No, we don’t mean when you haven’t been able to get signal on your i-phone for sixteen hours to update the Facebook status of your sunburn…
These are a few suggestions to help you make a phone call when you urgently need to – for example if your driver and van haven’t arrived to pick you up from the airport or you’re hopelessly lost on a dirt road in front of a pulperia instead of pulling up to your luxury resort – if you don’t have a cell phone, don’t have signal (common in beach and rural areas), haven’t purchased a local SIM for your unlocked phone yet and really need to make a call.
Who You Gonna’ Call?
If it’s a medical, fire or police emergency call 911.
If you need urgent assistance call the local 24 hour emergency contact number provided by the travel service that reserved your vacation. If we plan your travel we’ll provide each member of your party with waterproof emergency contact cards with a 24/7/365 phone number.
If you’re traveling on your own try the car rental agency contact numbers (most are available during extended office hours but 24 hr roadside assistance is rarely…never?…included) or check your guidebook for the number of the hotel you’re planning to stay in.
Borrow a Phone
Both landlines and mobile voice calls are inexpensive (for locals – international roaming can be a whole different story) and as long as you don’t look like you might run off with it most people will let you borrow their phone to make a quick call.
Hotels, restaurants, bars, stores and other businesses are also usually amenable to letting you use their phone.
Even if you have a mobile phone you may end up needing to borrow someone else’s or find a land line. There are several providers and different frequency bands that have different areas of coverage so even though you have zero bars the person on the next beach towel over might have three or four.
Public Pay Phones & Calling Cards
Public phones are still very common in Costa Rica and you’ll find them in some amazingly out of the way places.
Some pay phones still accept 100 colon coins but most have been converted to require a calling card.
You can purchase the cards at nearly any little convenience store for a dollar or two which should give you close to an hour of talk time.
You do not need to have the actual calling card to place a call. You only need the card number so any group or family can buy one card, write down the number, and all use the same credits for emergency calls.
The cards also work from any landline so if you’re using the phone in someone’s house you can charge it to the card instead of their account.
The cards do not work for international long distance.