Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dentistry Mexican Style

Pancho Villa—a larger than life statue in Las Palomas.
Jose Doroteo Arango Arambula, better known as Pancho Villa, crossed the border from the sleepy Mexican town of Las Palomas on March 9, 1916, and attacked the small town of Columbus, NM. He took mules, horses and other military supplies and fled back into Mexico. It was the first incursion on U.S. soil by foreign troops since the war of 1812.

Today, a larger-than-life bronze statue of Villa astride horseback stands in front of the municipal buildings of the tiny town of Las Palomas, where the major industries now are tourism and dentistry.

Once you go you understand why. Convenience and price.

It's a two hour drive from Truth or Consequence, NM. We did it early before the hot late summer sun had a chance to heat the parched earth. The border crossing was manned by sleepy-eyed officials on both sides. There was no line.

For many Americans Las Palomas is the destination, and so it is easier to park on the U.S. side and walk across. That is what we did.

I had come to see dentistry, Mexican style, at work, and was there  with two friends: one getting three crowns;  the other, three fillings, a mouth guard, and a cleaning. The dentist: Ricardo Salazar.

Dancing after dentistry.
Unlike visiting a U.S. dentist, there was no appointment needed, and no waiting when we got there though we did call an hour ahead.  My two friends were seen within minutes after we arrived.

And in an hour all was done, and we were out the door. Unlike at most U.S. dental pratices the crowns and mouth guards were made on premise. No waiting. No need to come back later. The ultimate walk-in clinic.

But the reason most norteamericanos come to Mexico for dentistry is not convenience but price.  The fillings were $35 each. The crowns were $300 for a high-end, all porcelain crown, $150 for one partly metal.

Dentistry done, we walked the hot and dusty town, visited a friend, and had lunch at the Pink Store, known for its line of gifts and souvenirs, especially pottery and porcelain.

While we ate a band played. My friends got up and danced.

Although the U.S. border lies just a few hundred yards to the north, it seemed we were momentarily in a different world.  A stress meter somewhere had down-clicked four notches. Maybe more.

Afterwards, we walked back to crossing. The Mexican authorities waved us through. The U.S. agents looked at our passports.

"Anything to declare?"

"Two t-shirts."

Back on the road again and on the way home.



  1. " A stress meter somewhere had down-clicked four notches. Maybe more." ... Not sure how/why that works, but it does. Makes me miss Mexico.

  2. Wow! Those crowns cost less than what I'd have to pay in the U.S. even having dental insurance! Las Palomas, here I come!

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