I'm trying to wrap up all my business in Puerto Vallarta before hitting the road in a couple of days. I stumbled upon a terrific dentist in Pitillal. She's probably in her mid-twenties. Now, first of all, going to the dentist in Mexico is a different breed of cat. They don't need no stinkin' dental dams, x-ray machines or expensive pain medications. You recline in shopworn dental chairs while disco music blares from boom boxes, and young female dental techs walk around the office in six-inch stilettos, skintight blue jeans and pushup bras that defy the laws of gravity.
Now lest you assume that all these factors make for bad dentistry, think again. Other than having to wait an extra week for my new teeth, my dentist was painstakingly careful about fitting the two crowns. Despite having only topical numbing medication while she carved away at my stumpy, decayed molars, I managed not to squirm too much, focusing on her cascading hair and perfectly stenciled eyebrows...When I was able to close my mouth, I taught her the difference between the English words for "rinse" and "spit."
I left the dental office having spent just under $300 for two new crowns and a refreshed filling. Why oh why, can't the US figure out the keys to quality, cost-effective dental care?
Burros on the Loose
Just on the other side of the arroyo outside my apartment windows are two donkeys, pathetically tied by ropes to their front legs, day in, day out, year in, year out. Israel and I have decided their braying is a plaintive cry for freedom from their slavelike existence as props for photos at Andale's, a popular tourist bar on Olas Altas. Every night, they are led off the steep hillside and a small patch of dirt where they are confined, to the street by the house where I live. The animals are fed a handful of oats and maybe some table scraps. The owner then rubs the evening's chosen donkey down with cheap rose-scented perfume (he says it's good for the "presentacion"), cinches on a saddle and covers it with a colorful Mexican blanket. I've noticed that the animals are undernourished and their fetlocks bloody from pulling at the ropes.
Well, a couple of days ago, Israel and I returned from an errand to see both donkeys had managed to get free and were running up and down the dead-end street, tripping on the cobble stones with the ropes trailing from their front legs. Everyone got out of the way as the donkeys ran helter skelter down the road and back again, with two teenage boys running after them. I wanted to yell, "Run! Run like the wind!" But where could they run, other than busy Olas Altas, dodging cars and condos . . . so many suffering animals here. And you can't save them all, hard as you try.
Bue the Warrior
Last week, my landlord Pilar had a visiting guest, a famous street artist called "Bue the Warrior." He is known for his colorful, cartoonish stencil art, used to tag buildings around PV with his birds and other figures, painted in spray paint. Pilar comissioned him to paint our dirty trash cans, which now feature multiple eyeballs and open mouths in white, black and hot pink...I only wish I'd been able to corner him to tag my van...