Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Our Monthly Getaway to Puerto Vallarta
Hummingbirds, Health Care, and Happy Times

Hola from México!
     We had a very nice five-day getaway to Puerto Vallarta last week. No unexpected medical emergencies this time. You may have read my blog article (see below) about our medical emergency, but that occurred during our last trip to PV. This month, we did all of the fun things we had planned.
     Vallarta Botanical Gardens was the highlight of our trip to Puerto Vallarta, with hummingbirds, butterflies, amazing exotic plants, and more. I was so excited to capture this photo of the emerald-green hummingbird! Well, he may have been posing for me. (See more photos below)
     But first, we got our big city expat chores out of the way. One of the advantages of living near Puerto Vallarta is the many shopping and health care services available to us... Read more at HEALTHY LIVING AND TRAVELING IN MEXICO May 2019Newsletter
  Terry L Turrell

Sunday, May 19, 2019


Be Prepared at All Times!

CMQ Premiere Hospital Puerto Vallarta
             It started as a simple, fun weekend getaway to Puerto Vallarta. It didn’t end that way.
Jon and I were only going to spend two nights in Puerto Vallarta, go out to dinner both nights, go to the beach for a couple of hours, and go to Kelly’s Pour Favor Saloon and Cookhouse to listen to music Saturday night. We never made it to anything fun before I became very sick.
Nothing contagious. Just my GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder) that acts up once or twice a year. Normally, I take one of my metoclopramide (Reglan) tablets that I carry in my purse and ten or fifteen minutes later, I’m fine. Not this time.
Here’s the yucky part of the story, but (stick with me) necessary to understand the seriousness of the medical emergency that we found ourselves in. I started vomiting about noon on Friday and continued heaving acid for another twenty hours. My doctor in the U.S. gives me a prescription every year for four promethazine 25mg (Phenergan) rectal suppositories, just in case I need it to stop the vomiting.

First Mistake: I hadn’t brought my promethazine suppositories with me to Puerto Vallarta. They were sitting in the refrigerator at home, safe from melting at room temperature. I hadn’t needed to use one for over six years. Why would I need one for a quick weekend to PV?
First Lesson Learned: Take all medication with you wherever you go, even on a short trip away from home.
I was getting extremely dehydrated and couldn’t keep even a sip of water or half of a metoclopramide tablet down. I toughed it out through most of the night, wanting to let Jon get as much sleep as possible. Plus, I figured there wouldn’t be much staff on duty at any urgent care clinic or hospital during the night on a Friday.
But at 5:00AM, I knew it was time to get some intravenous fluids, electrolytes, and a medication to stop the vomiting into my system. I woke Jon and asked him to Google a CMQ Urgent Care nearby because I knew this health care company has a good reputation. He found CMQ Premiere was about a mile away and Google said they had an Urgent Care. I also asked him to call our doctor in Punta Mita to meet us there, but he wasn't answering his phone at that hour on a Saturday.
We grabbed all of the money we had brought with us for our weekend getaway, about 10,000 pesos ($500US), walked to the street in the dark, and lucked out. A taxi was just passing by. For 60 pesos ($3US), he dropped us at the front door of CMQ.
Only the Emergency door was unlocked, so we entered there and walked up to the admitting clerk, a young man who spoke English. Jon explained that I had been vomiting for over twenty hours and needed medicine. Jon said we knew what was causing it (GERD) so I didn’t need any tests done. The doctor, a friendly, professional woman who spoke perfect English, walked over to the desk and asked me a few questions about my symptoms and said she would need to admit me to the hospital for an IV and possibly some tests.
Second Mistake: We didn’t know that “Urgent Care” in México means Emergency Room at a hospital. We just wanted a walk-in clinic to give me some medication and maybe  IV fluids. CMQ wanted to admit me to the hospital with full services. Not really what we had in mind.
Sanmare Walk-in Clinic Puerto Vallarta
Second Lesson Learned: For an uncomplicated or minor medical issue, we should have Googled “Traveler’s Medical Service”. Here’s one I found that looks like a place that could have taken care of me, though we haven’t yet gone there: Sanmare Outpatient Clinic. Any comments or reviews about personal experience with this or other outpatient clinics would be appreciated.
Third Mistake: The clerk asked if we had medical insurance that covered my care in the hospital.
No, we don’t. We have chosen to pay for our health care out of pocket and, so far, that has not been a problem.
The clerk informed us that we would need to pay 50,000 pesos ($2500US) before I could be admitted to the hospital and receive health care. He said the cost might end up being less or might be more than that amount, but we needed to pay 50,000 pesos up front!
What? We didn’t have that much money with us!
The clerk asked if we had a credit card to pay the 50,000 pesos.
No. We had left our debit and credit cards at home, expecting that our 10,000 pesos would be more than enough for our weekend trip.
Jon complained. The doctor confirmed that this was hospital policy, that most hospitals require this.
Third Lesson Learned: Never leave home without a credit card and a debit card. And maybe we needed to consider Mexican medical insurance—a thought for another day. Right now, we needed to solve this problem before I passed out right there in the waiting room.
Jon asked the clerk and doctor for a recommendation on where to go. They recommended the Red Cross Hospital, Cruz Rojo Mexicana. Another taxi ride, another 100 pesos and twenty minutes later we arrived at the dingy building.

             Fourth Mistake: I took one look at the dirty white walls in the Red Cross waiting room that probably hadn’t been painted in ten years and the wooden backless bench seats set six inches off the ground that looked like they could double as gurneys and I told Jon that I hoped the examination rooms were cleaner than this. He spoke Spanish to a Mexican woman in scrubs with a scowl on her face and her arms crossed. She said there was no doctor until 7:00. I told Jon I didn’t want to be there. We walked out with relief.
Fourth Lesson Learned: I never want to go to a Red Cross Hospital in Mexico.
By this time, I could barely walk due to weakness. I said, “Let’s go to Farmacia Guadalajara (Guadalajara Pharmacy) and see if I can buy promethazine suppositories or the equivalent.

Another taxi ride, another 80 pesos ($4US) and we arrived at an old Guadalajara Pharmacy in the hotel district. They usually have a good inventory of prescription medications. But the pharmacist said Dramamine suppositories were the closest thing they carried. That wasn’t going to do a thing for my vomiting, I was pretty sure. We bought 2 bottles of Electrolit® solution and left. 

          Fifth Lesson Learned: Don’t assume pharmacies in México will stock the prescription medication you use, or even a therapeutic equivalent. Bring your medications with you.
There was only one thing to do at this point. I said, “Let’s go get Bella, our dachshund, and go home. I have my promethazine suppositories there. Once I use one, I should be able to drink some of this electrolyte solution. If not, we’ll take another taxi to the Unimed Urgent Care Clinic in Sayulita next to the Pemex gas station.”
Another taxi ride from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita that seemed to take forever because there was a massive organized bike ride, over 750 bicycles and many police cars bringing traffic on Hwy 200 to a crawl. An hour later, I asked Jon to give our taxi driver a generous tip since he had to tolerate the sound and smell of my vomiting into a plastic bag every five minutes. I was so embarrassed, I mumbled, “Gracias,” and ducked into the house.
Yes, I was able to treat my illness at home with my own promethazine suppositories. It required two of the precious four my doctor in the U.S. had given me before I could start sipping chicken broth. We were so happy that we saved at least $2500US by keeping me out of the hospital!
Another Lesson: Bring eight promethazine suppositories from the U.S. when we return in November. What if I had run out before my GERD settled down? I would have ended up in the hospital eventually.
Summary of Lessons: Bring plenty of money, debit and credit cards, all medications, and consider obtaining a “Traveler’s Medical Insurance” for visits to Mexico or “Mexican Medical Insurance” if you live here. Some expats use the IMSS public health system, but I am hesitant for multiple reasons.

We have obtained some Mexican Medical insurance quotes, but they all appear to have that treacherous “Preexisting Conditions” clause. We are still of the belief that we will continue paying out of pocket for health care in Mexico and if we need expensive care for serious conditions, we will return to the United States where Medicare will cover Jon’s health care and my private, high deductible plan will cover mine.
This is an ongoing dilemma for those who decide to move to México. Age and current health will factor into each person’s decision. For us, at the age of 62 and 69, we’ll continue as we have been, but travel more prepared financially and with our medication container well stocked.
I invite you to SIGN UP for my "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter", published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.

Check out my NEW RELEASE, "Life in Mexico: Never a Dull Moment" available on Amazon worldwide. This is the #4 eBook in the "Healthy Living in Mexico” series.

     Thank you for reading my books and blogs. I hope you enjoy them and learn something useful at the same time. I'm open to comments and suggestions for future topics. Every time I write an article, I learn something new myself!
Terry L. Turrell, Author

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at La Patrona Polo Club in San Pancho (San Francisco), Nayarit, MX

Sunday Brunch, Polo Tournament, Traditional Dancing,

Horse Show, and Live Music!

     We had a wonderful afternoon at the La Patrona Polo Club on Cinco de Mayo. Jon and I celebrate May 5 each year because we had our first date at a Cinco de Mayo fiesta in Ashland, OR many years ago. We recommend experiencing polo tournaments and other events at La Patrona Polo Club. Here's a collage of photos from the fiesta:

Sunday Brunch Started with Pastries and Mimosas

La Patrona Polo Club Offers Riding Lessons

Next Brunch Course--Fruit and Vegetable Salad Bars

Another Traditional Dance Exhibition

More Brunch Options--Fresh Oyster and Seafood Bar

The Dancing Horse

Food, Art, Music Under the Shade of an Old Mimosa Tree

Several Dessert Bars

Grilling Huachinango and the Omelets Prepared to Order

Sauteed Seafood and Grilled Sausage Bar

One of La Patrona's Restaurants and Bars

One of La Patrona's Polo Fields Surrounded by Jungle

     Polo season is finished for this season, but we are looking forward to attending one of the tournaments next season at La Patrona Polo Club in San Pancho (San Francisco), Nayarit, Mexico. This is a fun activity for visitors and residents alike.
     If you would like to receive an Email notification of posts from this blog, please "Follow by Email" in the upper right corner of this page. Thank you for reading. Happy Travels!
     I invite you to SIGN UP for my "HealthyLiving and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter", published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.

     Check out my NEW RELEASE, available on Amazon worldwide. This is the #4 eBook in the "Healthy Living in Mexico” series.
Terry L Turrell, Author

Friday, April 26, 2019

IGUANA IN THE YARD! Bella, Don't Chase the Iguana!

Iguana on the Roof!
     We hadn’t been home in Sayulita for a week before we had a ruckus in the yard that left me screaming. Yes, I still scream when I encounter something new and startling. The neighbors are probably so accustomed to my shrill shrieks that if I was really crying out for help, no one would come check on me.
     It started with a crashing sound in the yard outside our living room where I was working at my computer. I looked over my shoulder, thinking, oh, another brown palm frond must have just fallen out of the tree onto the patio.     
Only One Brown Palm Frond Down

     But I didn’t see any new brown fronds on the ground, just the one I hadn't picked up yet.
Bella Hunting for a Critter in the Garden
     Suddenly I heard Bella, our doxy, barking loudly and running through the garden, the way she does when she’s found a critter to chase. It couldn’t be a land crab—we haven’t had any in our yard for at least a year. The neighbor’s cats aren’t brave enough to jump off the garden wall into our yard—it couldn’t be that. I didn’t hear any squawking so it couldn’t have been a chicken. What was our little hunter so excited about?
Bella Pointing at a Critter
     By the time I reached the yard, Bella was standing at attention in front of our utility area, whining and pointing with her nose up toward our little 6-gallon hot water heater, which sits on a concrete shelf about four feet above ground level. She wanted me to see what she had cornered. I peeked behind the hot water heater, knowing if Bella says there’s a critter somewhere, there is. And who knows what I might find—a frog, a lizard, one time a Téjon (a type of racoon that looks a little like a possum).
     As she started jumping up on the empty buckets, barking, and trying to climb the shelving unit to get up to the water heater, I edged closer to see what she was after. I glimpsed sharp, wicked claws on the wall and a tan and charcoal-gray ringed reptilian tail curled around the base of the hot water heater. It was an iguana and looked to be 18 to 24 inches long!
     That’s when I shrieked, “No, Bella! Bella, Bella, Bella, no!” I scrambled to try and catch her while she was dodging my hands, knowing I was going to scoop her up and eliminate her hunting fun. I finally grabbed her and dashed for the house.
     That’s when it dawned on me that it wasn’t a palm frond I’d heard dropping from our tree—it had been an iguana! I’ve seen them drop 8 to 10 feet from a tree onto a sidewalk downtown and stroll across a busy street. We’ve watched them as we walk by the protected “Iguana Tree” in centro, giving the overhead monsters a wide berth to avoid getting a nasty splat of their dung on our heads. But we’ve never seen an iguana in our yard!
     I've heard stories from the locals and read articles that say iguanas can do some serious damage to a dog with their teeth. Bella is tough but only 9 ½ pounds, and she doesn’t seem to know she’s small. I’m guessing if Bella got close enough to threaten an iguana, the iguana would probably win the fight with its razor-sharp, serrated front teeth.
     So, I rescued Bella from the iguana. Or maybe I rescued the iguana from Bella. I took Bella into the house and shut all the doors. I told Jon to go look at the iguana and see if he could encourage the reptile to leave our yard. Jon poked a broom handle toward the creature several times, but it didn’t budge. He said, “Let’s just leave him for a while and he’ll probably climb a tree and go. I don’t think he liked Bella chasing him.”
     An hour later, I crept back outside, leaving Bella inside, of course, to check on the iguana. It appeared he was gone. I let Bella out to verify, and she agreed that he was nowhere to be found.
     Two days later, Bella had the iguana cornered again, barking furiously. By the time I ran out to the utility area, the iguana was on top of the utility shelf, scrambling around, knocking cans of spray paint and insect repellent onto the concrete patio. This time I didn’t even scream! I sternly said, “No, Bella,” then scooped her up and went to ask Jon to deal with the iguana. Jon tried squirting him with water from the hose, but the iguana didn’t budge. We went back in the house, taking Bella, and closed all the doors again. An hour later we let Bella confirm that the iguana was gone. I hope he left for good this time.
     I surmise that while we had been gone to Oregon for three months, that iguana must have moved into our yard and claimed it for his own. It was probably a peaceful sanctuary with no dogs harassing him. I hope Bella has convinced that iguana to find a new home. Bella keeps the critters flushed and gone when we are here—she loves to have something to chase. I just don’t want her chasing iguanas, snakes, or Téjones, though it is nice that she lets us know when a critter is in the yard. I really don’t want any wild animals coming into our house!
     Life in Mexico—never a dull moment!
Life in Mexico: Never a Dull Moment
(Healthy Living in Mexico #4)

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Terry L Turrell Amazon.com Author Page

Thursday, April 11, 2019

LIFE IN MEXICO: NEVER A DULL MOMENT eBook is Now Available (Healthy Living in Mexico #4)

New Release!

I am excited that my new book is now available on Amazon. Here is the description:
Life in México after Jon and Terry’s retirement has been wonderful—everything they had hoped for and more. It has been over three years since they bought and moved into their casita (a small Mexican home). They haven’t regretted it for a moment. Really, there’s never a dull moment.
So, what do Jon and Terry do all day? They live. They live, like they would anywhere, but life is slower, warmer, calmer, more peaceful, pleasurable, and much cheaper. They have time to explore the opportunities around them, new and fun activities to do, new places to travel. Retirement in México is bliss, mostly. Every day includes a new adventure or entertaining event, usually some kind of exercise, sometimes a little work, and, of course, time for relaxing. Their retirement is anything but boring.
Issues of interest to expats and those thinking of moving to México such as health care and medical issues, how to receive mail, ways to get involved in the community, ease of travel within the country are addressed in this book, the fourth in the “Healthy Living in Mexico” series. Jon and Terry may have retired from full-time RVing, but they still travel in their motorhome to interesting places in México. Follow them on their adventures and everyday life as you read their stories about “Life in México”.
To read now on Amazon.com, click HERE. View links in other countries on my newsletter at: Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico April Newsletter.

     Thank you for reading my books and blog articles. I am an independent author, meaning that I write, publish, and market my own material. I would greatly appreciate it if you can take the time to leave a short review on Amazon so others may find my books, too.
     Happy Reading and Traveling!

Terry L Turrell, Author

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

THE POWER OF PEPTO-BISMOL--Prevents Most "Traveler's Diarrhea"!

We Never Leave Home Without It!

Pepto-Bismol or the Generic Tablets Work!
    It’s common knowledge that “Traveler’s Diarrhea” can ruin a vacation. However, it seems few people take all of the steps needed to prevent it. Of course, most people are aware of the basics. Drinking purified water, not tap water, and plenty of it, is the first step. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water is important. Eating at reliable establishments with running water and sewer facilities seems to also be a key to staying healthy while traveling. Avoiding overexposure to sun and minimizing alcohol ingestion are often overlooked factors in helping the body fight off intestinal infections. All standard advice…

     But how many people realize the power of taking Pepto-Bismol® or the generic equivalent, bismuth subsalicylate, to prevent and even help treat many “Traveler’s Diarrheas”? “The U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that travelers can reduce the risk of intestinal woes by approximately 50 percent by taking Pepto-Bismol (either two ounces of liquid or two chewable tablets four times per day). Pepto-Bismol should not be taken for more than three weeks at a time, and anyone thinking about taking it as a preventative measure should follow the instructions and recommendations on the packaging.”
     We stock up on the generic tablets in the U.S. and bring several hundred with us each year when we return home to Sayulita. We never leave home without it—we always keep several boxes of both chewable and swallowable tablets in the motorhome and I carry some in my purse and backpack at all times, just in case! Pepto-Bismol has prevented ruined vacations for us many times.
     Even after living in México for over three years, and traveling in this country for over twenty-five years, Jon and I still occasionally eat something that causes that rumbling and grumbling in our intestines a few hours later that indicates a virus or bacteria is “trying to infect” us. We immediately take two Pepto-Bismol or bismuth subsalicylate tablets with a large glass of water. Usually one dose of two tablets takes care of the problem for us.
     For best results, we pay attention to those intestinal rumblings and start taking Pepto-Bismol right away. Waiting until the diarrhea has already started may be too late. That’s when I think, why did I wait? This could have been prevented! Now I won’t feel good enough to go out for dinner for days!
     I’ve often wondered why more people don’t know about the power of Pepto-Bismol. When I was practicing as a pharmacist and patients asked for my recommendation to prevent “Traveler’s Diarrhea”, I always recommended the course of prevention and treatment I’ve listed below. Many have thanked me for the information. It’s not for everyone, but if your doctor agrees, you may want to give this a try. *

“Traveler’s Diarrhea” Prevention*
     Pepto-Bismol® (bismuth subsalicylate) has antibacterial properties, meaning it kills some bacteria that cause diarrhea, including E. coli. It also prevents diarrhea by retarding the expulsion of fluids into the digestive system through irritated tissues, by "coating" them, and it reduces inflammation and irritation of stomach and intestinal lining.
     Jon and I have found that it is very useful to prevent “Traveler’s Diarrhea” when entering México and other countries, especially the first couple of times we visit a new country. We even have to resort to taking it for a couple of weeks when returning to the United States after living in México for nine months. It’s as though our gastrointestinal system has adapted to the microorganisms in the food in México, and the bacteria in the U.S. have become “foreign” to us.
     One of the worst cases of foodborne diarrhea I’ve ever experienced occurred on the first day back in the U.S. after traveling for six months throughout México. I hadn’t been taking Pepto-Bismol for months as my system had adjusted to food in México. I didn’t think I needed to take it since we were going to a nice restaurant for an expensive steak dinner, which was delicious. I was so sick that night. I learned my lesson. Now, after an extended time out of the United States, I start taking Pepto-Bismol the day before entering the country and continue for at least a week, according to the schedule below.

Here is the Pepto-Bismol schedule that works for us:
·       Week 1 – 2, Beginning 24 hours before entry into area of risk
     Take two Pepto-Bismol or bismuth subsalicylate 262mg tablets by mouth three or four times daily for two weeks. Increase dosage as needed according to signs and symptoms of intestinal upset from food and water, but not more than sixteen tablets daily.
(Note: the amount of salicylate at this dose has some blood thinning properties. If you take aspirin or any medication containing aspirin, consult your physician about possibly adjusting your aspirin dose during this period. If you suffer from VWD or any other disorder associated with thin blood or anemia, consult your physician before taking bismuth subsalicylate. We decrease our 81mg aspirin dose from one tablet daily to one tablet every other day during this period.)
·       Week 3 – 4
             Take two bismuth subsalicylate 262 mg tablets by mouth twice daily. If signs of intestinal irritation from food or water begin (“gurgling” or “grumbling” sounds and feelings of intestinal “churning”, upset stomach, mild diarrhea, etc.), increase dose to two tablets three or four times daily until symptoms subside, or as needed but not more than sixteen tablets daily.
       ·       Week 5 – 6
            Take one bismuth subsalicylate 262mg tablet twice daily. Increase dosage as needed according to signs and symptoms of intestinal upset from food and water, but not more than sixteen tablets daily.
       ·       Week 7 on
            Take two bismuth subsalicylate 262mg tablets by mouth only when needed for signs and symptoms of intestinal upset from food and water, up to a maximum of two tablets eight times daily.

     “Traveler’s Diarrhea” Treatment*
      If “Traveler’s Diarrhea” occurs (severe diarrhea and cramping, sometimes accompanied by vomiting), we stop taking bismuth subsalicylate and begin taking Cipro® (ciprofloxacin) 500mg tablets by mouth twice daily for three days. We also stop taking all minerals for three days (Calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, chromium, selenium, vitamins with minerals, antacids such as Tums® and Mylanta®, etc.) which decrease the effectiveness of the ciprofloxacin. Consult a physician, especially if the diarrhea does not improve within 48 hours of beginning the ciprofloxacin. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluid. Gatorade® and ginger ale are beneficial.

*Before taking Pepto-Bismol or bismuth subsalicylate to prevent or treat “Traveler’s Diarrhea”, I recommend checking with your physician to be sure it is acceptable for your medical history and age. Caution in children under age 12. Some side effects may occur. Read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bismuth_subsalicylate 

     I invite you to sign up for my "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newletter", published monthly, with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and new about my books. Click Here to Sign Up

     Be on the lookout for my newest book, "Life in Mexico: Never a Dull Moment (Healthy Living in Mexico #4)". Available soon on Amazon!