Did you ever wake up in the middle of a dream and discover that you were in a beautiful cosmopolitan city; your teeth were beautiful; you had learned how to Tango; the finest steak dinners in really nice restaurants were only $10, and there were ice cream stores all over the place? Well, it happened to me! And, even more amazing is that this was not really a dream. Not only was it real, but the trip was free. Let me tell you about it. I don’t want to mislead you or try to make you think that no money was spent for all this pleasure.
What really happened was that I flew down to Buenos Aires to go to the dentist. Why Buenos Aires? Why not? I can’t imagine a better place to vacation while getting my dental work done at a fraction of the stateside cost. I’ll tell you more about Buenos Aires, but let me first tell you about my “dental adventure.” Having sadly neglected my dental care for many years I discovered that I had some serious problems.
I was concerned about potential heart and other problems. I had recently lost a tooth that anchored a partial so now had to find a resolution. Implants seemed like the best bet. But, I was in for a major shock! Dentist #1 gave me a quote of over $20,000 for the implants. Dentist #2 advised me that my gums were in need of periodontal work to the tune of around $6,000. And this was before even beginning with the implants. I checked with one more dentist, who confirmed the concerns for the periodontal problems. So what now? I could not afford $26,000 or likely more, since I needed some new crowns, veneers, etc. I looked elsewhere. After a good bit of research and checking around, Buenos Aires made it to the top of my list.
I went twice, the first time for the initial periodontal work and the insertion of the implants in my lower jaw. I stayed for 15 days and had a great time. Upon arrival I was greeted at the airport by a driver and a personal assistant who also acted as an interpreter – my Spanish is not so great! I was driven to the office for an initial interview, and then driven to my hotel, the Caseron Porteno, a wonderful little place full of friendly people and free Tango lessons every evening.
During a second visit six months later, I completed the work. I had a total of six implants with crowns, six separate veneers, a couple of additional crowns, the periodontal work, 30 days of hotel stays, and a driver and personal assistant for every visit to the dentist. All this for a total of about $8,000.
One thing I did differently on the second visit was to select my own hotel. As much as I enjoyed the Caseron Porteno, I have decided that I am not going to become a tango dancer. You don’t have to take the tango lessons there, but I just wanted a special treat this time and I checked into the InterContinental Hotel in mid town so that I would be closer to all the activities on Florida Avenue as well as being within walking distance of much of Buenos Aires that I wanted to see. It was a bit more expensive, but remember, I just saved thousands of dollars and it was a beautiful place with all the luxuries a “patient” should be entitled to. Besides, the dental folks subtracted the amount I would have paid for “their” hotel from my bill.
I should mention that other medical procedures are available as well. When I stayed at the Caseron Porteno a lovely young lady was staying there while having an implant procedure. Her implants, however, were not dental. She indicated that everything had gone well and she was enjoying her recovery time in this beautiful city. She had brought along her younger brother to accompany her, and he was having fun with the Tango lessons which were not part of her therapy schedule. The savings for her breast augmentation apparently were significant enough to pay for her brother’s trip as well as her own.
Buenos Aires is a fabulous city. There are parks and monuments everywhere. A fine subway system, cheap taxis and even cheaper buses. Even better, it is a perfect walking city. Tango and Spanish lessons, fabulous food, nice wines and sidewalk cafes abound as well as terrific shopping for leather goods! The concierge at the InterContinental will be happy to tell you which subway to take to reach your destination. The subway is about 25 or 30 cents. If you travel during rush hour be sure to secure your wallet, purse, camera, etc. as you would in any large city.
Several things you really won’t want to miss are the street vendors and entertainers along Florida Avenue, the Recoleta Cemetery (visit Eve Peron’s tomb), the San Telmo Sunday market, a stroll down Avenida de Mayo (with a stop for lunch at the Café Tortoni) and maybe one of the elaborate evening Tango shows (dinner included for around $50.) Stop by the La Boca district if you’re hooked on Tango. And, if you have a little extra time, take a quick flight up to the fantastic Iguazu Falls (think of Niagara as a dripping faucet!)
I strongly recommend that you pick up a guide book before you go and research some of the things you may want to see. I like Lonely Planet guides, but you may have another preference. I wouldn’t wait till you arrive to get a guide book, but there is an excellent one available at the bellman’s desk at the InterContinental – and it’s free. Use it as a supplement to your guide book. It’s updated annually and will have some useful information.
A question I get frequently is “What if there is a problem?” My answer – “I’ll hop on a plane, fly to Buenos Aires, see the dentist and take another vacation.” I’ll still have plenty of cash in my pocket. Of course, I could see a dentist in the states if I needed to, but why not fly back to BA?
O.K., so the trip wasn’t really “free.” But with all the money I saved it sure felt like it. It has been over a year since this work was completed, and I have since talked with a number of people about their dental problems. It seems that costs have rapidly escalated so you might well save a lot more money than I saved.
And, if you are wondering, I’m doing great. I’m having no problems with my teeth and I’m really pleased that I no longer have a “partial” to deal with. I will leave you with one word of caution. There are a number of questions you need to ask and assurances that you need to have fulfilled before you fly south. I don’t have space to list all those things here, but if you are really interested, I’ll be happy to give you some more info. Just send me an e-mail. But, be prepared to wait a couple of weeks in case I’m off to some other exotic destination. I am a travel writer ya’ know.