Going native

We more or less live a middle class Mexican life. Last month when No Tech refused to accept the automatic deposit of Husband’s pension we found out just how little we can live on. I won’t bore you with our new improved credit union’s many shortcomings but suffice to say  when we inquired into the matter, their response was essentially require that we ourselves research the problem. Your Spanish phrase for the day “Me dan mal genio”.

Since the demise of the Volvo, our shopping habits have changed. It’s been two years since I wrote Mi Dispensa where I told about my changing attitude towards maintaining a well stocked pantry. One of my friends is of the opinion that you either have to speak Spanish or have money to live well here. Ideally, you have both the language skills and the financial wherewithal. Luckily for us, we both speak Spanish since we are financial refugees from California. I’m happy that we live here, I have an amazing life which I wouldn’t have imagined possible if we had stayed NOB.

Getting back to the topic at hand. About a month ago,passing a package of sweets, I unconsciously popped a honey candy into my mouth. Realizing that I really didn’t want it, I immediately spit it out, along with one of my crowns.

There is a dental clinic literally two houses away from us. Rather than take a taxi to our regular English speaking dentist I opted to walk across the street instead. The nice young man glued my crown for $150 mxn. A tenth of what it would cost NOB. He told me that I probably would need to replace the crown eventually. His charge for a new crown is $1500mxn  half what two of the popular English speaking dentists in town charge.

His office is Spartan, it’s 3 rooms located in his sister’s house. He has a small waiting room with the obligatory t.v. blaring adorned with his diploma and not much else. The consultorio seems larger than it is due to the sparseness of it’s furnishings. A white student style metal desk, two chairs and his dental equipment barely fill the room. The only touch of color are the orange melamine cabinets in the corner. His father was a dental technician. He has inherited the equipment, so he manufactures his own crowns and prostheses in the third room. In contrast, the other two dentists  have elegant offices, amazing high tech equipment and fluent English. I don’t have complicated dental needs, just the occasional cleaning and a replacement crown sometime in the future, I’ll just keep walking across the street and practicing my Spanish.

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. Gene,
    Medical Spanish and medical English are close enough that most of us can muddle along especially when it’s already been planned or the visit is routine.

    Anonymous aka Sunrise Doc,
    I normally don’t allow unsigned comments, but I know who you are. You bring up some valid points, price should never be the only concideration. However, I think that people who use “needs to speak English” as their only criteria are very limited in their choices. The two dentists that I referenced in the post are both excellant, but out of my price range at the moment.

    I read your post about going to the dentist,sounds like another great Mexican dental experience.


  2. I need to get in to see a dentist tomorrow. I have a molar that has been acting up since January. I am not looking forward to the experience. But I know the service will be first rate.

  3. I’m a dentist who agree that the dental care here is excellent, and about 20-25% of US prices. But if you have to have a new crown, remember that a crown isn’t a crown isn’t a crown – just like a dress or a stove or a European tour. Ask what kind of metal is used under the porcelain, as non-precious metals can be allergenic. Examine the artistry of the porcelain. Make sure it’s comfortable and easy to clean and you’ve got a winner.

  4. I was with a friend in Merida who had planned dental work while there. My limited Spanish suffices for both of us normally. I got sick – stay in bed sick! So he went to the dentist who does speak English. But they needed a specialized x-ray. No problem, they sent my friend a couple blocks to get it with a note. He ran into a language barrier – but he still got the x-ray for all of about $15. We laughed at that price. My co-pay would be more.
    I had not read “Mi Dispensa” before today. I really enjoyed our last visit and the Donasusa was two blocks away. Yes, a great pantry! I loved it.

  5. Tancho,
    You are so right. It really threw me for a loop the first time I called a doctor’s office here and they wanted me to come right in!

  6. About 6 months ago I needed a root canal, was in and out the same day, cost 2000 pesos. While visiting NOB I asked how much, about 2400 dollars and 3 trips….
    And they laugh at health care in Mexico.
    I am amazed at how cheap it is to live here if you are willing to scale down life to pretty much basic stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top