Sometimes I can't remember what I've shared here, because we've talked about it so much IRL,
so here's the deal...
Kerry has rotten teeth.
It's so very unfair.
I've never known anyone so diligent about brushing and flossing,
yet whose teeth are literally rotting out of his head.
By which I mean,
little pieces keep breaking off.
Which is extra fabulous because we have no dental insurance.
Oh the joys of being self-employed under the Obama administration,
but I digress...
Found a local dentist who did a (cheap!) exam and x-rays, and came up with an itemized treatment plan, which might as well involve skiing in Aspen or mining rare minerals on the moon for all its relevance to our current financial status.
He needed several crowns, at $1700 a pop.
And a "deep cleaning" (scaling) - $900.
And a new night guard, to keep him from grinding - $400.
And then I got an email.
Our missionary friend had to get a wisdom tooth pulled in Thailand.
It cost $30.
Yes, you read that right.
The wheels started turning in my head...
Bangkok is too far and too expensive,
but there had to be other alternatives.
And there are...
much closer to home.
Right across the border from Yuma, Arizona...
We did our research and chose the Sani Dental Clinic, in Aldogones, Mexico.
Going across the border was kind of bizarre. You just walk right into Mexico. Nobody asks you anything. Nobody looks in your bag. Nobody wants to see any paperwork. Nobody bats an eye. We left our car in a huge parking lot, and just walked into Mexico.
Now if you watch a lot of news, and I tell you we just walked into a Mexican border town, you might be a little alarmed. Don't be. Judging by the cars in the lot, hundreds - if not thousands - of people do this every day. And the town felt safe.
Granted, there are cultural differences, and I'm not a fan of the constant barrage of people wanting to escort me to their dentist or their pharmacy or their little shop. And when I say, "No thank you," I actually mean "no" not "make me a better deal", so that can be a bit wearying. But not scary.
And it seems like everybody in Algodones speaks English. And accepts American dollars ;D
And the dentists! I've heard that in the last census, there were 350 in a little town of about 5000. That's a lot of dentists. And they all have "representatives" trying to steer you to their office.
I don't get that. I mean, I wouldn't walk down the streets of my own town and pick a dentist at random! No thanks, we'll stick with the one we've already researched.
It didn't take ten minutes to get from the border crossing to the Sani clinic.
And I was glad we had directions (and I'd looked at the google street view) because they were painting the outside of the building and there was no sign! It doesn't look like much on the outside, but inside... everything was clean and modern, and the people were friendly and professional. Kerry had x-rays and a consultation with Dr. Mike and we decided on a plan. And what a plan. This isn't exactly your typical vacation, YKWIM? A deep cleaning (scaling), a new mouth guard, and twelve crowns. Yes, TWELVE.
So we did the math. At home, in the budget clinic we found, that would run us $21,710 before tax. (Is there tax on dental work? I have no idea.) At Sani, the total cost... $2150. And they ended up knocking it down a bit because they took an extra day.
Do the math, friends, that is nearly a 90% savings. Ka-ching! But still a lot of money. And NO, I was not in the market for...
unique carvings that wouldn't fit in my carry-on anyway, or...
or t-shirts, or back-packs, or table cloths. Love all the bright colors, though!
They went ahead and did the deep cleaning, and we were done before noon. To tell the truth, as friendly as they all were, it was a bit overwhelming and I was glad to head back to our hotel... our little oasis in the desert. Because I open the door of our room to see this:
Something pretty and flowery...
And gardenia bushes, and the pool.
Oh, Toto, we are most definitely not in Washington any more!
Which is just perfect, because let me tell you, my idea of a relaxing vacation is somewhere warm and sunny, with a beach or a pool :D Kerry, however, is not as good at relaxing as I am, so after a little siesta in the sun, we headed out to see what Yuma had to offer.
Friends, let me tell you, there is a reason that you don't see a lot of vacation packages to Yuma. It's not a bad place, it's just... well... go ahead and google "Things to do in Yuma" and you'll see what I mean. And most of the things on the list aren't actually in Yuma anyway. The highlight of the list is the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park.
In case that was confusing, it's an old prison.
It's up on a hill above the Colorado River, which apparently used to be a lot bigger, and could only be easily crossed in this area. And by "easily crossed" I mean "you might not die".
Kerry took about a hundred pictures of this Catholic Mission. I don't know if it qualifies as "historical", being from the '20s, but it did look a bit out of place and time next to the huge tanks.
Apparently the prison itself, and everything in it, was made by the prisoners. This huge watch tower was built to cover the water cistern to prevent evaporation. And to keep an eye on the prisoners, of course.
Right below was the sally-port - a gate with two iron doors far enough apart to get horses and a wagon between them. Reminded me in an odd way of going in and out of the butterfly habitat at Seattle's Pacific Science Center.
One of the buildings has been turned into a museum, with lots of unique exhibits - and air conditioning! (Did I mention it was hot? In the 90s? It was hot.)
Apparently this lady - Madora Ingalls - stopped a jail break.
With this very Gatling Gun.
And the prisoners were a lively bunch. But this one surprised me.
Can you believe that? There was quite a bit of it. Can you imagine a prisoner making that?
They even had a library.
The prison seemed to have different layers of hell...
These cells must have been for the well-behaved prisoners. Two to a cell.
Most of the cells had six bunks, and were back-to-back with another cell.
There were big iron rings in the floor. If one prisoner in a cell made trouble, all of them were chained to the floor. Maybe it was an impetus for positive peer pressure?
The worst prisoners went to The Dark Cell.
It was cut deep into a wall, and had a cage on the floor (only the bottom remains).
The only light came from this little hole in the ceiling.
Well. Enough of that.
Yuma does have some nice parks and trails along the river.
Kerry was intrigued by this solar array that feels kind of like an art installation.
All the playgrounds are covered. If it doesn't have a tent over it, it's too hot to play on.
And there's a 1907 train, where the first bridge crossed the river.
So right there, in one afternoon, we knocked about half the Top Ten Things To Do In Yuma off the list ;D
We topped off the day with dinner at Lute's Casino - a rather eclectic place. Good food. Not fancy. Good prices. And plenty to look at to occupy your time until your food comes!
Did you notice the school banner, in the photo just above? Apparently the Yuma high school burned in 1910 and they used the (empty) prison building for three years. When they beat a rival school in a football championship, the sore losers called them "Criminals" and the name stuck. Now that's their mascot. Go figure.
Arizona has done something unique beside their freeways. Instead of landscaping, they have rock art. Kerry loved it.
I was more interested in the full moon rising.
And that was Monday.