It may or may not surprise you that I was the first medical case of my fellow PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees). I’m generally a fairly accident prone person, and graceful has never been a word used to describe me. The reason for this medical issue was not due to me instantly contracting malaria or being eaten by a crocodile, but comes from my past accident prone self and some rather crusty French bread.
When I was in 2nd grade I didn’t need to use my Christmas wishes on two front teeth. I had two, new, permanent front teeth. I also had a new P.E. teacher who wanted to try something different. We took the flat scooters and instead of sitting on them and racing them around the gym we put them under that large gym mats and raced those around the gym NASCAR style. There is a reason why 2nd graders don’t have a driver’s licenses and that reason become apparent as my car crashed into another and I landed teeth first on the gym floor. My new front teeth had smashed into vampire fangs.
Fast forward about 16 years and approximately 40 hours after landing in Mada. I’m eating breakfast at the Peace Corps Training Center (PCTC) overlooking the beautiful lake of Mantasoa when I realize something is very wrong. I stare in horror at my breakfast mates and slowly spit out my front tooth. Or more accurately the veneer that keeps my vampire teeth hidden. As it is Saturday nothing can be done until next week and I great my host family later that day more than a little self conscious. I will write more about them later, but my host family is truly wonderful and said nothing of the fact that they clearly got a defective volunteer.
On Monday I discover that I won’t be going to Tana to have it fixed until Wednesday and continue to struggle through the language while slowly developing a lisp. Wednesday morning comes along and I leave in the Peace Corps cars at 6 in the morning to make my 9 am appointment. My expert driver got my to Tana quickly, but getting through the morning traffic of the capital is no easy feat and my appointment time comes and goes while the car sits in a long line of unmoving vehicles. We finally make it to the dentist at 9:30, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem and I’m seen right away.
I was a little nervous at being sent to the dentist in a developing country by myself. My driver came in to tell them who I was then left me to go get gas. I needn’t be worried though and the process was just as if not easier than going to the dentist in the States. I didn’t have to wait at all, was seen by a wonderful dentist who spoke at least English, French, and Malagasy, and was fixed in less than 30 min. I was also overly excited about the running water and flush toilet.
If anyone was doing the math, my tooth was fixed on my 25th birthday. In Madagascar birthdays aren’t normally celebrated and getting my tooth fixed was present enough, but the rest of the day continued to be wonderful. My fellow PCT’s and the language trainers gave me a card and sang to me, the PCTC staff made me a cake, and my Neny (host mom) made me pizza, French fries, and Fanta for dinner. All in all I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
(The view I had when I lost my tooth. I know, my life is super hard.)