Say “Ah”

I hate to tell you how much it cost Marty and I to maintain our teeth during the past year. Although we’re not aging, our teeth are. Since we’re too young to have dentures, we’ve opted to have our teeth repaired or replaced. Our son also needs a dental implant and is using our oral surgeon. The Kleins’ have provided both the dentist and the oral surgeon with an annuity. In fact, they each can retire, but they enjoy their work. I appreciate their work too.

Dentists in several countries had the opportunity to serve us. When I was in Tunisia in 1989,  I developed some problems with a wisdom tooth. The Tunisian dentist labored diligently, and saved the tooth. It wasn’t until last year that I had to have that tooth extracted. I recounted the story to my dentist, and mentioned that I felt that American dentists are too quick to extract wisdom teeth.

On our last visit to Bolivia in 1991, my husband had a toothache and was referred to a dentist, who did his training in Argentina. Dr. Jimenez’s facilities were in an old factory or office building which I believe he owned. Jimenez practiced orthodontics as well as general dentistry and the suites for each of these specialties were beautifully decorated. Dr. Jimenez examined Marty’s teeth and the diagnosis was that he needed “rrrroot canal, post, and crown” at “$170.00 dollahs, cash.”  Marty asked him when he could start and he said “Right now!” We brought the payment and noticed that the drawer was full of greenbacks, even though most of the patients probably were not “Gringos.”

The work was completed in about a week’s time because Marty’s appointments were every working day, and sometimes, twice a day. When the crown was ready to be placed, the dental technician, who worked in the same building, joined Jimenez to make sure that the crown fit properly.

Shortly after my husband received his new tooth,  I had a problem with a tooth that he had fixed, and went through the same procedure.

Over the years, when either of us experienced dental problems, Marty suggested that we take a trip to Bolivia and see Dr. Jimenez.

With current airfares, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.

With great-grandson Azariah

With great-grandson Azariah

 

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Bolivia Revisited with Jack and Jane

We met Jack and Jane Zeigler in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 1991, at the Arenal Hotel, where we all were staying. We and the Zeiglers, were working on agricultural projects with VOCA (Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance.) Jack, the head of the Department of Food Science at Penn State University, was conducting a feasibility study on opening up a pork slaughtering plant in Santa Cruz.   Jane, the daughter of farmers, taught school and was assisting Jack. Marty and I consulted with poultry farmers, helping them to improve their skills in poultry husbandry.

We spent most of our free time with the Zeiglers, dining together, touring Santa Cruz and traveling to other areas in Bolivia. On some occasions we accompanied each other to various sites. Abraham, a farmer whom Jack and Marty visited, was extremely pleased with Marty’s suggestions. When Marty mentioned that his father’s name was Abraham, he said that he knew that Marty was sent by G-d.  When we noticed a group of school children playing soccer with a beat up ball, we scoured all of Santa Cruz for a new soccer ball, which delighted the children.

The Zeiglers invited us one weekend to visit a neighboring community, Samaipata, and look up an Austrian sculptress whom they heard about.  We trekked across the hot desert to find her home.  unnamed-2unnamed-4 I purchased a small piece of pottery and they bought a terra cotta figurine of a mythical female character. Since this was an intricate piece, they were worried about getting it home without breaking it. I suggested wrapping the “Lady” in their underwear.

Jack & the sculptress

Jack & the sculptress

When we stopped for coffee in Samaipata, someone brought the proprietor of the restaurant a bag of apples. She suggested that we return in a couple of hours for freshly baked strudel. We accepted her invitation and happily devoured her delicious strudel.  Jane was cautious about eating only foods that were cooked or could be peeled. She’d order bottled water “san hielo”, without ice, and no familiar with the restaurants in  Samaipata, stuck to their own rations of  bananas and granola bars.

One evening we treated ourselves to steak at a prestigious restaurant in Santa Cruz. The salad was mouth watering and Marty proclaimed that he was going to eat that salad even if we didn’t. We all ate the salad. The four of us enjoyed onion soup and banana crepes flambeau, at a French bistro in Santa Cruz.

Jack and Jane were very closely involved with their family, and in the community where they lived, and with their church. They were both extremely gracious hosts, when we visited them at their home in State College, Pennsylvania. Both had excellent culinary skills. Jack surprised us with creative breakfasts and Jane cooked everything else.

We’ve been in close contact, but it had  been quite a while since we were able to get together. When we visited them this January, Jack showed us the changes in State College. He is still involved in Food Science studies at Penn State University. Jack told us that with globalization and with food coming from all over the globe, much of the work that Penn State is doing is in analysis of imported foods.

Now Jane seemed to be almost completely dependent on Jack. She probably didn’t remember us. I so wanted to show her the beautiful hand knit alpaca sweater I wore that that I  had bought when we were all together in Santa Cruz.  unnamed-1

Thermopolis, Wyoming: Hot Springs

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“This will be our last trip,” my father told me, shortly after I retrieved my bag from the tiny airport in Worland, Wyoming. This year marks their 20th visit to Thermopolis, the largest town and the county seat of Hot Springs County.  As of the 2010 census the town population was 3,009. The local 9th-12th grade high school serves 185 students.

They come for the waters that they claim heals, or at least, eases, their various aches and pains.  Produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth’s crust,  the springs feed into the pools. The natural minerals require no chlorine or other chemical additives though the air smells like sulfur.

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With the exception of one year, they drive, usually in the heart of winter, preferring the flexibility of their own car and timetable. They have visited friends along the way and return, sometimes traveling as far…

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We Can’t Go Back Now: Tunisia, Egypt, Syria

When my husband, Martin and I served in the Peace Corp in l989, in Tunisia, we learned the language and studied the culture, while traveling through much of the country. Our sites included a tour of the ruins at Carthage. We became familiar with Mid-Eastern cuisine and were able to prepare a good Tunisian couscous. Stateside, we managed to substitute foods that were available for a Tunisian meal.  We are in contact with many life-long friends. But we can’t go to Tunisia now.

On a trip to Egypt, we immersed ourselves in Egyptian mythology.  At the museum in Cairo we saw the mummified remains of the pharaohs and other rulers of ancient times. While cruising the Nile between Cairo and Luxor we witnessed people swimming in the Nile River without any fear of crocodiles. There supposedly were thousands of crocodiles walled on the other side of the Aswan Dam. However, when we visited the Aswan Dam, not a single croc showed its face. We can’t go to Egypt today.

A three- day excursion to Damascus, Syria, was included in a visit to Jordon and Israel. We combed the shouk, hunting for special spices that friends and relatives requested. Marty and I walked through the entire old city and quenched our thirst with marvelous mango drinks. When people learned that we were from the U.S., we were welcomed.  We can’t go to Syria now.