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



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

A Day Trip to LaJungus, Bolivia, 1970

In January 1970, my husband Martin was invited to counsel Peruvian and Bolivian farmers in poultry husbandry for the International Executives Service Corp. (IESC). He worked with William Hannan, an English farmer with poultry operations throughout Latin America. Hannan was the regional distributor for Highline Hatcheries and provided extension services in poultry raising for his clients.  Although provisions were made for me to accompany my husband, my children were quite young and it was difficult to have someone stay with them for about two months, the length of the assignment. I was able to join Marty for ten, exciting days.


On one memorable occasion, six of us were scheduled to visit farmers, in LaJungus, the jungle, in the most southernly region of Bolivia. Our group included Hannan, Kevin McCauliffe, a former Peace Corp Volunteer and assistant to Hannan, Dr. Tao, the veterinarian, Carlos, our driver, Marty and me.  We had flown from Lima, Peru, to LaPaz the night before, and began our trip to LaJungus, at daybreak, in an International, double cab pickup truck. LaPaz nests among mountains with the highest elevations in Bolivia, (13,500ft.) and it is common for travelers to get “sirochi” or altitude sickness in that area.  While the hotel provided oxygen to help the guests cope with sirochi, there was none available in the car and we were all affected in some way, with either headache, nausea, or vomiting. As the only woman in the group, I experienced “sirochi” in a way no man could. I got  my period, completely off schedule  and was hemorrhaging, profusely. I had anticipated traveling through areas with extreme climates in the course of one day. When we left LaPaz, it was quite cold, and I wore a black quilted raincoat over white silk pants, and kept the raincoat on for a good part of the day, even when we were in warm areas. I was determined not to let my discomfort and embarrassment prevent me from enjoying the culture and scenery observed.

Herds of llama and alpaca grazed throughout the Andes. We saw trucks carrying crates of bananas from the tropics. The workers, people of all ages and possibly from the same family, sat on top of the crates. On the way back we noticed trucks carrying supplies to the jungle, with the workers, again, perched on top of the cargo. We stopped at a mountain village and saw people squatting close together, chewing on cocoa leaves and drinking cocoa tea. The cocaine in the cocoa numbed the peoples’ senses making them both immune to the cold and to pangs of hunger. I tried the cocoa tea but it didn’t seem to have any effect on me.

The Andes are known for avalanches. Think of any mountain pass and imagine any of these passes with shear drops and no guard rails or warnings. This is what we encountered on our route to LaJungus. We got out of the truck and walked around. My husband who is not phlegmatic by nature, was exceptionally calm; while I was wondering if I would ever see my children again. Out of nowhere, people appeared with shovels, and dug our truck out of the avalanche. Carlos, our driver, took off his coat , climbed into the cab of the truck and announced that we were “Ready for Oction”.  We all climbed into our seats and were on our way to LaJungus.

It was hot in the jungle of LaJungus and I was still wearing my black raincoat. We tried to locate the party who would meet us and learned that he was in Caroica, several miles away. While we were having lunch we met a young Diocenes priest from the U.S., dressed in hiking boots, jeans and a plaid shirt. After hearing about our escapades, he casually remarked “Oh, we lose a few each month over those mountains.”  It was still early in the day and we decided that if we got some rest we could make it to Caroica that afternoon. The five guys and I entered a hotel, and Marty told the desk clerk that the “Senora would like a room.” I wished the floor would open up and swallow me. We did get three rooms though, and Marty and I were able to shower and nap.

Caroica is a town in the mountains, known for coffee production, and the  aroma of the roasting coffee embraced the entire community.  Our hotel was previously a school or a monastery. Again, we were in a climate with cool weather. I was in long pants, shoes and socks and a beautiful handknit alpacca poncho. The women in Caroica, wore Derby hats, full skirts and were barefoot as they carried their babies in blankets on their backs. To this day, when I smell roasting coffee, I’m reminded of Caroica.