Madaru moto - motorbike adventures in South America  

With no firm date yet specified for when my bike might be ready, I drew up a mental list of things I could do. First of all I found a modista, or seamstress, Senora Teresa, who was able repair the zips on both my el-cheapo blue rainjacket and el-cheapo tank bags, at an el-cheapo price. Thanks Senora Teresa!

Last week my tooth gave me trouble again so I had made an appointment with a Punta Arenas dentist,  Dr Claudio Lagos. It took ten days to be able to see him, as he was booked way ahead. I fully expected my molar would have to be extracted, as the dentist in Esquel had advised me this would most probably would be the only long term solution; my own laymans' search on the internet seemed to confirm this dismal prognosis. After all, that same tooth had given me grief since I was a teenager and already had had a crown and root canal therapy. 

So, this morning as I looked in the mirror, I thought to myself, "...farewell, good tooth, you have served me well for most of my life... its been good sharing meals with you", while at the same time dreading a painful extraction and an uncertain future of geriatric dentures or dental implants...

As I knocked on his door I noticed Dr Lagos was also a specialist in gum diseases. 

In my best Spanish I explained to him my symptoms, and showed him the X-ray from Esquel and the script for the Amoxillin I had been taking. He said very little, except that he wanted to look himself. In the patients' chair he used some gruesome looking instruments to poke around the tooth in question. As he removed his face mask and rubber gloves, I drew a deep breath and asked: Tienes que sacarlo? (Does it have to come out?) 

Dr Lagos said "I don't think so", before launching into a lengthy, but helpful and ultimately most welcome explanation: that the recurring infection came from plaque that lived under the gum, and could be easily cured by scraping it off.  

I was so relieved I asked him three times if that was what he recommended, and he replied he was confident that was all that was needed. He was, after all, a gum specialist. He said the gum around that tooth had receded to extent that food could get caught under the tooth, allowing anaerobic bacteria to thrive. "We could do it now, if you want" he said. I said, OK!

Dr Lagos then gave me an anethsetic injection, and set to work with some peridontal curettes. I am not nromally a chicken when it comes to visits to the dentist, but on this occasion he was digging so deep and putting such pressure with his scrapings, I tensed up, and he had to give me two more injections, despite my protestations that it didn't hurt (much). Yet, to my surprise, at the end of it all there was hardly any blood and no pain at all. Dr Lagos said I should stop taking the antibiotics and prescribed me special anti-plaque mouthwash called Perio-Aid. I walked out a happy man!

On the way back to the hostel I had a haircut at this mens' salon, called Slako. I found it hard to speak clearly as my tongue was still numb from the injections; the barber probably just thought I was a gringo who couldn't speak Spanish very well!

Making dinner - usually a stew of tuna, rice, peas and tomato pulp. This being the low season, the hostal is very empty most nights.

I called my father to see how he was recuperating after his operation; he was glad to be at home, and recovering slowly, though there had been a few setbacks in regard to pain management and secondary bruising to surrounding organs. I had my Mastercard, but still no Visa debit card had arrived - the one I first reported lost at the beginning of March - some 9 weeks ago. When he told me it hadn't, I got on the phone to my bank - at my cost - where after being bounced from one department to another, I finally spoke to someone who agreed with me a second replacement needed to be sent out. Seems like in the debit card department I have not been too lucky.

The next day I walked up a hill behind Punta Arenas, where there is a mirador, or lookout, and this signpost.

Later I shot a gigapan from the same lookout. I was able to take one 140-image panorama, the one you see below, before my AA batteries prematurely died, because although I had charged up a spare set, I neglected to keep them warm in my trouser pocket. The 4 degree Celcius cold meant they weren't up to supplying the needed power for my next attempt, a HDR panorama, which would have required 3 times more shots. Still, the result was OK: click on the image below to view it in about 500 times more detail.

The repair shop were still awaiting a piston and con-rod of the correct size to be flown in from Santiago. Almost every day I walk up to the workshop to see what progress has been made; the engine was now in a million parts, as the mechanics checked for debris in the gearbox.

Back in town, there is this innocuous-looking building:

Today it is a 'House of Human Rights', but a closer reading of the plaque reveals it was previously a site of detention and torture, right up until 1990.

Yet, if you believe the political notices posted around Punta Arenas, then all is not well, politically, even today. The top poster alleges an activist named Matias was assassinated by the Chilean authorities. The bottom poster calls for the release of Mapuche political prisoners:

Well, if I was an activist, I wouldn't argue with these guys. Photo taken in the main plaza of Punta Arenas...


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 Text and photos copyright  © Glen David Short 2012
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