lashing on Monday's less than a pleasant attempt at renting a car, we hesitated to go down a somewhat negative path two days in a row.

For the majority of tourists, today's post will have little significance. You book a vacation/holiday in Costa Rica staying at a resort for a week or two.  If you take prescription meds, you bring along a sufficient amount for your entire stay and if smart, you bring enough for an additional few weeks in the event of some mishap or delay in returning to your home country as originally planned.
Creatures in Costa Rica are colorful, including this huge spider in her web.
However, if travelers like us plan to stay for an extended period, its an entirely different scenario when no prescription drugs (including non-narcotic meds) may be shipped into the country.  Also, no vitamins or supplements may be shipped into Costa Rica and will also be confiscated.

Why is this?  Very strict drug laws, coupled with Costa Rica's intent to create a revenue source from selling their own prescription medications in the local and chain pharmacies.  Other than seldom prescribed narcotics, mood altering or brain function medications, most medications are sold over the counter without a prescription.

I take low doses of three non-narcotic meds for the following conditions (bad genes); hypertension, thyroid and a hormone...fairly innocuous items all typically requiring prescriptions from a doctor in the US.  (Other country's laws may vary).
It was frustrating, taking photos through the fences but these birds weren't ready to return to the wild after their rehabilitation.
When I noticed my supply was dwindling these past months, I decided to make a purchase over these next few months from ProgressiveRX where I've been purchasing refills regularly over these past five years through their online service, comparable to buying from any online pharmacy in Canada.  

Easy as always? So I thought.  This has never been an issue in any country in which we've lived over these past years.  I'd make the online purchase well in advance of when I needed them (slow delivery times) and have them shipped to wherever we may be at any given time. 

Although one shipment was lost while we were in Italy, the company happily replaced the lost items at no additional charge.  Luckily, I'd planned the shipments months before I needed the pills and never missed a dose through the lengthy process of replacing the lost items.
Three Barn Owls at Zoo Ave, the bird and animal rescue facility in the Alajuela Valley.
While in Australia, for the sake of convenience, I actually received new prescriptions from a doctor we'd visited for physical exams while in Trinity Beach.  I wasn't able to get more than a six month's supply which is typical, even through online pharmacies. 

Thus, again with a several months supply on hand, I ordered more from ProgressiveRX which we had shipped to us in a box of supplies from the US from our mailing service.

I'd also considered making the purchases of a few month's supply while here in Costa Rica since it's necessary for both of us to have physical exams no more than 60 days prior to the upcoming cruise to Antarctica.  We'd have the necessary exams and purchase my meds while here at any pharmacy.
Three Barn Owls sharing a tree branch.
On Monday, the day of the rental car fiasco, I'd brought along the pills in the bottles with clearly marked labels to the Walmart Pharmacy.  As its turned out, I'll run out of two of the meds prior to the time we leave on November 22nd, thinking they could easily be replaced by some Costa Rica versions of the same frequently prescribed drugs for these conditions, common throughout the world.

Oh, foolish me.  Walmart could not supply me with any of the three meds without changing doses, and brand name components.  One of the meds required the brand name when I tried alternates to no avail in years past.

After the pharmacist and I counted what I had left, we discovered I'll run out before we leave.  "Local pharmacies don't carry what you need," explained the kindly pharmacist.  It's a lost cause.  I contemplated my options which included taking wrong doses and/or wrong meds and decided against it.
These birds were too high up to get clear shots without a tripod.
During the last month when I'll run out of two of the three meds, I'll take doses every other day.  Doing so should not be life threatening although it may create some unpleasant symptoms.  I've experienced worse.  I'll be fine.

In the interim, I'll place an order from ProgressiveRX to arrive at our mailing service in September or October (at the latest) and have them shipped in a box of other supplies we'll be sending to our hotel in Miami where we'll stay one night before boarding the 30-night cruise to South America.

How will we ensure the proper timing?  We'll have the shipment arrive from Nevada to Florida at least two weeks prior to our arrival on November 22nd.  The hotel will hold the package for us until we arrive. 
Parrot sitting atop a perch at Zoo Ave (Ave means "aviary" in Spanish).
At that point I'll have enough to hold me for a few months until I place another order for a shipment to South Africa.  That will work.  We received a shipment while we were in Marloth Park in 2014 without incident.

The end result...bring enough medication with you when you come to Costa Rica unless you're certain you can purchase refills from a local pharmacy of the products/brands/doses you typically use.  You are allowed to bring a normal supply into the country commensurate with your stay plus extra for unexpected events.

Did I learn a lesson?  I suppose in regard to Costa Rica, I sure did.  And, of course in the future, I will check if there will be an issue receiving medication by mail from countries where we aren't quite sure.  After five years of world travel, this is the first time we've run across such a situation. 
A bit blurry from afar but a pretty parrot none the less.
But, like the rental car situation (BTW, we did get a refund from rentalcars.com for which we're relieved and pleased) one never knows what may be encountered in unfamiliar territory.  Neither of these scenarios would be as much of an issue for a typical short stay by most travelers. 

Our unique nomadic lifestyle can be challenging at times. And, we continue to learn as we go.

Be well.
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Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2016:
Shorter than he'd normally prefer, Tom's buzz cut in Phuket Thailand held through the 33-night cruise which began on October 31st.  For more details, please click here.

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