146. A Beautiful Reunion

Reunion Dance GIF from Reunion GIFs Saturday 2/3- Many of you who know me know that once upon a time I was in the military. During a deployment to Iraq nearly 17 years ago (Ugh, I really feel old after saying that!) I got close to 2 battle buddies who I hope will be in my life forever. We were all young girls from MN in a military field where very few women end up and we formed a tight while trying to keep each other as sane as possible during a tough 18 months far, far from home. After the deployment we all ended up back in MN, but only saw each other about once a year. Despite not seeing each other very often, when we do get together it’s like no time has passed and we can step right back into our friendships without any problems. The last time I saw these gals was shortly before we moved down here, and ever since then we always talked about when they would come visit us. That was finally happening! We have been working on planning this for a while, and today was my & Ramie’s d

27. What Does Yucca Have To Do With A Doctor?

While we have been here for a month now, I still haven’t ventured too deeply into all of those new veggies that we see at the farmers markets. That will change soon, though, since I now finally have internet to search for recipes and recommendations on how to make new to us local dishes! One that I did learn how to make during one of our vacations, though, is yucca (also known as yuca or casava). This is a root vegetable that is very common at the farmers markets and grocery stores, and is quite similar to a potato in texture and flavor. We first remember tasting yucca 2 years ago on vacation with an authentic breakfast served by the abuela (grandma) of the house we were renting and we thought it was delicious, so what did I do? Well, as you’ve no doubt learned so far from reading my past posts, I went to google for answers. I learned how to do it, and I gave it a try. I’m sure there are many ways to make it, but you are going to hear the Dana’s cooking 101 version.

This is a very small one, probably about 6-8 in. and about 3 servings worth once all cooked up

So, first, when you buy these pieces of yucca they might be anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet long. If you buy them at the farmers market they were probably just harvested that morning and might even still have some dirt on them. That’s ok- I’ve learned that the fresher they are, the better! The ones in the grocery store sometimes have what seems like a wax coating on them to keep them fresher longer- I tend to not buy it at the grocery store any more since I don’t like dealing with that waxy stuff. 

I start preparing the yucca by cutting them into about 2” pieces, then peeling the thick skin off and cutting each piece in half lengthwise. Then, you boil these pieces like you’d boil potatoes for mashed potatoes. Eventually, they get soft and start breaking apart a little bit, that’s when you know they are done. You could eat them just like this (and I sometimes do) and it tastes like a boiled potato. BUT, when we had them, they fried them up like hash browns. Those were delicious!! So, that’s how I typically prepare them. After they are done boiling and drained, I let them cool for an hour or so, and then break them up into smaller pieces almost resembling stuck together grated/shredded potatoes. If they aren’t quite soft enough and falling apart that much, you can cut them into wedges that resemble “steak fries” and do the same thing. Then, I add a tablespoon or 2 of butter and a couple more tablespoons of coconut oil to a large frying pan, get it pretty hot, then throw the chunks of yucca in, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and let them fry until they are crispy. I know that you can sometimes find yucca in the US (I found it at the Walmart in Stillwater a couple of times, it will be in the produce aisle, and probably look a lot like a branch from a tree, and it is the “waxed” version, but that’s probably all you’ll find in the US).


Today, Friday 7/9 I was going to fry some yucca that I had picked up from the feria the last time we were there. I usually like to chop it up and let it soak in water for a while before boiling it just to get some of the starch to drain out. I started prepping around 1:30 because, really, what else have I got to do? I got about half-way through chopping the big pieces before I cut myself. Now, I don’t think I’m accident prone, but I do seem to cut myself at least once every couple of months when I’m prepping in the kitchen. I mean, it does happen often enough that when Ramie knows I’m prepping food, then hears me swear, he knows it’s because I cut myself.

He almost always gets up to go get a band-aid and helps me stop bleeding so I can go on finishing my food prep. Also, the cuts usually happen when I’m cutting things that are pretty dense (think butternut squash, the really big sweet potatoes, things like that). Yucca is no different, it’s a really hard veggie to chop. So, when he heard me swear from the kitchen, he got up to help me out. I was running my finger under water to clean it out and holding pressure on it to stop the bleeding just like I always do. When he came over with the band-aids, he was surprised at how much blood had made it onto the cutting board before I got my hand to the sink and he kept asking me how bad it was. It wasn’t bad- same as always. I wrapped it and held pressure on it just like always, but this time after about 10 minutes the bleeding wouldn’t slow down. Ramie kept insisting I needed stitches—no, I don’t need stitches! I’ve never needed stitches before—for ANYTHING (Well, actually 2 times, but a doctor had made the cut first, so I don’t really count those). After he had talked sternly to me for a while about paying attention to where my fingers are and where the knife is (I would say he yelled at me, but that isn’t quite right) and the bleeding still hadn’t stopped, he told me that he was taking me to the doctor.

Fortunately, a couple of days ago when we were in town we had noticed where there was a doctor’s office. There are several in town, some of which are “private” and some are “public”. Since we aren’t on the CAJA (or national health care) until we become residents, we would go to the private clinic. So, I put on some shoes, he grabbed my passport, and we headed to town. 

When we got to the clinic there were a couple of other people waiting in the very tiny waiting room. And when I say tiny, there was 1 couch, 1 chair, and standing room for about 2 more people. There was a young guy working behind the desk, and he asked how he could help us (in very good English thankfully). I told him that I cut my finger and it looked like it was pretty bad, he nodded and told me to sit down. He didn’t ask for my name, my passport, or anything at this point. Ok, no problem. Looking around the waiting room, there wasn’t much here. Just the desk, the furniture, and a short hall going back to where the doctor worked… We could hear the doctor back there with someone else, not well enough to understand them, but just enough that you knew he was back there with someone. We waited for about 20 minutes or so while the doctor helped the people who were back there and one other woman who was there before us. When it was my turn, the front desk guy told me to go ahead and go back into the doctors room. When I walked through the door (well, there wasn’t actually a door, just walked through the space where there could have been a door) I felt like I was transported back to the 1920s.


There was a stainless steel examining table with what looked similar to a yoga mat on top of it, a small stainless steel table thing on wheels (like they still use at some Dr. and dentist offices in the US), and one of those old white ceramic cabinets with the glass doors like you see in old movies or old photos. It was tiny and everything looked antique, but it was clean!! The doctor was fairly young, and also spoke great English, told me to sit down and asked about the cut. I sat down on the antique examining table and the doctor unwrapped my finger. 

(If you are squeamish, you should probably skip this next paragraph).

It immediately started gushing blood again. Ok, so it was worse than I had ever cut myself before. The doctor wrapped it back in the paper towel I had been using, grabbed some gauze, to catch the drips, and opened it back up to look at it again. He didn’t say much, but I watched him as he started grabbing supplies out of his antique cabinet. Everything inside the cabinet appeared modern, everything was in the sterile wrapped packages as he took them out, and placed them on the rolling table. He started with a syringe, didn’t say anything, but I figured it was to numb my finger. Sure enough! I am not squeamish about blood, needles, anything like that, I just don’t like to watch as it is happening to me, so I looked away at this point. 2 pokes in the base of my finger, those weren’t so bad. And then OMG! He stuck that syringe right down the middle of the cut. Ok, that BURNED!! (I have never needed stitches before, so this was all new to me. Ramie, who has had some experience with things like this, later told me that as soon as he heard me gasp and say “ouch ouch ouch” that he knew exactly what was happening).

He wrapped my finger back in the gauze for a minute to let the numbing stuff kick in and went back to his antique cabinet. He took out and started unwrapping the stitches kit as I had anticipated. Once he had everything ready and took my finger again, I looked away. I could feel the pulling and knew in my head that it should be hurting but it didn’t. I didn’t watch, just let him do his thing all the while taking deep breaths and trying not to think about it. When he was done, he put a bandaid around it and said it was done. 

(Ok all of you squeamish people, it’s safe to start here again)

I asked “Cuantos?” (how many) and he told me “tres” (three). And indicated I could get up and go. At that point I had to ask him, sooo, keep it dry, keep the band aid on it? What’s next? Keep it dry and the band aid on until tomorrow, then take it off tomorrow and wash with soap. Come back in 8 days to have the stitches removed. That’s it. I walked out of the tiny examining room and back into the equally tiny waiting area. Ramie and I went to the counter, they told us how much it cost (in Colones), and Ramie gave him the credit card. I realized that today was Friday and 8 days would land next Saturday, so I asked if they were open. He said no, and to either come back on Friday or Monday. Ok, no problem. And that was it! He never asked for ID, didn’t write anything down, just fixed me up and sent us on our way. When we got back out to the car I used my currency converter to see how much this first trip to the doctors office cost us. $65. Could you imagine how much an urgent care visit for stitches would cost in the US? On top of that, this whole thing took less than an hour from the time we left the house to the time we got back to the house (and that included the 10 minute or so drive each way). It could have taken half a day if we had been in the US!

 I really wish I would have gotten some photos of the office to show you what it looked like. You would never see anything like this in the US unless it was a setup in a museum or for a movie. But, the truth is, I didn’t feel worried at all being treated here. Like I mentioned earlier, it was clean, the doctor was professional, and all of the important things were modern and like I would expect at a US doctor. The first impression walking into the office, though, almost reminded me of an old asylum like you would see in a black and white scary movie!! HAHAHAH 

Since we’re talking about doctors, I want to take a minute to talk about medicine here too. As you drive through any town here in Costa Rica you almost always find a sign that says Farmacia, pharmacy. Uvita has at least 3 of these along the main highway that we have noticed. On one of our past vacations I ended up with an ear infection and knew I needed something to get it under control before we went back to the US. We talked to the owner of the house we were staying at (this was not when we were in Uvita, so it wasn’t Loren) and he told us to just go to the farmacia and tell them what I needed. So, we went to one of the pharmacies in town, told the pharmacist that I had an ear infection, he turned around, grabbed a box off the shelf, told me how many drops and how many times per day, and rang it up. It was under $10. I never had to go to a doctor, didn’t need a prescription, none of that! This is how it is with many things down here. Most regular medications you can just go get right off of the shelf, and in many cases, is probably a lot less expensive than you’d pay at a pharmacy in the US. I know that pain killers and some antibiotics need an actual doctor prescription, but not for many of the simpler things (think things like you would get if you did the VirtuWell online doctor visit or something similar). I’m not sure how it works for daily medications that you take for long term since we don’t have to take care of anything like that down here. But, I can tell you this- it sure is a lot easier to just walk into a pharmacy and tell them I have an ear infection than to screw around with a doctors appointment, then going to the pharmacy, then waiting 40 minutes to fill the prescription! I think the US needs to take some notes from Costa Rica on this one!😁


  1. Wow...glad you are ok and I have to say I love your blog!

    1. Thanks so much! I have to say I feel pretty dumb for slicing myself bad enough to need stitches, but it definitely could have been worse!!


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