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A visit to the Dentist…. By JM (15-May-2012)

Posted by on May 15, 2012

Carol told me about some discomfort in her teeth.  Just a couple of months ago I had called Dr. Tenaka, the Peace Corps  Doctor charged with responsibly for the health of 160  PCVs in Botswana.  I had asked him about seeing a dentist since I traditionally clean my teeth every 6 months.  He told me the PC would pay for one cleaning per year, which wasn’t until September or so.  I resolved to wait it out and go just once a year while here.

But, now that Carol had an excuse to spend $60, and we made an appointment with the dentist  and went to town this morning for a checkup.  We had scheduled the appointment to coincide with another meeting which I had volunteered to help.  The Peace Corps  was hosting a meeting for a University from South Carolina with the good fortune of having enough money to send 19 people to Botswana for 3 weeks, all expenses paid, to see another culture.  The Peace Corps asked me and 3 other PCVs, all representing the 4 basic job functions (Life Skills (that’s Carol), Community Capacity Building, Non-Governmental Organizations and District/Community Liaisons (that’s me)) to come to the big city to share our experiences and perspectives with the hopes of getting these people to potentials to sign up for the Peace Corps.

So I went to the PC office for the workshop while Carol enjoyed a morning of shopping for a sweater with both of our ATM cards.   After the workshop we met for lunch and then headed off to our first Botswana dentist appointment.  When we arrived at the clinic, we were welcomed.   I went first as Carol sat in the room with me, surveying the environment.   The room was quite up to specs with modern dentist chairs, signs on the wall about using clean tools and health concerns, and a dentist with a mask and gloves.  We were pretty comfortable.

This was only a cleaning, so no X-rays were in order.  When I sat in the dentist chair and she started poking and probing I couldn’t help but be consumed with thoughts about this being an AIDS stricken country and wondering about the quality of the dentistry I was about to experience.   She had told us that she studied dentistry in Nebraska and had been to Chicago, and she made us feel quite good.

The next thing I know there is a loud grinding sound and dentist and her assistant are going to town in my mouth with the suction tube and some tool that seemed in every way like an electric stone grinder. I was concerned that  they had learned to clean teeth by grinding tauter off the tooth with a stone grinder, oblivious to the removal of enamel.  I was torn between stopping her and asking what was going on, or just trusting the Peace Corps recommendation.

After 15 minutes of mental debate it was done and I either had nice clean teeth or they were ruined for the rest of my life with no one to sue.  When I asked her what tool she was cleaning with, I was pleasantly surprised to see her produce an Ultrasonic Cleaning Tool that was in no way a grinder.  State of the art, painless and efficient.  What a nice relief!  Carol and I both got a clean bill of health and left happily, vowing to return again between the regular annual Peace Corps dental issues.

Seriously, this is not NY!


On our way home we had some time to kill and passed by Time Square.  Not quite like New York, but worth a picture.




The Lion at Gaborone Museum


Then we passed by the world-renowned Gaborone Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Actually it’s just a small, but nice little museum called the Gaborone Art Museum.  So we decided to make a visit and it had some interesting stories, pictures of the 2500 year old wall art in the Salt Pans part of Northwestern Botswana, cool animal scenes and some fun metal art on the outside.  We felt good to have visited probably the only cultural center in the country.

The Crocodile at Gaborone Museum

Darwin at his best


Picasso and her statue

Wall Painting in Botswana 2

Wall Painting in Botswana 1




It was just another fun interesting day in our Botswana lives…

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