Walking back from yoga yesterday, I Just happened upon a parade heading west on Calle 34 Norte. And not just any parade, this one was a kiddie bike (or any other wheeled vehicle) parade, so of course I had to whip out my camera for a few photos.
I don't know exactly what the parade was for as there were no signs and virtually no spectators other than a couple other random people who were also walking in the area. Maybe it was a nursery school group. The children and some of the parents or teachers were dressed up in colorful costumes, and kids and adults were braving a rare chilly, blustery morning here in Playa.
Check out this adorableness. It was a really short parade; I had to grab photos fast or I would have missed it completely.
There were a few drummers keeping the beat.
And there they go!
One little guy and his dad, I guess, were stragglers. Several cars passed on Avenida 20 between the main body of the parade and these two before they made it across the road. If this tiny cyclist isn't cheek-pinching cute, I don't know who is.
It's fun to run across something unexpected like this here in PDC. Everyone seemed to be having fun even on a chilly morning, and seeing it brought a smile to my face for the rest of my walk.
A dental cleaning in Mexico!
I'll be the first to admit that I (Emily) am a complete wimp when it comes to all things dental. Although I have had lots of dental work over the years, I am really sensitive to the slightest pain in my mouth, and I whip myself into an advanced state of anxiety whenever I contemplate even a dental cleaning. Back in North Carolina, when I needed to get a crown or root canal, I opted for "conscious sedation" in order to avoid the anxiety, and it was a godsend for me, despite the extra cost that wasn't covered by the dental insurance I had at the time. I wish they could just knock me out for cleanings too, but that's not an option, so I just sweat it out -- literally.
Since I am such a dental-phobe, I had put off going in for a cleaning since we returned from Belize. I'd found a great dentist on Ambergris Caye, retired from his practice in Minnesota, and his sweet wife (a hygienist who is his assistant) even gave me nitrous oxide for my cleaning when I told her how nervous was. Score!
I had heard that Mexican dentistry was quite good and much less expensive than in the US, so I had been planning to get my teeth cleaned when we got here. I managed to drag my feet until I caught a bad cold, which necessitated waiting a few more weeks, since I didn't want to cough in the poor dentist's face!
But finally, I could avoid my fear no longer and made an appointment -- through email, no less! I'd found a dental practice (http://playadentist.com/) that was highly regarded on the Playa forum I read, and the dentist spoke English, a huge plus, since I needed to be able to answer his questions, and my Spanish is still weak, especially when I am anxious, when everything I've learned seems to fly right out of my head.
Barry and I took a reconnaissance walk up to the office a few days ahead so I wouldn't have any trouble finding it when the time for my appointment came. On the same street, we were amazed to see this huge and beautiful mural. In all likelihood I would never have had the pleasure of seeing this if I hadn't decided to go to the dentist, so I guess it was meant to be!
At last the day had come, and I walked over to the dental office with fear in my heart. It's in a very attractive and tidy Mexican-style home, and it would be easy to miss the small sign on the door indicating that this is a dental practice.
When I walked in, I was greeted by a clean and airy waiting room, but there was no receptionist's window! Hmmmm, I wasn't quite sure what to do. Fortunately, a young woman walked out from the back, and I was able to indicate to her that I had an appointment in my halting Spanglish. She seemed to speak only Spanish, but perhaps she did speak English and just wasn't letting on.
While I was waiting, I thumbed through some glossy Spanish magazines with ads for beautiful restaurants and resorts, mostly in Cancun. There were a few dental related posters on the walls, and other than everything being in Spanish, I could have been in an US dental waiting room.
A few minutes later, Dr. Jorge Armenta came out and greeted me, and although he spoke Spanish to me at first, once I told him my Spanish was not good, he switched to English, which he spoke perfectly. What a relief!
Here's where things started to get very, very different from a US practice: I filled out no paperwork. Nada. Even more surprising and interesting, Dr. Armenta himself did the cleaning! In the US, the hygienist cleans, and the dentist usually just comes in at the end and pokes around for about 30 seconds, so this was really different.
Aside from that, the office was not different from a nice dentist's office in the US. It was sparkling clean, and all the equipment appeared state-of-the-art. I was impressed! Dr. Armenta even used an Ultrasonic cleaning machine, just like my dentist in the US and the American dentist in Belize. This is not my favorite instrument as the high-pitched sound reminds me of a cross between a determined mosquito and the dental drill (i.e., instrument of torture), but it does do a good job. Every now and then it will hit a sensitive place, so my muscles are always tensed up, and and I have to remind myself to breathe while it's doing its magic.
I got a bit of a lecture from the dentist about waiting so long between cleanings, and he even asked if I was a smoker! I'm not at all that, but I know the backs of my teeth were stained from some of my other "vices": coffee, blueberries, and red wine. Fortunately, he was able to take care of the staining and some plaque build-up in short order, and after doing so, he said things didn't actually look too bad. I felt like he did a really good job, taking his time, and was as gentle as any hygienist I've experienced. He was a total professional!
The final surprise was that I paid Dr. Armenta directly, not a receptionist. And the cost was a very reasonable $600 MXN (just a little over $40 USD).
Although going to the dentist is never what I'd classify as fun, this experience was as good as it gets for me. If you are ever in need of a dental cleaning in Playa del Carmen, I can recommend Dr. Jorge Armenta without hesitation. Since I haven't had any further dental work done here, I can't speak to that, but I have no reason to believe that he wouldn't do just as good a job on other procedures.
Like most folks, I love music -- always have. But since we sold our stereo equipment when we divested ourselves of most of our possessions several years ago, I've relied on digital music for most of my listening. I burned a bunch of my CDs onto my laptop before I sold them, and I've also purchased some MP3 singles and albums over the past few years, so I have a good bit of music on my laptop.
But I like listening to music when I work out and have not had a way to do that in Mexico until now. I do have an old, first-generation MP3 player in the US, but it has a tiny memory capacity and was filled up with our Pimsleur audio Spanish lessons anyway -- we used it to practice Spanish in our car as we drove through less populated areas of the US last year. So I didn't even bother bringing it to Mexico since I have the Pimsleur lessons on my laptop as well.
At the time, I had no idea that we'd find a fantastic running track just a couple of blocks from our rental here in Playa del Carmen and that I'd start running a couple of times a week.
I like running on a track for several reasons: it's safe from cars, bicycles, and erratic pedestrians; it has a soft, synthetic surface that is easy on my (aging) joints; and its even surface is a huge improvement on the many varied-height curbs on the roads and sidewalks here. But it can be tedious and boring going round and round without music as a distraction and a motivator. Believe me, when it comes to running, I need all the help I can get!
Enter my friend Cara in Rhode Island. With her late January trip to Isla Mujeres planned, she generously asked if there were any small things she might be able to bring to me that I couldn't get in Mexico. I'd looked in a few stores here for an MP3 player already but hadn't found anything affordable. All that seems to be available here are Apple products (i.e, iPods), and they're expensive. I didn't want to spend a lot, especially since I have little use for a player in the US -- I don't feel safe listening to music while cycling; and if I'm hiking or walking outdoors, I prefer to enjoy the sounds of nature around me.
So, I immediately realized that this would be something small that Cara could bring down for me; and it would be very inexpensive for me to purchase in the US and have shipped to her. I didn't need a lot of memory, 4 Gb would be plenty (especially when compared to my old player at 256 Kb!) Cara even helped me locate a small, inexpensive MP3 player on Amazon before I even had a chance to look!
I ended up ordering it on Ebay and shipping it to Cara's house. I got a SanDisk Sansa Clip+ 4Gb player in purple to go with the purple earbuds I already owned!
For under $40, I'd improve my running enjoyment and possibly even my efficiency. According to studies done of exercisers, listening to upbeat music delays feelings of discomfort and can increase people's ability to work out for longer or at a faster pace, and I totally believe it. For several years, I'd used my old MP3 player when running on the treadmill at the gym where I worked, and I know it helped me run farther and with less focus on any discomfort I might be feeling.
This article does a great job of summarizing this and other health (physical and mental) benefits of music, and there are a lot of them:
Five Ways Music Improves Our Health (Huffington Post, February 2, 2015)
Yesterday I finally loaded a good selection of my music onto my new little player. And I do mean little. It's tiny and weighs almost nothing. And best of all, it has a nice big clip on the back to attach to my clothing rather than having to wear a bulky armband. I see a lot of folks running with their large iPhones on their upper arms, and that just doesn't look comfortable to haul around at all.
Now if I could only get back to the track to try it out! I've had a really nasty cold for almost two weeks now that really blossomed right after our meet-up with Cara and her friend Mary in Isla Mujeres over a week ago. I've had a bad cough and a congested head, so running is out of the question. I'm also tired all the time, so even walking on the track sounds hard at this point. Hopefully I'll be back to my normal excellent health and energy level very soon.
Thanks to Cara for being a "mule" for me. Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference!
Music Image courtesy of fotographic1980 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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