Archive for the ‘Helping hands’ Category
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Boca Chica and Santo Domingo are supplied with water for domestic use by a government public service institution that goes by the name of Corporación de Acueductos y Alcantarillados de Santo Domingo (CAASD). In keeping with the general “modernization” trend of this country the concept that “user must pay” is slowly but surely being addressed by CAASD in particular, as they strive to install meters for all users. Earlier in the year a CAASD report indicated that only 50% of clients actually pay for their water, and only 25% had water meters connected to their lines.
We shall move swiftly over one observable kink in this story, in that here at Playa Vista we actually had a meter installed some years ago, but… in April this year the company obviously determined that it should be replaced along with all the others in the neighborhood.
First month everything went swimmingly, but when, in the second month after installation, we received an invoice approximately quadruple the normal level alarm bells started ringing. It jolted memories of our fiasco with EdeEste (the local electricity distributor) last year when, in spite of the usual very steady consumption, to our horror and grief, we received a bill five times higher than normal. (See blog Feb 5th 2006) Our experiences at that time led us to believe that unfortunately EdeEste obviously were taking the motto of ‘user pays’ one step further: “non-user” can also be made to pay if you flex your monopoly muscle the ‘right’(read ‘wrong’) way!
Meanwhile… enquiries at the Boca Chica CAASD office indicated that some kind of technical adjustment had been made to the new meter after installation and that this data was in the “archives”. Well, the archives remained well and truly shut for a couple of months and there was no movement on our account or any explanation until one fine day we called Mr. Steve Lora in the CAASD Santo Domingo office.
For those of you who don’t know the workings in this country too well, you should know that a phone call can be the beginning of a long and enduring journey that may or may not wind its way to a conclusion one day in the distant future. In this case the number we dialed gave us the precise man in question whose details incidentally were given to us quite correctly by the man who reads the meter. Mr. Lora listened attentively to our story, admitted he had no record of any problem on his computer screen, but if we could kindly ring back after 3 pm he would have an answer for us. A little after 3 pm we called -admittedly dubiously so- but again surprisingly got through immediately and directly to Mr. Lora himself. As promised he had the details and explained that we didn’t need to pay the current bill because the company did in fact owe us money; with two of our last unpaid bills taken into account precisely 26 pesos and this would be reflected in next month’s bill. And… surprise surprise it was!
People around the bar were quite staggered by this unheard of hiccupless tale and one of our good friends enlisted our help to talk to the same Mr. Lora recently to see if we could help to resolve his more serious problem with the same organization. As before Mr. Lora was there to field the call. As before he listened attentively… and then promptly shouted across the office to a member of his team to cancel the order to suspend our friend’s water supply! An inspector would be sent to find out why our good friend was being charged an excessive amount of money for a meter with a serial number unrelated to the one immediately outside his house!
The next week we called Mr. Lora again to get some news about the result of the inspection. He clarified that the problem was one of “crossed” meters, “but wait on the line, don’t say anything while I speak to my assistant”, he added. In addition to “user pays” often being a foreign concept here “transparency” is another concept that slides exactly into the same envelope, so we were amazed while we heard him explain to his assistant in customer-favorable tones that he must have the recalculated bill at the latest by the end of the day because he was talking to the customer right now. “Did you hear all that?” asked Mr. Lora. “Yes we sure did, thank you”, we gratefully replied. He then finished with, “Your friend’s next bill should see the matter sorted out”, which we surely now have to be far less dubious about.
So a big ‘thumbs up’ for Mr. Lora and CAASD from Playa Vista and perhaps, next month’s invoice permitting, one of Playa Vista’s good old friends too!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Does helping children pander to your altruistic conscience? Then how about helping children with cancer? In the Dominican Republic that is precisely the goal of one of our regular visitors at the Playa Vista bar.
Around the Playa Vista premises cancer may not be the favorite subject of conversation, but… to the future benefit of a lot of kids in this part of the world cancer has become a major focus of attention for one of our regulars, Chris Phillips, who is in fact a third year medical student studying far from his Californian origins at the Universidad Iberoamericana – ‘UNIBE’ – Santo Domingo. Together with a good friend of his from the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore they have very recently made solicitation in the USA for full 501-3C charity status with the specific intention of helping children with diagnosed cancer. The name of the charity is ‘The Caribbean Cancer Foundation’ and the Dominican Republic is to be the initial recipient of the Foundation’s help.
Our two medical friends explained to us that there is one very fine established organization in this country committed exclusively to diagnosing and treating children’s cancer: the ‘Instituto Oncológico Doctor Heriberto Pieter’ in Santo Domingo which offers its services to the children with the support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Tennessee. Unfortunately, however, even the combined efforts of these two fine institutions only digs partially into the problem of children’s cancer here. At the time of talking, only approximately half of the 300 diagnosed cases of children suffering from cancer were being treated and the remaining 150 or so can only wait. Additionally our friends stressed that an even bigger problem is the unknown numbers of children suffering the grim disease, who, if diagnosed earlier, could be helped in a significant way… and that is precisely where it is hoped their new charity will step in.
The two initiative takers themselves pointed out that it is not just the agents, drugs and medical equipment that the children need, but all kinds of supportive items right down to used toys that, for example, can help enormously in entertaining during the times the children are receiving treatment. In their own words they would dearly love to be able to significantly augment the work already being done, and their aim is to build up significant financial support from around the world to make this possible. They have already made contact with some high profile charities and personalities on the world stage and if their good intentions are any kind of marker, some of the less fortunate children in our corner of the world could soon be welcoming beneficiaries of their efforts.
If you should feel like adding your help, one way or the other, you can get in touch with the foundation via Chris at email@example.com.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Ever had a paint job done in the Dominican Republic?
One of our Playa Vista friends recently agreed to rent an apartment here in Boca Chica for his regular visits to this little corner of paradise in order to relax from work pressures in other parts of the world. He was very pleased with his new found home away from home… all apart from the color that is. He stated very clearly to the landlord that it was only the very decidedly pink nature of his bedroom he didn’t like. The rest of the house was absolutely fine in standard white. If he could just have the bedroom changed. Well… he went ahead; selected and bought a can of paint that he thought would be acceptable and noted it was labeled as “marfil” (ivory). The landlord’s son – very much in on the whole escapade, including the original conversation with the landlord – did the work and our friend was delighted with the outcome both the color and the standard of the workmanship.
Seeing that the workmanship was good and for the sake of uniformity he decided to invest some more and have the rest of the apartment also painted the same ‘marfil’ color. He bought an enormous drum of new paint with “marfil” clearly marked on the lid, for about 100 dollars, brushes, thinner and whatever else the landlord’s son would need to complete the job, while our friend took a flight out and went back to his work. Our friend even called and spoke to the landlord’s son to ask if everything was all right. ‘No problema!’ ‘Everything absolutely fine’. ‘Paint job all finished and ready for your arrival’. “All right then, I’ll be there in about a week to see it for myself.”… Kind of conversation.
He flew into town and hurried to his new found newly painted apartment thinking to start a relaxing hassle-free stay in town. He stood aghast at the entrance to the apartment, as soon as he opened the front door. The paint job had been executed perfectly it seemed. He was merely aghast because everything was the very same awful PINK that the bedroom had been, all mercifully except his bedroom which, at least, was still ivory. Every other room was the same totally unacceptable pink… even the previously acceptable white ceilings had now been touched up with ‘decorative’ pink center-pieces round the light fittings!
He could at least go to sleep that night surrounded by the only four ivory walls still standing in his apartment while he contemplated how he would go about rectifying the situation. Would he invest another 100 dollars in paint? – ‘probably’. Would he get the landlord’s son to do it again? – also ‘probably’. Would he have the job done while he was away again? – “absolutely not”. Would he personally check that the label indicating the color and the actual color of the paint inside the bucket coincided before the work began? – “very definitely!”
Saturday, April 29, 2006
We are back on the good-guy theme again. We are a full year on from those articles regarding Massachusetts Man and Philadelphia knight-in-shining-armor but true to the vein of those stories those two individuals have been up to their good deed tricks again this past “winter”. More stationery supplies delivered and yet more teeth filled at their expense. They are but two examples of the good works that we hear of from time to time: we are sometimes visited by coordinated groups who take time off from their chores while in this country to enjoy a day at the beach and fortunate enough to find them relaxing down on a sun lounger in front of Playa Vista and hear their stories of “trying to make a difference”.
The other day it was rather back to the individual although in truth it was more like a group rolled into an individual. It was when he started pulling medicine after medicine out of his pocket to show examples of what he was offering to some of the under privileged people in these parts that we started taking serious notice. He is not a doctor -actually a historian- but in his vast experience of visiting poor neighborhoods, particularly in Africa, he has learned of the immense usefulness of basic hygiene knowledge and of always being ready with a bag of over-the-counter medicines and ointments. He has been doling out toothbrushes, dental floss, pain relievers, muscle relaxing creams as well as clothing mainly in Los Conucos (near Juan Dolio) on his latest trip although his first visit to the Dominican Republic saw him in the Las Terranas neighborhood near Samana. As the conversation progressed it became increasingly obvious that the man is actually a full-on professional humanitarian with the story deepening at each example of his attempts to put something back into life that has seemingly treated him well, though be it after a very difficult beginning.
His official move into the humanitarian arena began when he coupled his academic background and his belief in the power of education with his desire to give and formed the non-profit organization “South African Book Drive”. You can read more details regarding the man and his efforts at:
His efforts have led to more than three million books being distributed across southern Africa and he related to us his plans for helping further in the Dominican Republic. He talked of wanting to bring in 400 pounds of clothing a month and set up some academic programs in English. We naturally wish him the very best with his projects and suspect that he might be quite successful when we note that his organization is backed by a preponderance of people from the very same state of origin as Massachusetts Man.
Friday, March 31, 2006
The numbers of stories filtering out from our delightful Hispaniola island quite frequently point to the – shall we say – idiosyncratic nature of the local people, and we at Playa Vista freely admit to being complicit sometimes in adding fuel to the fire… for, where else would we get a really good story? However, to try and bring a semblance of balance to the picture we take the opportunity here to shed light on some idiosyncratic behavior of people from another part of the world.
Far be it from us to be part of the great big stereo-typing conspiracy, but we do note by way of introduction that the individuals concerned in this story come from West Virginia which our many American friends tell us has a reputation all of its own.
The central figure in our story arrived in Boca Chica fresh from the Panhandle State to marry his true love having decided on a previous trip to commit himself to a new life and a new wife here in our corner of Caribbean paradise.
Four days after the wedding day the man unexpectedly turned up in the Playa Vista Bar. We naturally motioned to congratulate him on his new start in life… but the scar on his hand sent the conversation in another direction. He then pointed to another much larger injury on his upper thigh. “What happened?” “I don’t rightly know,” he said… but then started talking somewhat abstractedly about a fight in the midst of his wedding ceremony! He said he had spent the last four nights in prison, precisely the amount of time that had passed since the wedding itself, we couldn’t help noticing, and reflection on that point delivered us very quickly to the conclusion that a new start in life was not the first thing to be congratulating him on after all.
To be honest we were left in complete confusion because our man was accompanied not only by his good traveling companion, also from West Virginia, but by a plain clothes policeman although not apparently under any kind of restrictive orders. Our man seemingly was visiting good old Playa Vista as if he were a ship seeking some kind of shelter in a storm. The West Virginia friend added to the plot of puzzlement by hissing out of the corner of his mouth that our newlywed had no money and we should watch the level of credit we allowed him.
Bewildered we were, to say the least, but let it go at that, believing it was a matter between two friends, seemingly the police and probably a newly wedded wife somewhere in the background.
Quite some days went by and the supportive friend appeared calmly and coolly at Playa Vista again thereby in our minds immediately dispelling the notion that there was any kind of urgent problem to deal with. Newly married West Virginian had, according to the friend, at some point since his arrival gone “a little crazy” caused numerous problems for himself and others around him and he, the friend, was now merely trying to help get him back to the USA… only there was a complication in that the friend had had his passport stolen! We had to applaud the support the friend was providing naturally assuming that after the substantial delay haste would be the order. However… the friend clearly wasn’t going to give up on his vacationing quite yet as he enjoyed a few relaxing drinks at the Playa Vista Bar and a manicure that afternoon on top of whatever else he had been doing on the intervening days.
Again quite some time later, strangely on Super Bowl night actually, our main actor in the saga turned up again, precisely on time for the football game and a stiff whisky. Ironically he was a true fanatic of one of the participants that night namely the Pittsburgh Steelers who were vying with the Seattle Seahawks to be crowned Super Bowl champs, but we swear that he never saw a single play… not in any of the game he was supposed to watch at Playa Vista that is, for sure. He was far more interested in loud and not very clear-headed conversation with the other bar-guests around him, people who were actually trying to watch the game. We and the agitated bar-guests frankly breathed a sigh of relief when the troubled West Virginia man slipped off his bar stool and sauntered out at half time.
Yet more days further on and the vacation-loving friend was in the bar again explaining the same story about getting our man out of the country, but it still wasn’t easy because actually neither of them had passports by now and also their plane tickets had expired apart from any other problems that might be involved! The friend, being exactly that, listened to our report of the visitation on Super Bowl night, again took his time, had a few drinks and very supportively paid for his friends unpaid bar tab from that infamous Super Bowl night.
He shook our hands, wished us well and commented again on how he really must get the guy back home for some real help. All well and good we supposed… although we did see the friend again as recently as last week. We are just left to wonder what the West Virginian word for ‘mañana’ is!
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
There are a lot of different people who pass through the Playa Vista area in the course of time… one way or another and for one reason or another. An old Caribbean gentleman used to do so on a regular basis. He was tall, with decidedly negro characteristics, a bit of a stooped back, grey hair under his baseball cap and going by the distinctive and unforgettable name “Napoleon”. He was polite and very gentle mannered… and like many in any third world country looking for some kind of an opportunity. We really were not in a position to help, but we would, as we usually try to do with polite gentle mannered people, have a little interchange of conversation and wish him luck on his way.
Some years passed by and apart from bumping into Napoleon once on the bus we hadn’t seen or heard of the man for a long time until the other day.
Napoleon walked into Playa Vista with a more determined stride than we ever recall and greeted us very amicably. He was his usual friendly self and asked after us and how things were going. “How is business?” he asked. “Not too bad, but of course we can always use more customers even though it now is the middle of the higher season”, we replied. “Okay, I have a couple of friends who have apartments over in Andres and they can help you bring in a lot more customers.” “My two friends come from Puerto Principe by the way!” All right we thought. No harm in talking. Perhaps his friends have some lodgers who want to spend some time at a nice place right on the beach away from their apartments occasionally.
There are a lot of promises made and a lot of promises often not completed around these parts but the next morning, a Sunday incidentally, bright and early Napoleon was here with his two friends. They were two brothers, well dressed, polite, Spanish speaking but genuinely Haitian from the main city in that country, Puerto Principe, and they did have a SINGLE apartment in Andres where they personally were living. Well…out of courtesy we explained our set up silently wondering what kind of business proposition they could possibly have. “So, what do you want us to do for you then,” the younger brother a bit surprisingly said. “Well… if you can bring in substantially more customers then fair enough and you would be entitled to some kind of a commission, naturally,” we said.
There was quite a bit of eye shifting at this point and a slight clearing of the throat before the younger brother announced that their work fell into the category of “mystic”. Mystic? We honestly thought that perhaps it was some kind of show they put on, and we explained that we were not really big enough for a performance of that nature. The older brother then, after some more eye shifting, explained that it was “spiritual” – the way they planned to bring customers in that is. The penny then finally dropped: Puerto Principe, Haiti, Mystic, Spiritual…, my goodness, VOODOO!… we were staring straight in the face of the little known business arm of the world famous voodoo tradition.
The eye-shifting was now on our side of the table as we backtracked on our willingness to discuss promotional ideas with this particular “technique” in mind anyway. We then wished Napoleon and his friends the very best of the day and good luck with their many clients they said they had waiting for them in Andres. As they understandably, due to our lack of enthusiasm for their voodoo specialty, walked disappointedly out of Playa Vista the power supply abruptly failed!
Now, as we all know that power failure isn’t exactly uncommon in these parts we were left merely to wonder if it was just the usual problems that cut the electricity off at that moment… or could it be that voodoo trickery has been behind the last 40 years of electricity distribution problems in the Dominican Republic?
Saturday, March 4, 2006
We are sure you are all dying to know what is happening to lamp number 25 in our street: Calle Abraham Nuñez… aren’t you?
Now, we all know that our little world is full of surprises and we thought that one day, whenever that might be, we would have light once again shining down from lamp number 25 at the entrance way to Playa Vista. We weren’t entirely wrong but neither were we entirely right thanks to that exquisite surprise factor.
We left you in early February with quite a tale of promises promises promises and following non-accomplishment all starting before Christmas. From February we decided to track the continuing promises and non-accomplishment for entertainment’s sake. Each telephone conversation was directly with Ramon number 1 and his statements on getting the light fixed were noted like this:
February 7th: In one hour!
February 9th: Today!
February 14th: Today!
February 16th: We can’t send the crane just for one light so we are liaising with Politur (the
tourist police) but it will be attended to this afternoon!
February 17th: We are right now with the police on the beach checking all the lights just
around the corner from Abraham Nuñez and we will fix it when we get there!
February 20th: We are coming with ladders (what happened to the crane?) right now, honestly
right this minute!
February 21st: It isn’t fixed? I will investigate why my order was not carried out!
February 22nd: The driver of the maintenance team was injured when hit by a motorcyclist. He
should be out of hospital this afternoon and there is even a possibility that he
could get there tomorrow!
February 25th-27th Independence weekend holiday!
February 28th HURRAH… JOB DONE!
… OR WAS IT?
On the 28th Ramon number 2 arrived with a very modern looking hydraulic crane, spare bulbs, photo cells and two helpers. Within 10 minutes lamp number 25 was reconnected and had a bulb replacement too, for good measure. Wonder of wonders… we actually saw the lamp working for the first time in months!
Later that day as dark descended the light came on and shone brilliantly for… shall we say about… 25 minutes when its splendor was rudely interrupted by one of the country’s infamous power cuts. The electricity came flooding back fairly soon spreading through the cabled veins of the Boca Chica system. It relit everything and all the lamps in Abraham Nuñez… EXCEPT LAMP NO 25!
Surprise? You bet ya!
The next day Ramon number 1 was called again to thank him for sending his men and the, well… 25 minutes of light. Was Ramon number 1 surprised? Certainly.
However the real surprises were still waiting for us in that, in spite of zero attention from anybody at all, that night the lamp suddenly burst into full life again all on its own … and actually shone brightly for the entire night. The really exquisite touch though is that one more night on… and lamp 25 was once again back in the dark!
This story about the ongoing battle between light and darkness is hopefully soon to be continued with perhaps more enlightening news…
Sunday, February 5, 2006
Streetlamp number 25 stands proudly, though somewhat tiltingly, in Calle Abraham Nuñez magnificently illuminating the public road and area between Playa Vista and Hotel Europa or, rather, we should say… it used to. “Interestingly enough” this lamp became profoundly inactive the week that EdeEste (the local electric utility company) decided to disconnect our service because we kept insisting we had not consumed the huge quantity of electricity they suddenly were claiming -five times the usual level, “no way Jose!”- and that we wanted the matter fully investigated. Unknown to us, at that point anyway, the routine here seems to be quite simply that you pay what the monopolistic high and mighty EdeEste request because they do not have a genuine mechanism for thoroughly and professionally investigating invoiced anomalies.
When finally, after months of what turned about to be futile correspondence, we realized that arbitration in the eyes of EdeEste means: pay up whatever the company dictates and when finally, after making good use of our brand-spanking new propane-gas driven generator and our good old inverter, we were reconnected with the traditional electricity network, sweetened only by the minor token victory that the questionable meter was removed from its former position in the public street and installed inside Playa Vista, we requested that the dear company also investigate the non-functioning streetlamp number 25.
It took two full weeks or more and numerous phone calls to identify that it is not after all EdeEste who deals with streetlamps, but the local council… who ominously do have a reputation for being somewhat slow off the mark even in a country of slow starters.
Many many phone calls and then one fortuitous visit put us in direct contact with “the” man responsible – Ramon. He said, of course, “mañana” with some conviction though, because he explained they had another streetlight that also needed looking at nearby. Mañana naturally passed without any change to the situation whatsoever, and a call to Ramon gave the explanation that they were short of a mechanical crane. The following week the secretary in Ramon’s office made up her own story and said it was because they were out of bulbs in the storehouse! A couple of weeks later and Ramon, after being chased down on the phone again, asked, “Uh hum, exactly where is this lamp then?” A couple of days later hoping to speed things along we also provided the lamp’s individual identification code, “number 25”, as all of you also know now. Some days later Ramon was able to confirm indeed that lamp number 25 was not working. He had seen it with his own eyes.
One obviously good-humored and unusually pro-active day yet further on in time Ramon dramatically announced he was sending his chief assistant the next day… which helped us recall being told in no uncertain terms earlier on in the venture, that Ramon definitely didn’t have an assistant and only he himself could handle a matter such as this. ‘The assistant’ – another ‘Ramon’ – surprisingly, did turn up! When we explained the difficulties we had had with EdeEste and the coincidence of the street lamp suddenly being inoperative the same week we had been disconnected, he said AHAAA… and nodded his head vigorously indicating that he knew exactly from previous experiences what had happened. No light bulb failure, just a simple menacing harassing disconnection by you know who! He said he would fix it the next day… oh yes, mañana again. That was on a Saturday. Tuesday we phoned the first Ramon and asked what the problem now was. He said that there was no mechanical crane available! Amazing how circular the world is, ain’t it?
Quite a performance already and now we are just waiting for the finale: ‘The Ramones and The Light Show’ to get good old streetlamp 25 back into action!
Saturday, November 12, 2005
The phone rang! It was the operator from Verizon, the main phone company here, asking if we would accept a collect call from ‘Minga’. “Not really,” we said “don’t know anybody by that name”. The operator called again. “Is there a Peter there?” Well, we couldn’t hide from the fact that there was, but it didn’t change the fact that nobody at Playa Vista knew anybody called Minga so we certainly wouldn’t accept a collect charge call from anybody by such a name. Once again the phone rang, only this time it was Minga in person. “Hello,” she said, “are you Peter?” “Yes” “Do you know me?” “No.” “Well you do know my mother – Santana from Barahona (a coastal town to the west of Santo Domingo) – don’t you?” “No, I don’t think so”. “Are you German?” Again: “No”. “What color is your hair?” The whole inquisitorial affair was conducted in halting but nonetheless clearly enunciated English. “Can I ask you where you are calling from?” “From Po.. land”. To our ears the accent could easily have been Polish and to non-Polish experts like us the name ‘Minga’ certainly sounded more Polish than Dominican… notwithstanding the mother from Barahona bit of course. Anyway back to Minga, “I am looking for a German Peter who is the father of my daughter”. “Sorry to disappoint you, but wherever he might be he is definitely not here, so we can’t really help you… though we could ask around to see if there is anybody in Boca Chica that might meet your description… by all means give us your number”.
After a brief sortie around town there was some information here and there, but not very helpful… because a particular German Peter was apparently in town some years ago and, even involved with a certain Minga, but the Peter in question had left Boca Chica a long time ago, at which the track went quite cold. We tried calling the given number putting in the national code for Poland -actually 48 for those of you who might want to call Poland one day- but there was no response whatsoever. The investigative second part of our job revealed, surprise surprise, that the first three digits Minga had given us pertained to PORTLAND Maine in the US of A! A…ha! We tried the number without the 48 and got through to Minga straight away. In passing we couldn’t help wondering if people from that part of the world are commonly aware that a slightly lazy pronunciation of the name of their town could easily lead to a huge geographic misunderstanding.
We told Minga about our not very helpful findings, and she now explained that her 7-year-old daughter wanted to see her father, not unreasonable in itself we thought, although chancing on InfoCenter Playa Vista in a case like this certainly seemed to be a very indirect way of keeping in touch with direct relatives. Minga was now divorced from the father of her other child and apparently trying to catch up rapidly with the past. She was of course disappointed that we were not able to find out more, but politely thanked us for our help and invited us, anytime we wanted, to come and spend time with her and her two children. We definitely got the sensation that perhaps Minga would be prepared to give up on the past, if the future should have something rosier to offer!
Maybe we will take up her very open-ended invite next time we are in Poland… excuse us Portland!
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
This story also began quite some while ago with our ‘Pennsylvanian knight in shining armour’ observing a woman diligently and happily cleaning the floors of the business next door to the apartment he was using during his stay. He had quietly watched her on each of his sojourns to Boca Chica: She was always punctually at her place of work without complaining and always a smile on her face at 8.30 in the morning. She had an equally smiling young daughter, Gabriela, who in almost the same way as her mother furnished a big smile without a full set of front teeth. Unfortunately the mother’s front teeth had all long since disappeared, but her daughter had lost just the one in recent months due to falling from a motorbike in an accident. Our man from Pennsylvania big-heartedly decided to help out and with the permission of the mother offered to pay for a new tooth to be prepared for Gabriela. The mother was shyly, though gratefully, accepting and the local dentist was consulted. As Gabriela was still growing it was advised a denture with one tooth would be the solution for now and perhaps a more permanent job could be done in the future. Our generous friend was actually in for more than he bargained in the end, because it turned out that Gabriela needed more than just a new tooth – it seemed that she had never visited a dentist and needed 4 cavities filled, repairs to the other front tooth which had been chipped in the accident, full cleaning and then during the treatment an abscess was discovered that needed root canal treatment. Our gallant Pennsylvania Man stayed the whole course visiting with Gabriela for each treatment, paying the full bill on each occasion and confided to us at the Playa Vista bar when the job was finished that he believed it was well worth every penny. The mother was just as delighted and not a little hopeful that if she keeps smiling when our Pennsylvania Man returns next time she might just get the same attractive overhaul!