I hate All-inclusive Resorts and Buffets!!!

Omg sorry but it’s true! I am in the Dominican Republic for work, seriously. I am here as a dentist taking a dental implant course, with my daughter, also a dentist. We will be in the classroom and surgery center but this place is horrible. So many rules. We have been here 24 hours and I have one picture that makes me happy and it’s a sunset. Relearning eat to live vs love to eat. And We are VIPs!


Nice hotel Buffet breakfast followed by a funny moment. I always bring old clothes to leave. So the skirt snd top I wore yesterday were meant to stay. It has been my experience that when I do this, sometimes they come back. A nice house keeper thinks I forget them. Even if I put things in the trash. Today I thought that I was being smart and left the clothing in the hallway. Sure enough here comes a house keeper with my clothes neatly folded in a bag and she said that one of us must have lost these clothes. We laughed and she was grateful for a new outfit!

Serve to Save Lives continued

When we arrived in Bahati we picked up Joe. We went to the school that he attended, Kaimainia . We met with the head master of the school, parents, neighbors, other Rotarians and another man maybe from public health. Or a representative of the Ministry of Health. Everyone introduced themselves and we all had a chance to speak on the subject of fluorosis. Joe was the master of ceremonies.

Next stop

Next we talked to the assistant county commissioner. He listened to us. He was a very nice looking man with nice clothes. He finally pulled off his mask snd he had a missing or very dark tooth. He grew up here! He pulled another guy from the back. He didn’t want to hear what we had to say, visible by his body language. But he finally saw the light and he too was on board. The plan was to get all of the people aware of the problem and figure out the process to fix it, bringing health, education and the administration together.

Next stop a Catholic hospital

Dental prices
At the hospital

They were too busy to see us. I used their bathroom being thank for bringing my own toilet paper and wipes. Meeting times and places change very quickly.

Next stop the hotel for lunch. Patience is needed at restaurants too. Some food comes out fast some not. George, Jan, Joe, Vincent, Natalie and I had lunch but the best part was giving Joe his coveted whitener!

Banner Exchange

Next a well deserved nap followed by a zoom Rotary meeting and some wine.

Zoom with DG Alex

Serve to Change Lives Rotary 2021

The water in many areas of the world has too much fluoride. As a dentist, I am, or maybe was, a believer in fluoride. Fluoride was first put into the water as a cavity decreasing method in Grand Rapids Michigan. It had been researched and studied in Colorado that the small amount of fluoride decreases dental decay. The optimum amount is 1-1.5 ppm, a very small amount. There are fluoride belts geographically, most notably India, China Africa and even the USA . These “belts” contain naturally occurring amounts of fluoride that are thousands of times more ppm than optimal.

We are driving to a Primary school in Bahati near Nukuru. We took an Uber to meet the van driver. It’s an old rickety van with broken seats and ill functioning seatbelts. The roads have a lot of pot holes. Traffic is busy with semis and other large trucks driving north and then south to Uganda and Sudan. It’s a three hour drive.

I am reminded of the book, “Learning to Breathe,” by Alison Wright. She survived a logging truck hitting the bus she was in. She escaped through a bus window that she happened to open. All of her organs that were supposed to be on her left side were forced into her right side. This happened in one of my favorite cities, Luang Pabang. It’s a great read. I have been trying to get her to speak in Coronado. She had some connections there many years ago. She is a phenomenal National Geographic photographer.

So the van we are in is a little rusty and the roads are bumpy. It’s will be a threeish hour drive.

These cargo containers are used for small stores
Rift Valley
Road side shopping
Busy roads
Zebras and monkeys along the way

We finally arrived at the school.

The Primary School

This school has 3000 attendees from ages 4-13. They grow food and harvest water.

Head masters and Joe

One of three de-fluoridation tanks at the school, although one is currently broken. These treat a fraction of the water that is needed per day. The two tanks produce about 400 liters of de-fluoridated water each day, and the school estimates that they need approximately 28,000 liters per day to feed the children and teachers, use for cleaning rooms and sanitation, and for watering crops made on site for the students. They also harvest rain water, which is lower in fluoride amounts, but still not at the recommended levels.

The problem with the excessive amounts of fluoride is due to expansion of the area. A 40 year resident told us that when he first was in the area, the water came from the surrounding mountains. Eventually there were pipes to collect, retrieve and use the water without the long journey of walking to get it. As the area developed the need for water increased. Water bore holes solved this problem. The holes that were shallow were ok for awhile, but the deeper one has to drill the more fluoride in the water, way too much fluoride and this is when the problem of fluorosis began. No one checked the levels of fluoride. Fluorosis is deemed a disease. It affects the hydroxyapatite in the teeth and bones. This starts in utero, in the womb of a woman bearing a child. The disease begins when the mother is 5-6 months pregnant, as this is when the permanent teeth begin to calcify. Once the child is about 6 years old, no more fluorosis of the teeth occurs, but the excessive fluoride also affects the bones. This part of fluorosis affects the joints and long bones, causing more fractures than a normal person would have at all ages. In the areas of the greatest amount of fluoride in the water, younger people are knock-kneed and older people turn into crawlers, just like those stricken with Polio.

Sunday in Nairobi

It’s a beautiful day in Nairobi. I slept well. Ready to begin. We will have breakfast then go to the Giraffe Center. Can’t wait to take pictures for my Mother

The Giraffe Center is pretty much in our host, Janet’s backyard. We each received a half coconut filled with pellets to feed the giraffes. So much fun!!

I was nearly head butted, licked and one bit me! The babies were adorable.

Next stop Karen Blixen museum. The stone house was used in the movie.

Coffee tree
Old wagon

Nairobi to this house used to take 6 hours by cart, now 25 minutes. Getting to Mombasa took two days by trains, not an hour fight on a small plane.

Coffee roaster with Hyrax

We had time to stop for a beer before our working lunch

Safe travels , some confusion but all in all easy Arrival in Kenya

We were happy to sit together on the long flights. Food wasn’t so great. Slept in between books and movies. Dreamliner on the last leg. After we got off the plane we had to show the QR code and some lined had their temperature taken. Then the usual passport checks. Long lines, typical people shoving and bing for a better position. Eventually we made it through and as we walked out of the terminal, a sense of sadness and fear overtook me. As we searched for our names, in the crowds, I will never not remember seeing two signs with my name on each of them held by two different men. When I chose one he told me that my father had expired. I thought that he was lying, but he wasn’t.

Janet found us immediately. She guessed but we fit the mother/daughter duo. She introduced us to the President of her Rotary Club. He had just come from a western Kenyan Rotary meeting. He came to great us and we will see him later.

Janet drove us to her beautiful home about 20 minutes away. She is from Jamaica and has also lived in Canada. She and her husband have two children. We ate a delicious snack about midnight, of Spicy chicken and rice with a salad and some carmodan tea with milk. We each have our own bedroom and bathroom. Time to sleep.

It’s late on the Airplane.

I should be sleeping but I can’t. Had some red wine a couple nibbles of Ambien. I watched the movie, “The Pig,” staring Nick Cage. Powerful I will need to see it again. Very interesting. Read a few books. One is interesting called, “People we meet on vacation.” I have others too.

Natalie is on this trip and I think she will have very open eyes in Kenya. She has been to Marrakech, but I think Nairobi will be like Kampala, Uganda was to me in 2002. Busy, crowded, scary, hot, dry.

My son George and his beautiful girlfriend, Grace are in Mexico, right now. lol They planned a great backpacking trip to Patagonia but a Covid wrecked that. They flew into Mexico City, stayed a night and then headed to Chiapas. Looks amazing. They will go to Holbox too. Looks cool. So when I can’t sleep, I read or watch a movie, now Anthony Bourdains story. I liked him. I watched a cooking show earlier and was moved to tears because this female chef was going to donate her winnings to the Lebanon giant blast. It happened after I left. So sad

I really need to resurrect my Middle East trip on the blog. They had too many barriers to post it on Word press

The Why

My Mom turned 80 in 2020. Our family celebrated her birthday in Wisconsin in July 2020, seems so long ago. Some people wore masks, it was outside, we had surprise grandchildren show up, and great grandkids too. Not grandkids that were a surprise but grandkids that surprised Nana. I have three very close friends with surprise relatives. Thanks 23 and me. I had wanted to give my Mother the gift of going to Kenya to see the Giraffes at The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi.

So we planned to go to Kenya at Thanksgiving 2020. Shortly after making the plans, but before actually booking tickets, Covid made us cancel the plan. Kenya shut down it’s borders. I was very sad. The very next day, a fellow Rotarian and district governor elect ( a big deal in Rotary) called me and asked if I had any interest in a possible dental project in Kenya?!? Serendipity?

The movie, Out of Africa, has been one of my favorites for so many years. It has given me so much that is my life. It inspired me to take flying lessons, broadened my love for animals, Mozart, the Maasai, and of course, world travel. Karen Blixen, played by Meryl Streep, was from Denmark and had a farm in Africa. The location of her house is where the Giraffe Manor is today.

So, Dan Gensler, the District Gov, put me in touch with someone named Joe. He contacted Dan somewhat randomly and asked for help. His village is three and a half hours from Nairobi and has excessive fluoride in their water which is causing brown teeth and soft bones. Could we help?

Joe is around 20, lost his job due to Covid and wants to make a difference in his village. We have been communicating through text and a couple zoom sessions and random phone calls for over a year. He joined a newly formed Roteract Club and immediately became president.