As we lounge around on our respective sick beds, we cling to the hope there is truth to this statement. Our angel Leah and all the experienced expats say we have new allergies from all the new bugs in this tropical clime. In Key West, new residents get what appears to be the same thing. But there we call it "the crud." It earned the name.

Hal and I both remember getting the crud when we first moved to Key West, the only sub-tropical point in the United States. It’s the pits. You feel completely whipped, coughing… suffice it to say you experience a host of disgusting symptoms, somewhere between cold and flu. And it lasts forever: three weeks is not uncommon, a couple of months is not out of the question. What’s really fun is when it comes and goes until you are able to really knock it back with good drugs. Like our current Costa Rica version.

Unfortunately, with both of these dis-eases, there is no fever to kill the bad germs. You just have to wait it out. Thank God we are here where the lovely and competent Leah can bring us drugs and shots and salves and all kinda stuff to make us feel better. In the U.S., you have to actually go to a doctor, then go to a pharmacy where you pay as much for one drug as we’ve paid all together for the two (or has it been three) trips Leah’s made to our house!

If you are going to be sick, come to Costa Rica. Here, you don’t have to feel sick AND ripped off, all at the same time. There is some relief in that fact, trust me.

Nobody knows exactly what we are allergic to, but you mostly only get this in the rainy season when the ground is so soaked that every toxin in the world, buried deep in la tierra for millennia, rises to the surface. Leah says if you could see the air and what is floating around in it right now, we’d all be wearing masks.

Since by all accounts, this rainy season is the heaviest anyone has seen in quite some time, the air must be especially thick with crap. Last year was dry as a bone, so those pesky allergens have not seen the light of day for a couple of years, at least. Building whoop-ass, as it were. Marjie, an expat who’s lived here 18 years, told me yesterday she’s been quite sick this year after never having been sick before.

After the past three weeks, starting with Mom being really sick and the rest of us following, to one degree or another, I’m believing the allergy theory. Especially because of the cures. Ryan, who has asthma – very mild, thank goodness – but who takes Singulair and sucks a Symbicort inhaler everyday, has suffered the least. If at all, actually. He’s already holding the allergens at bay.

Plus, the main drugs Leah gave to mom, besides cough medicine and feel good drugs and injections, were Singulair and a much stronger version of Ryan’s Symbicort. She told mom to take those thru-out the rainy season. Mom’s horrible cough is almost gone now. She’s not 100%, but feeling stronger everyday.

Mo and I pretty much just got over it, taking tons of vitamins and just being the sturdiest, I guess. Mo’s young. I’m sturdy. Some would say I’m just too mean to be kept down for long. Hey, whatever works.

Hal seems good today, but it’s coming and going still. Once it’s settled in your lungs, you need the drugs. A hacking, prolonged, keeping-you-and-everyone-else-up-at-night cough can really get you down.

If you are moving to Costa Rica (or Key West), remember our experience and arm yourself with lung and allergy protection. At least remember Leah at the Real Cariari Mall: you want to know Leah. She’s smart, compassionate, she speaks English, and has been a pharmacist for over 20 years. I trust her more than I’ve ever trusted a doctor and as much as I trusted Gazelle, my former nurse practitioner in Key West.

In Key West, once you’ve had the crud, you don’t get it again. We are hoping the same is true here. That what hasn’t killed us, has made us immune. Stronger, at the very least. Smarter. Better looking. Yeah, I’m going with that.

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