Best Root Canal EVER

So I had the incredible luck of needing a root canal just a few weeks into our posting.  No, there is no sarcasm here.  Let me explain.

When my tooth began hurting, I called the most reputable dentist in Dar to make an appointment.  I should have known that it wasn’t going to work out because (a) the first available appointment was whenever I wanted (b) her business card read “orthodontist” and (c) I wrote down my medical history and contact information on a post-it note.  She did a bit of drilling and told me to come back in a week for part 2 of 4.  Meanwhile, the embassy got wind that I needed some dental work and they decided to send me to South Africa.  I did not object.

I could write a whole blog post just on getting from Dar to Johannesburg on an African airline, but I’ll save that for another day and focus on the fun part.  My hotel and dentist were located in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Pretoria (no resemblance to Brooklyn, NY).  Just like everywhere in Africa, Pretoria is a city of walls and gates, but much nicer than Dar.  In Pretoria, the gates themselves are works of art, so walking along the sidewalks can be pleasant (yay, sidewalks!).

South Africa is a well-developed country with first world infrastructure, goods and services.  The US dollar goes a long way here, which was refreshing, given that a block of [expired] Parmesan, when it appears on the shelf, is roughly $45 in Dar.  In contrast, the grocery store in Pretoria advertises 300 varieties of cheese, most of which were inexpensive.  It was cheese heaven.

One thing that holds South Africa back is the crime, which is opportunistic and often violent.  Matt instructed me that under no circumstances should I take a taxi because taxis cannot be trusted.  Also, no walking after dark, or near dark.  If possible, don’t walk at all.  As you might imagine, I was scared to leave the hotel.  After a good bit of cabin fever, I finally mustered up the courage and walked a quarter mile to the mall.  The trip was so pleasant that I started walking everywhere.  The weather was perfect and excitement over the impending World Cup was visibly mounting.  It was great just to breathe in the first-world air.

On day 2, I broke rule number 1 and took a taxi (to avoid breaking rule #2 – walking after dark).  On day 3, time got away from me and I ended up walking home as the sun was getting low.  In the evening light, the streets looked different, and before I knew it, I was lost in Pretoria, toting roughly 20 pounds of cheese under my arms. Admittedly, I was a little panicky.  Soon, I thought, the city would be transformed by a bewitching force whereby all the criminals would emerge from the shadows and attack innocent pedestrians.  But instead, a jogger appeared around the corner and asked if I needed help finding anything.  She pointed me in the right direction and even walked me to the gate of my guest house.  Extremely grateful, I thanked her as best I could.  The cheese and I were safe!

In the end, getting a root canal in Africa was a really good deal.  I had a free 4-day vacation.  My dentist was awesome.  His equipment was WAY more advanced than my dentist’s in Alexandria.  And surprisingly, I paid less than 1/3 of the American price for a root canal. After all that shopping, I decided that I missed Tanzania and it was time to come “home.”  Matt and I agree that this was probably a good thing.

What I brought back to Dar: Mozzarella, Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Gruyere, Philadelphia Cream Cheese