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A brisk and efficient lady dentist appeared clutching a very large metal syringe. It was painless,

We all have those days when things seem to go wrong, without any reason at all. This was supposed to be a special day. It was the day when I was returning to the island of La Gomera, which is one of my favourite Canary Islands.

It was going to be a particularly special break because, not only was it a short holiday, but also my birthday. I was also going to spend some time in one of the World’s most spectacular heritage sites, the Garajonay National Park, which I had wanted to visit for some time.

Even though La Gomera is only a short distance away from my home on the neighbouring island of Gran Canaria, it did mean two short flights, courtesy of our local friendly airline. I was dreading the first part of the journey, because the flight into Tenerife to change planes is never a very pleasant experience; turbulence reigns with a vengeance, and is never comfortable in a small propeller type plane. Indeed, Tenerife seems to create more turbulence than most destinations that I have experienced.

As it was only a very short flight, there was hardly time for the customary inflight service. However, the all smiling, bountiful hostess leapt forward and suddenly presented me with what I thought was a bag of peanuts and a glass of sparkling water, which I thought was very brave considering how many bottles of sparkling water I have seen squirted over passengers in the past; sparkling drinks and aircraft do not mix. I accepted gratefully, and began to tuck into the peanuts.

Those readers who know Spain well will know that the country’s dentists are in league with the manufacturers of a particularly evil treat, that of ‘frutos secos’, which they say is a kind of dried fruit, but in reality comprises mainly of glass, lead and granite, spiced up with a little volcanic ash. The innocent looking packets do usually contain a few peanuts, which eases one into a false sense of security, and is something that I normally avoid.

We had not eaten since having an early breakfast and so I popped what I thought was a peanut into my mouth. Sadly, this was just as we were about to enter ‘Tenerife airspace’. The place rocked and rolled, as it usually does when it hits heavy turbulence. The air hostess smiled benignly at some of her flight virgins, who looked extremely troubled as they were bumped and rocked around in the very small plane. We hit a particularly bad patch of turbulence just as I was enjoying what I thought was a peanut. It was not, and I felt something strange taking place in my mouth. As we bumped along, a little like one of the more significant rides at a theme park, a very large filling popped out of my mouth. My heart sank.

This was a particularly evil filling that I have had since my teenage years, so it has done rather well, but is not what I wanted on a Friday evening when staying on a small island in the Atlantic. As soon as we checked into the hotel, I made enquires about the whereabouts of a dental surgery.

Needless to say, they were closed until Monday, but the very helpful receptionist did manage to call her friend, Carmen, who happened to be the receptionist of the only dentist on the island who was not on holiday, and made an appointment for my treatment first thing on Monday morning.

The following few days were interesting. Those readers who have lost a filling will know how the tongue tends to be drawn and catch on the offending tooth as if it were a magnet, causing damage to both tongue and eventually soreness in the throat. Within a day I could not speak, but eventually hit upon the idea of sticking a piece of chewing gum into the offending cavity.

It helped, as did the copious glasses of whisky that my partner plied me with to ease my temper. Sadly, all the alcohol meant that I walked by mistake into a glass door of the hotel lobby and gave myself a black eye, which required a few stitches at the local hospital by a lovely young lady doctor. I hasten to add that I was not drunk, but merely tripped over an elderly, and none too pleased, chihuahua that was sunbathing by the front door. All the attention and kindness that I received almost made it worth the experience, but that is a story for another time.

Monday morning arrived.

I don’t think I have ever been quite so excited to see a dentist as I was on this occasion. Realising that there was only one dentist available on this small and remote island, meant that I entered the surgery with some trepidation. I was concerned about how modern the equipment would be, and how it would compare with the space age surgery that I am used to at home.

I needn’t have worried. A brisk and efficient lady dentist appeared clutching a very large metal syringe. It was painless, although I was a little hurt that she seemed to think my experience with my tooth, as well as the black eye was amusing. My new filling was quickly in place, and I gratefully handed over the fee and fled to the nearest bar to recover from the experience.

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com or read his book, ‘Letters from the Atlantic’ (ISBN: 9780992767136). Available as paperback, as well as on Kindle, iBooks and Google Play Books.

iPhone/iPad and Android Apps: ExpatInfo, CanaryIsle and CanaryGay now available.

© Barrie Mahoney

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