Friday, July 31, 2015

Africa-Europe 2015 Day 17. Another dreaded visit to the dentist.

That’s it. I slept poorly, feeling my face getting swollen. Yes, when I woke up I looked like a hamster. There is no question. I have an infection and will have to go to the dentist today. Crap! That means foregoing the luxury tourist thing, because they are leaving at 9 am. And I so wanted to go to the caldera of Sete Cidades, and the geothermal power plants L

The hotel gave me the address of a clinic on the other side of town, and since I am too cheap to take a cab I only got there about 9:45. The nice receptionist took my info, and told me the doctor would see me in a short while. Fifteen minutes later I was called in, and I met my doctor, a middle-age woman who spoke perfect English (like many Azoreans, she immigrated to the US when she was a kid, got her degree in Boston, and then chose to come back to practice in paradise), and who listened very sympathetically to my plight. She took a brief look and told me that, yes, I have an infection, and that until the infection is controlled by strong antibiotics and anti-inflammatories there is not much more she can tell me. If it is an opportunistic infection then the antibiotics should clear it and I should be able to hold until I see my dentist in Mexico. Otherwise she hopes I can get the thing looked at in Germany (definitely not Morocco); clearly she doesn’t know of my past experiences with German dentists (described in gory, bloody detail in my letters from 1988).

So she wrote me a prescription for Clavamox (875 mg, which is a dose that should be just about right for a horse) and Iboprufen (600 mg), plus an emergency pack of Rosilan (30 mg) corticosteroids just in case I need help during my trip to Morocco. She also gave me a medicated mouthwash from the samples she had in her examination room. Total cost: $50 for the consultation and $20 for the meds at a nearby pharmacy.

Feeling that now I was pretty much healed, I started bemoaning the fact that this untimely visit to the dentist had robbed me of the opportunity of seeing the caldera of Sete Cidades. I was commiserating in this way when, what do I see? An outfit of scooter rentals! A few minutes later I drove out of there in my very own scooter ($40 per 24 hours) heading out of town toward Sete Cidades volcano.

It was a fabulous ride. First I took the road less travelled, around the south side of the island, with fabulous looks of marine cliffs and quaint white-washed towns. Then I started the climb to the soma of the volcano, where I had a sweeping panorama of the caldera, the ring-fracture volcanoes, and the lake that occupies the center of the caldera. I was a good 3,000 ft above the level of the lake, so the view was like that a soaring eagle would have. Fortunately I came up the road less travelled, so none of the tourist buses were there to ruin my view.

I rode into the caldera, to the village of Sete Cidades to have my lunch, which consisted on a plate of grilled limpets with a cold beer, and afterward I rode all the dirt roads around the lake taking beautiful pictures.

Eventually I headed out of the caldera and reached the north shore, once again reveling on the smooth ride, the beautiful coast, and the incredible scenery. But then I started getting sleepy (was it siesta time?), so I stopped at one of the bus stop kiosks, parked the scooter out of the way, and proceeded to have a very nice siesta sitting against the warm sides of the kiosk.

I finally came back to the hotel, and at 7 pm rejoined my group for dinner. We walked a good 20 minutes to Solar de Graça, which looked more like a car garage than a restaurant, but which turned out to be a 60-year old “eatery” that offered a typical Azorean buffet and entertainment. The available menu included rice with fish, a bread pudding with tomatoes, bacalao with spinach, breaded young macarels (not oily at all), and diverse dishes with pork and bacon. The desserts included flan, maracuja pudding, apple pie, and a bean pie that was surprisingly tasty. This hearty dinner was followed by a show of traditional Azorean music and dance by a local group. It was pretty energetic dancing, as Albertina and myself were able to find out when we were invited to the dance floor. I think we did alright for mere beginners.

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