|You’re on your Mexican vacation and you hit a crisis. You get sick, or worse, injured. Nothing quite brings a trip to a screeching halt like something that might require medical attention. Not just for you, but often for your buddies, family or traveling companions.
You’re obviously far from home. Seemingly no one speaks English. Even for something as simple as a nasty hangover or a Montezuma’s Revenge, it’s not like you can run down to the local Walgreens or other familiar pharmacy.
But wait, actually, if you know what’s wrong, most tourist destinations actually DO have familiar places like Walmart and other large stores that have pharmacies. Small local pharmacies are on every street corner. Believe me, most understand your “Spanglish” explanation of a headache or “the runs.” You are hardly the first person who’s come into the store with those kinds of complaints…especially in someplace, for example, like Cabo.
Certainly, your first option should be to report to the front desk at your hotel. Not only do most have things like aspirin, antacids and other first aid items, but many have doctors on call or, can recommend you to a local doctor, hospital or emergency care facility. Or point you to a pharmacy if you just need some medicinal aid that they don’t have.
Don’t panic. Most things, actually pass quickly. Some of the worst-feeling things, you personally could have prevented or know how to deal with if pointed in the right direction.
Prevention, of course, is the best medicine of all.
Of the thousands of clients we have hosted here in La Paz, there have fortunately been only a handful of injuries or sickness. I would venture to say that the majority of them started with the line…
“We decided to do some shots of tequila…”
“The guys dared me to do it…”
OK, right. Pilot error. Alcohol is often the culprit in the hands of someone who forgot to take it easy. Either drinking too much…mixing poisons (“I started with tequila and went to rum then to vodka!”) or mixing medications (“I forgot the doctor told me not to drink whiskey with my heart medications!”)
I think almost all the broken bones or tricked knees or head bumps or the busted teeth were the result of someone not being more careful and under the influence.
Or, not drinking enough! Or forgetting that the sun is not always your friend.
Our biggest enemy is people not drinking enough water and getting heat-stroked which can have symptoms that resemble food poisoning, the flu, hangovers, diarrhea, etc. Simple avoidance means drinking enough water (beer and tequila do not count) and trying to minimize exposure to the sun.
In worst case scenarios, heat stroke can easily land you in the hospital or worse. Same for sunburn too. C’mon…common sense. You live in Michigan all year long and you miss sunshine. This is NOT a reason to “go lobster” and burn your back and man-boobs. Keep your shirt on, amigo! Sunburn hurts like the devil and can have long term effects.
But what if you’ve got a problem that can’t be solved with a few pills; more water; abstinence; or a night’s rest?
My first choice, if you are in a tourist area and staying at one of the more tourist-oriented hotels is to contact hotel management. I’d contact the front desk. As mentioned, often, they have a doctor on call or can refer you to a health care facility or provider. Believe me, you are not the first person ever to have a medical problem.
If it’s a traumatic injury, again, get a referral from the hotel; the local tour operator; or someone who knows where to go. Speed can often be of the essence and in the tourist areas and even some of the outlying areas, there are excellent first-responders who can get out to you in an ambulance or emergency vehicle.
The last two times we’ve had a problem here in La Paz, the EMT’s that showed up had been trained in Chicago and Seattle! One of the EMT’s riding along, in fact, was a young man from Denver who was working a few months in Mexico to work on his Spanish at the same time.
If you do end up in a hospital, they might not often accept your insurance, but I have yet to run into a health care facility that did not perk up when you showed them your credit card. They might not accept Blue Cross, but everyone knows VISA!
One caveat, many of the major tourist areas, have upscale hospitals that cater more towards tourists and the middle and upper class locals. That’s where you want to ask to go if you have a choice. Often, they have many English-speaking employees and doctors. And care, is a notch above too. Certainly, it’s great for 99 percent of the types of injuries that befall tourists and if it’s more serious, can stabilize the situation so you can get home and see your own doctor.
But, again…the best thing is not to get hurt or sick in the first place, especially if it’s something you could have prevented by being more careful or prudent!