Long ride for teeth and tamales
February 26, 2018
The battle of Armageddon is raging on Interstate 15 in San Diego. Six lanes of cars traveling in either direction, cut in and out, snapping like hounds at each other. The violence is horrendous. Drivers are so upset with each other, Valentine's day has been canceled.
Why do Orllyene and I insinuate ourselves into this mess? Simple. I am getting new dentures. I realize "dentures" is an indelicate topic to discuss in polite society, but there it is. We will make two trips to Tecate, Mexico to complete the procedure.
We make it to Norco, California the first night. Next morning, we barrel south on I-15, eventually landing on Highway 94 east, a two-lane road of pure bliss.
We pass a neighborhood vegetable stand. They are practically giving avocados away. Then the roly-poly road dips and turns, through pepper trees, palms, sycamores, oaks, and an occasional lemon tree dripping with lemons. It's California of yesteryear and all too soon we reach Tecate, Mexico, a dusty village struggling to pay the rent.
Dr. Gabriel Adame's office is 1½ blocks from the border. The sidewalk is cracked, the street is rough, but the 2-story building is princely. Inside, a long corridor opens into a covey of rooms filled with the latest dental technology. As soon as I shake hands with Dr. Adame, I realize I've made a good decision. He's a Sean Connery take control kind of guy. In 1943, his father was the first dentist in Tecate, and now his son is also a dentist in his practice.
"Please take a seat, Ron" and I sink into the Star Wars dental chair. With each manipulation and instruction, he finishes by saying "Ron". I appreciate the personal touch and when I ask when he will extract two teeth that have to go, he replies, "they're out, Ron."
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While I'm being prepped for new dentures, Orllyene is having her teeth cleaned by Piedad, Dr. Adame's wife of 43 years.
Soon it's lunch time. "Can you suggest someplace to eat?" I ask the good doctor. He flounders for a moment then says "Come with me." Up a circular stairway we go to a sunny room overlooking the town. It's "TAMALE DAY," a national tradition all over Mexico. A large round table is set for the entire staff. Piedad has provided two baskets of tamales (cheese and beef) from a local vendor staff. As soon as we arrive all the young people clear a place for Orllyene and me.
The clencher of this story is a result of a telephone call to Adame's office from back in Smith.
"Could you possibly arrange for a dozen beef tamales for us to bring home, when we next come down?" I ask. When we arrive, and after I'm fitted out with my new teeth, Dr. Adame presents us with a dozen tamales. The treat is on him, he says. Gracias, mi amigo.
Ron Walker can be reached at email@example.com.