Origins Odyssey: Travel Diary #3: Costa Rica. Britain to Greece.

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Costa Rica: Teeth, Quills and Mystery Spheres
From Britain through Europe to Greece


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Costa Rica: Teeth and Porcupine Quills
I took a slight detour in November from Britain to Costa Rica for a few weeks, to finish dental work that was started in early 2010. Back in April, just before the annual USR conference in Mesa, Arizona, an infection started in my top upper front tooth, long suspect and weakened from years of periodontal problems. To explain, we go a little further back, though I do not really like talking about myself, there could be some useful perspectives, so indulge me!

I have had my share of dental problems in this life! Saturn rules the teeth and bony structure of the body and he is also the Lord of Karma. Saturn is on my IC, square my Ascendant. DK tells us that karma works out generically, mainly through the physical body. Well I must have been a bit naughty, having too many episodes of tooth torture to recount in this lifetime!

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Not sure about his dentist!

First there was orthodontics at 14 (a Saturn cycle), to correct a mouthful of errant teeth. But the dentist pulled out too many, resulting by adulthood as a ‘collapsed arch’. Then again at 35 to remedy aforesaid, more orthodontics lasting 4.5 years – a mouthful of rubber bands and metal glued to my teeth, top and bottom. (They said it would only be two years.) Ah the karma of right speech perhaps!

Then there was the episode in my mid 20’s, the young dentist fresh out of college who could not extract my four wisdom teeth properly, breaking them all off because of the long curly roots – in a marathon dental sitting for three hours. So it was off to hospital to see a surgeonto excise the roots under general anaesthetic.

Because of the braces in adult life, periodontal disease took hold in the gums because of not being able to access the teeth to clean them properly. That lasted for ten years with frequent visits to the periodontist, a very bloody and probably the most painful of dental procedures; the high speed drill screaming right down into the base roots of your teeth to remove the calculus; you get numbed to the max with about twenty injections. Then there was the complete replacement of all ancient old fillings in Brazil a couple of years ago – that was really fun! But some consolation, I found a great dentist!

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Costa Rica’s active volcano, Mt Aranal

In 2010, as a result of nearly losing all the gum on one of my front teeth, it got an infection which did not go away and required an extraction. It was coming up the first day of the annual USR conference and my dentist in Mesa Arizona was going away on holidays. So push came to shove and it was decided to have the tooth out just after my plenary presentation in the morning of the first day of the conference, and before my afternoon workshop presentation. No problemo I thought. Wrong!

The dentist in Mesa jabbed a huge needle straight into my upper palate like I was a horse! While he was going to attend to some other animal, I was hyper-ventilating for ten minutes to get over the shock and pain. (There is a specific low pain technique for putting a needle in the upper palate, he was obviously from some antiquated school of veterinary dentistry.) Then he came back and pulled the tooth in a couple of seconds. I am out of there.

I walked back to the motel where the conference was held, the pain was unbelievable, so intense that I am literally writhing on my bed, shaking in shock for 45 minutes – before the pain killers kicked in. After that I sailed through the rest of the day, gave my afternoon presentation. People said, I do not know how you managed to do that, and I agreed! Hey man, feeling no pain! Who needs meditation when ya got medication, right?

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Great Balls of er … stone.

So in 2010 an implant procedure was begun, needing six months to ‘take root’ in my jaw. That was successful, so the last visit in November was to screw the new tooth in, plus ‘bridge’ several other teeth. Well I thought that was a procedure that somehow bound them altogether behind them like a strap of some sort. Like a temporary thing I had once. Noooo!

I sat down in the dentist’s chair with my friend (and karmic agent) John the dentist, who says ‘right, let’s get to work!’ He started drilling away at several teeth, complaining about how hard they were and how many drill bits he had to keep replacing, and I am thinking, this is a lot of preparation for a bridge!?

After an hour or so, I request a bathroom break and imagine my shock when I look in the mirror to see all my front teeth filed down into pointy fangs! To paraphrase the Elephant Man, I am not a monster, I am a, a … something! What John neglected to tell me about the procedure (or what I had neglected to hear or register), was the bit about the teeth being filed down – so that a bridge would fit over the top. Do they grow back? Ah, no.

So back in the dental chair, I was trying to deal with some loss and resentment. I might have had second thoughts, perhaps that was why that bit was left out of the treatment description! But then of course I accepted and let it go – during another several hours marathon in the chair. Hopefully this will keep me going to the day I shed this mortal coil! It’s all over and done now, for good I hope – before my second Saturn return coming up soon.

Three Great Danes and a Mexican Porcupine

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Whilst on the theme of Scorpio and pain, when I was receiving dental treatment, I was staying as a guest at a private residence in San Jose, Costa Rica. We awakened one morning to discover that the three beautiful Great Danes had attacked a porcupine and had their faces full of quills!

It was very interesting symbolism, because during the previous night I had been restlessly warding off negative thought forms that I believed were being directed toward me. (It was during the month of Scorpio.) Paranoia notwithstanding, it was almost as if that energy had permeated the immediate aura of where I was staying, but Pluto’s three-headed hound from hell, Cerberus, was guarding me – in the form of three Great Danes. Well, the symbolism was there, egocentric as it may seem!

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It was very traumatic for us to see the animals quilled in the face, mouth, tongue, gums and nose, but most inspiring to witness a stoic dignity befitting their noble breed – enduring the pain without complaint. Danes are well known as hunters so the instinct is strong. There is a video I took at YouTube on the following link (here), filmed at the veterinarian’s (another vet!); but be warned animal lovers, it’s not a pretty sight, although a very happy ending.

Now in the surgery, as a recent dentistee, I became somewhat of the dentist now, as the vet handed me a pair of forceps, told me to scrub up, and help extract the spines from the tongue, mouth and gums of the worst affected Dane – now heavily sedated. We had to work very quickly and deftly as there was only so much time before she would wake up. We had to pull very hard to get some of them out as they were in so deep. We had blood and saliva up to our elbows and while we working, the vet kept on telling me how I had to be careful of not catching some disease that dogs in this region carry, that can be fatal to humans – thanks Hernandez!

The dogs recovered very quickly, next day they were virtually back to normal as if nothing had happened. There is probably one bald porcupine out there though, or dead through its injuries. Judging by the quills in the female Dane’s mouth, half the porcupine’s body must have been in her mouth. She was very lucky. Apparently, even lions do not go near porcupines, but many dogs all over the world have made the mistake!

image008Back in Britain – Go East Young Man!
It’s late November and an icy chill descends upon London, heralding the early snow that had been forecast for Britain in the winter of 2010. Snow had been falling thick in the north of Britain and so my travel plans for driving across Europe to Greece were rapidly brought forward. I did not want to be delayed for a week or two by weather so I set my compass toward Dover, to take the ferry to France.

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The weather in Dover was delightfully sunny and the sea calm, fringed by the famous gleaming white cliffs. I decided to buy a propane gas bottle to replace the other butane, as it functions better in freezing conditions anticipated in Europe.

The ride was uneventful and I arrived at Dunkirk, reflecting upon the heroic evacuation that occurred here in World War II. Winston Churchill called the events in France “a colossal military disaster”, and in his “We shall fight on the beaches …” speech, he hailed their rescue as a “miracle of deliverance”.

image010So having dispensed with this profound moment in history – in the space of a minute, I am more concerned with my evacuation from the mighty traffic jam of cars and trucks in Dunkirk, caused by the arrival of several ferries at once!

Finally clearing the gridlock after an hour, with the sat/nav set up, I gunned ‘Monty’, the old Peugeot turbo diesel, down the highway along my chosen route – that would take me through France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Greece. It was snowing lightly and some of it settled on the ground as the weather from the Arctic closed in over the whole of northern Europe. It was a race against time to get through the Swiss Alps, touch and go, because of possible road closures.

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Hence, I drove as much as possible each day for three days (3,000 kms altogether) – about 12 hours at a time, with breaks – and stopped where I could, to sleep in the motorhome at night. The gas fire in the van was a boon, very cosy in the chilly evening hours. The closer to Germany and Switzerland, the thicker the snow. Despite having satellite navigation, I missed a few turns because of the confusing plethora of freeways, some of which have several names or numbers.

The third day, the snow was settling on the road and the snow plows were out. It was a few feet deep in the fields and the pine trees were heavily laden – picture postcard beautiful. I still had the pedal to the metal – relentless, as the highest Alps had not been reached yet. I made it through the border crossing, paid my road tax and headed on down the mountains toward Italy.

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I made a pit-stop at a MacDonald’s car park for a few winks late at night. It was snowing moderately and I awoke at 3 am, deciding to keep going as it was snowing much heavier. I was thinking that the roads will be closed soon at this rate. I saw a TV weather map in the local service station and the whole of Europe was a white-out. I pulled out onto the freeway, driving on a few inches of snow, visibility down to about 30 yards. Some exits were closed because the snow ploughs could not keep up. I kept driving on grimly, set on not getting stuck in some big snow drift for a week.

Then I arrived at a point where some workmen were just preparing to close the road, stopping to ask them if it got any better from here. They said that it should do so and put the road barriers up behind me, so I just squeaked through Europe! In the next couple of hours the descent was pretty steep and I rapidly passed off the most elevated peaks. And finally, thank god, I was not driving on snow anymore, although it was still snowing.

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Lucerne Valley, Switzerland.

And then a great reward – dawn breaking over the Lucerne Valley, driving through the most breath-taking array of snowy peaks tinged with the golden sun of the new day. It was the first time (in this life) that I had seen the beauty and grandeur of the Alps in the flesh, like a forest of mini Mount Kailash’s! I promised myself to come back and spend some quality time there someday!

Heading toward Milan and it was still snowing all the way; then once past Milan the snow turned to driving rain, all the way down the east coast toward the Italian “boot”, where I took the overnight ferry to Patras, Greece. I would have preferred to have taken it more slowly through Europe but perhaps another time.

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Brindisi Ferry to Patras

So a fitful shaky sleep, I awoke to a sunny morning, with a bit of a chill still in the air. The ferry was plowing through these ancient Mediterranean waters, past the mysterious island peaks of myth and legend. I saw myself in another life as an ancient Phoenician mariner in colorful garb, at the tiller with sails a-billowing and navigating by the stars, plying my trade from one exotic port to another – at the centre of the then known world.

After disembarking in Patras, it was a pretty good run straight into Athens, through the rugged mountains and bays of the Peloponnese, along the new freeway. It was a hot day and I was down to a T-shirt.

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Temple of Neptune (© 2010 author)

I did not have sat/nav for Greece, so landing in Athens during peak hour (which is practically all day), 4.30 pm in the afternoon – was challenging to say the least. After stopping several times to ask the way and look at my maps, backing out of one or two streets too narrow for a wide motorhome, I finally found my host’s address. Next forthcoming blog, the wonders of Greece and Crete.

Phillip Lindsay © 2011.


Donations in $ US $.
($$$ – Check exchange rates – $$$)


Origins Odyssey: Travel Diary#4 – Greece & Crete 1. 2011   (Spanish Version)


Origins Odyssey: Travel Diary#1 – Britain 1. 2010 (Spanish Version)
Origins Odyssey: Travel Diary#2 -Britain 2. 2010
  (Spanish Version)
Origins Odyssey: Travel Diary#3 – Costa Rica, Greece 2010  (Spanish Version)
Origins Odyssey: Travel Diary#4 – Greece & Crete 1. 2011   (Spanish Version)
Origins Odyssey: Travel Diary#5 – Greece & Crete 2. 2011  (Spanish Version)
Origins Odyssey: Travel Diary#6 – Greece & Crete 3. 2012  (Spanish Version)
Origins Odyssey: Travel Diary#7 – India-Sri Lanka. (Prequel 1: 1992)

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