Wednesday was the perfect day for a foray to the south. Mid-day temperatures in the eighties, wind in the thirties, and either get some work done on a dental appliance or eat mush. One day on an oatmeal diet was quite enough for me, so it took no persuading.
We arrived at Progeso shortly before noon and parked on the States' side of the bridge. The stroll across the bridge, the walk along both sides of the tourist strip and the walk back to the parking place took a toll on these old knees.
The first hustler who accosted me got the business. He led me directly to the dentist for whom he was shilling, and a deal was struck. As a general rule, and I checked this at numerous dental establishments, dental work seems to run about 10% to 20% of the cost of similar services in the old Hometown.* I love my dentist, and I offer him no disrespect, but certain old persons whose income is not going to increase any time soon have to watch the pennies.
Finally about two o'clock we selected a restaurant which was very pleasant, indeed. Air conditioned, courteous waiters, and troubadors, no less, to serenade the ladies. When the tip bucket hit our table top, BBBH of course had to support the musicians. They were enthusiastic, but quite terrible, actually.
Certain aspects of this trip are always heart-wrenching, and one has to rationalize to himself that he cannot solve everyone's problems; nor can he bring well-being to all who ask. The little old abuela sitting on the sidewalk, holding out a styrofoam cup toward passers-by. The eleven or twelve year old boy who should be in a sixth grade classroom somewhere, instead walking up and down the sidewalk extending the acrylic paintings, hoping to capture our eye, or our heart, but mostly our money. He had a fool-proof gig, though. His paintings featured either puppies or Jesus. Appeals to everyone.
The barely-more-than-toddlers holding out their baseball caps.
Then there was the absolutely beautiful baby, and the children all seem to be beautiful, lying peacefully asleep in her box as her mother asked alms. I wanted to offer madre two dollars to take a picture of the child, but in this day and age one is reluctant to make such a proposal. Sad world in which we live.
The saddest aspect of the scene to me is not so much that the day-to-day survival is earned in such a fashion, for the same people seem to be there who were there two years ago, and five years ago, and so on. The saddest aspect is the taking for granted that the perpetuation of this life-style is the norm. Kids who ought to be learning an alphabet in a kindergarten, children who should be learning that there is a world out there in a sixth-grade classroom, I could go on, are being taught that livelihood is dependent upon the generosity of strangers.
The last picture taken from our yard as we are back home in our parking spot. The perfect ending to a near-perfect day.
Sampler of typical dental charges.
porcelain crowns $120
metal crowns $90
root canal $120
silver filling $20