The day that both of the tent poles finally broke at the same time after they had both been lightly repaired earlier that month was a sign that either that tent was getting no love or that I got it on a blow out sale for $19.99 in the middle of winter was maybe less to do with the season and more to do with it not being an “everyday tent”.
Next on this list would be my high use, low love boots. Ohh man those things endure a lot of sweaty days only to be tossed in the sun to dry out. They used to look more like weekend warriors boots that could match a washed daily Harley and bug free biker jackets worn around to impress the guy in the minivan behind you in the drive through at your local coffee joint. And personally aside from a diet sliding heavily into all things tortillas, beans and rice it seems simply brushing ones teeth wasn’t enough attention so we paid a little visit to the Dentist in Central America.
In my opinion all things medical in developing nations are a bit of a gamble; did anyone actually clean that drill after it was in the last two mouths, do they recycle needles here?, is that rusty tray going to be the tray holding my tongs?, did the doctor and his staff actually complete the required education on a world class level or did they just pay for the certificate and buy there way through school? The reality is I have no idea and once I’m on my back with my mouth propped open and a bright light in my face I really have no clue what is going on. So naturally we first consult the internet and get it’s opinion, checking who online has actually been to these places and if the reviews are in English. I know things like Face Book likes can be bought, hell it’s even pretty easy to get a bunch of fake reviews, thou one can usually tell if all the reviews are similar or completely different or not. So I narrowed it down to three potential dental offices and fired them off an email about availability, costs and to see how professional the response was.
Damn if they didn’t all give an almost identical response in stellar English. So I went with my gut feeling and choose the place whose photos looked the best.
This wouldn’t be my first overseas dental visit. When I moved to Thailand in 2007 with vague plans to open a bar and hostel out of thin air we visited the dentist. It seemed a lot of people would fly in from various parts of the world namely Australia to get dental work done in the city of Chiang Mai and make a vacation out of it for less then just the dental visit in their hone country. My then girlfriend got a set of veneers and I went in for a little cleaning and whitening. When I was laid back in the dental chair with a towel over my eyes the Thai dental assistant asked me something in broken English a few times and I couldn’t quite make it out so I just said yes. Naturally when you have no idea what’s going on in a medical facility overseas you just say yes.
Turns out she had been asking if it was ok to give me a foot massage while the dentist cleaned my teeth.
Ohhhhh my god!
So while one lady is gleaming my teeth back to a shimmering white shade, the other had my feet in warm water and massaged my claves and feet for the hour! If this was a practice in North America I feel regular checkups would be a lot more regular.
Unfortunately this would not repeat itself in Nicaragua.
When I got to the dental office, it looked much like any Canadian one I’d ever been to. Big bold lettering on the exterior, nice parking lot and a new Mercedes Benz SUV parked out front. I set up my overloaded and under cleaned motorbike next to the shinny SUV and headed indoors greeted by a kid who’s employed strictly to open and close the doors for the four appointments that had been made for that Saturday morning. The place was glistening like any sterile facility and the staff greeted me in English and Spanish. I met Dr Padilla and my ice breaker was to grill him a bit on the SUV he drove, as I was pretty sure based on the number of broken old trucks, cars held together with twine and ox cart set ups I’d seen that Benz SUVs we not driven by the masses.
Me: Hey ya Dr. nice place you have here. So do a lot of people in Nicaragua drive Benz SUVs? I haven’t seen too many waiting behind the chicken buses at a red light??
Expecting him to launch into a proud defense about how he’s one of the very few elite who can afford such a nice car I await his reply.
Dr: Actually I asked at the dealership when I bought that car and they said they sell on average about thirty new ones just like it every month. I see a number of people driving imports like new Dodge pick up trucks from North America, however I find them too large and I prefer the European imports, it’s a nicer vehicle to drive and I find they don’t require a lot of service.
OK, so he’s fielded this question before and isn’t falling into and of my baiting.
So we jump to a few questions about my teeth, health and overall well being oh and of course the bike. My heath is good, my teeth need to be cleaned and I tell him that I’ve been told he is the best dentist in the Americas so I drove all the way from Canada and I’m expecting quality results.
Me and my biker gear, him in his white coat make our way to the glistening white procedure room and get to work. The assistant greets me in Spanish and in no way offers up a foot massage or anything aside from some clear glasses to protect my eyes from my own saliva.
Like any good tourist I ask if I can take a couple of photos before we get started, they look at me like I just asked if we could do a nude photo shoot thou casually comply and force a smile pretending like everyone who comes into the office has the same request.
Half an hour later we’re all cleaned up and we head over to Dr. Padillas office for a little heart to heart. I see he has a host of awards and certificates for various achievements in his life and I’m feeling extra reassured. The Dr looks me in the eyes and like your third grade teacher giving you trouble for drawing on your desk he tells me that my two times a day attempt to brush my teeth needs be greatly amplified to include some flossing sessions and a mouthwash upgrade. He gives me about twenty micro samples of some medical grade toothpaste and prescribes some premium mouthwash to use for a couple weeks. After the gentle scolding we shake hands, I take another photo pay my $50USD bill with my credit card then head over to the pharmacy for the $18USD mouthwash.
My teeth feel like polished ivory tusks and I head to the closets place I can find with air conditioning to dirty them up with some lunch before launching into my two hours of getting lost in the most dangerous city in Nicaragua looking for my hotel room.
Dear Canadian dentist, based on my overseas appointments I would please like you to add a complementary one hour foot massage to the dental service and lower the appointment rate to $50. Thank you on behalf of the entire nation.