Thursday, July 30, 2009
Being that my time is winding down here in Guatemala, I must take advantage of the good things(read: cheap things)that are available here. I am currently in Antigua, which represents all that Guatemala is not; safe including real police, free of street dogs, amazing restaurants, etc. It´s heaven for me since I am really not too keen on the real Guatemala right now.
One of the benefits of being in a third world(read: cheap)country is the availability of medical and dental care that is as good as, if not sometimes better than in my own country. One of the best things too is that it is always possible to get an appointment the same day you call, amazing. God bless the Latinos inability to plan ahead. I love calling to make an appointment, they barely take my name(usually only my first name anyways), let alone any bullcrap insurance information or guarantee of payment. In fact, I have to ask them if they want to take my phone number.
I had visited a dentist in a town on the lake about two months ago and had a cleaning and a couple of fillings. One of the fillings was becoming very sensitive, and I had no intentions of returning to the same dentist since he pissed me off royally one day by yelling at me like a freakin´ 6-year-old child for using the bathroom in his building whilst wandering the town. I knew there would be a plethora of amazing dentists here in Antigua since Antigua has all that is right and good in the world(read: all that is cheap and good in the world). I happened to run into another ex-pat gringa in my same hotel here and asked her for a recommendation for a dentist here in Antigua.
I hunted down the office and made an appointment for, you bet, the same day. I went on Monday afternoon and she examined the tooth, said the filling was too high, meaning it wasn´t properly shaped after being filled, then proceeded to fix me up proper. She also mentioned the other seven(!!!)small cavities I had and made appointments to fill the others. Hey, life as a candy junkie isn´t all good, but it sure is sweet. Ha, ha, I´m seriously funny.
At this point I was willing to do whatever she said, her damn beautiful brown eyes and her smarts, speaking to me in her dental spanish. I have had only a few harmless, fleeting crushes on women in my life, and well, the hot Guatemalan dentista is now one of them. Oh, Doctora Muñoz. . . how I want you to fix all my teeth.
Back on track. I went yesterday to do one side of my mouth, as numbing the whole mouth can cause tounge choking death. First, however, I must mention that it was just me and two Catholic nuns in the waiting room, one really old and one really young. Imagine this, we are in the waiting room of the dentist office sitting across from each other. I´m in a spaghetti strap tanktop and shorts and these two are looking at me and my giant skull tattoos as though they are witnessing the devil herself. After a moment and a friendly "Buenas tardes" from me, I noticed the young one reading her mini travel bible as though to keep the demons tattooed on my leg from coming alive and kissing their virgin lips. Classic!!
Hot doctora examined me and said we could do this without anesthesia since the cavities were all very shallow. Sounds horrendous, but for me, I hate the mouth numbing, the giant needle in my throat, and the taste of blood after chewing up of the inside of my cheeks afterwards since I cannot feel anything. Plus I had popped a preemptive Guatemalan vicodin since drilling at the dentist always sucks. I was game.
Hour and a half later, she had fixed the five small ones on the left side, taking meticulous detail to file and shape them properly. This was love. She had another patient after me, a screaming niño, whom only was there for x-rays. After that she said she had time and could fix the other side, being that no drugs were being used. Again, fine by me, getting it over with in one shot is better. So she did the other two and I´m feeling all dapper, ready to break in my my new teeth parts by celebrating with a dinner of pure candy. Yay!
God bless her, not only for being hot, but I mean, what dentist is like "No necesitamos usar anestesia, porque son pequeñas(we don´t need to use anesthesia since your cavities are small)."? Really, it was so much better this way. Saving me money and chewed up cheeks all at the same time.
Well, seven fillings and an x-ray later, I walked out paying just shy of $200 for everything. I know you must all think I´m a fool for leaving this place. But the cheap dental care just makes up for the price of all the stolen things that are no longer mine and must be bought again.
Thus, my dental experience comes to a close in Guatemala. I have one more appointment on Saturday, which was originally set to do the other cavities, but I will go just to make sure there is no adjusting of the fillings to do after a few days of settling in. That being said, sadly, mine and Doctora Muñoz´s relationship is over, I am scheduled with another dentista. It´s okay though, some things aren´t meant to last. Plus if I keep up my candy and brownie habit, I´ll be back to the dentista in no time!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Upon first glance, these Mayan people are charming as hell. "Oh, the Mayans, and their ancient culture. Their typical clothing, and their native languages, their cute brown babies running the streets" are among some of the things I have said and thought. However after months of living here, I have seen all sides, and now I only look at these people in disgust.
My ability to post photos was stolen the other day, from my house, in broad daylight as my brother and I ate dinner in a nearby restaurant. A group of little shits climbed over my front door/gate and stole my backpack sitting on a bench, inside the bag was my camera. My camera had every single photo I have taken since living here. Gone.
This robbery comes only two short weeks after our house was broken into as we slept one night and my former roommates $7000 computer was stolen(she is a videojournalist, her only reason for traveling with something so expensive). That was her second computer stolen in her time in Guatemala. She will likely not return to finish the documentary. "Why am I here helping these people when this is what they do to me?" she said the morning after discovering her second computer was gone. I could not agree more amiga.
These people steal every chance they get. Charging us more for the same bus ride as the locals/other natives, charging us more for the same damn food in the market. Looking us up and down before quoting a price for anything, just to make sure they can milk us for every single Quetzal(Guatemalan currency)they can squeeze out of us. My same friend whom had her computer stolen, had her clothes and shoes stolen as her and her brother swam in some natural limestone pools in the jungles here. Gone for ten minutes and when they returned, no clothes and shoes. Clothes and shoes! They stop at nothing.
If you can even believe this madness, you are probably asking yourselves why I am choosing to live like this. I am not going to as of August 17. I have had a trip to North Africa planned, with my departure from Guatemala being August 17. The plan was to return to Guatemala after my two months in Africa, but I won´t. I cannot and will not live like this.
I cannot pass any natives in the streets with any inkling of a positive thought. I´m looking at every 14-year-old boy, looking for my backpack on his back. Saying Hola to these people is not something I really do anymore. I do not want to live with this resentment and bitterness, thus, it´s time to move on. Barbers without borders will be crossing this border to likely never return.
I know as well as anyone, that robberies happen everywhere. But it´s the particular way of thievery here that I will not tolerate. They think we are all rich beyond our wildest dreams and they can steal all they want, because we have endless riches to buy to more. Unfortunately, money cannot buy back my 8 months of photos.
It is racist, plain and simple. As victims of racism, I would think the Mayans wouldn´t perpetuate more, but it seems to be all they know. This place will not develop, ever, if these people keep up with their own cycle of repression. Ripping off the very people that are trying to help them break free of their dysfunctional lifestyle.
Maybe you are also asking yourselves, why not stay and help? Once you give here, they just take more, something I have learned the hard way. People like me come here, our heads swimming with ideas and intentions to help. After time, and disappointment after disappointment, 95% of us gain my current attitude. We can´t even help these people, they do not include us, they do not respect us. They use us and spit us out, with their hands in our pockets the entire time. I´m sure there are success stories with helping native Mayans, but I have not heard any except in story books. Every single expatriate that I know with real time spent here in San Pedro, has little if nothing to do with the natives due to endless negative experiences. Not to mention a deep bitterness attached to it.
This place has broken my heart. Nothing looks the same here, nothing feels the same. And to be very honest, this place doesn´t deserve me.