Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
Pine Knoll Farms in Columbia County, Georgia, is a popular venue for weddings and special events

Click on title to view photo in large format: In the heart of Columbia County, Georgia, just a short drive from Augusta, lies Pine Knoll Farms. Though still a working farm with horses, pigs, goats, and chickens, the 100-acre site is today better known as the perfect venue for corporate events and weddings. A quaint wooden chapel seats up to 190, and two barns (the smaller Sweetdaddy’s and larger Magnolia Barn) provide spaces for events of all sizes. But best of all are the views over exquisite green pastures where blonde-maned ponies peacefully graze; step up to the fence and at least one will stroll over to be scratched.

Headgates of the Augusta Canal in Columbia County, Georgia

Click on title to view photo in large format: Built in 1845 to facilitate shipping between the Piedmont plateau and the city of Augusta, Georgia, the Headgates of the Augusta Canal were the starting point for a seven-mile waterway that bypassed rapids on the Savannah River. Lured by the cheap power, water, and transportation provided by the canal, textile mills and factories began building along its banks. As a result, the city of Augusta, Georgia, which stands at its terminus, became one of the few industrial powerhouses of the South. Read More

I have always disliked my teeth. As a child my mouth was so crammed with teeth that three of them could not descend. Two years of braces and three pulled teeth later, my smile was better, but braces had done nothing to fix a front tooth that was naturally discolored. Even worse, I suffered a broken jaw during a car accident at the age of 18 and my two front teeth went from being perfectly aligned to overlapping.

In my thirties, I finally got tired of looking at my crooked yellow front tooth and had it replaced with a crown. Unfortunately, the dentist did not do a good job. He remedied the crookedness, but the color was off. Instead of yellow, my front tooth was now grayish – not a good match for my existing teeth. For the next 30 years I was so self-conscious that I avoided having my photo taken. On occasions when I couldn’t avoid being photographed, I edited the color of the tooth with Photoshop. And then, this past February, I spent a month in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

I had been to Playa before and knew that many Americans take advantage of cheaper medical and dental services south of the border, but I’d never before investigated what is commonly called dental tourism in Mexico. Fortunately, an American woman staying at my B&B told me about a local dentist, Dr. Millan Valdivia of Dental Art Center, who is highly regarded by the expat community. On a whim, I scheduled an appointment to see what could be done to fix my teeth.

Before and after shots - the result of my dental tourism in Mexico. What a difference!

Before and after shots – the result of my dental tourism in Mexico. What a difference!

Dr. Millan’s office was spotless and his equipment state-of-the-art. After looking at my teeth, he suggested either porcelain veneers or composites. In both cases, because all eight of my upper front teeth would be made at the same time (two crowns and six veneers), they would be identical in color. He explained that composites would be a bit stronger, but would stain over time with the consumption of coffee or strongly colored foods like blueberries. Porcelains, although they were a bit less sturdy, would never stain. Both would last 10-15 years at a minimum and would cost a total of $2,300, rather than the $17,000 to $20,000 I would pay in the States. Without doing any further research, I decided upon porcelain veneers and began the process immediately. Read More

Strolling along Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Click on title to view photo in large format: Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Once a sleepy little village on the Caribbean side of the Yucatan, Playa is now a thriving cruise ship port. The beaches, wide and blessed with deep, soft, white sand, are some of the most stunning in the world. As the town grew in popularity, restaurants and shops opened along Fifth Avenue, just one Read More

Lago de Siete Colores (Lake of Seven Colors) in Bacalar, Mexico

Click on title to view photo in large format: Lago de Siete Colores (Lake of Seven Colors) in Bacalar, Mexico is the country’s second largest lake. The jewel tone water of this 30-mile long lake shift throughout the day, changing with the angle of the sun and the weather, but in any weather visitors are assured of seeing at least seven different colors, ranging from the palest turquoise to deep indigo. The “lake” is actually misnamed. Because it is connected to the Caribbean Sea via a series of narrow marshy canals, it is actually a lagoon. The water is Read More

Neighborhood grocery store in Bacalar, Mexico, located in the far southern part of the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatn Peninsula

Click on title to view photo in large format: Neighborhood grocery store in Bacalar, Mexico, located in the far southern part of the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula. With no supermarkets for miles around, residents of this tiny community rely on shops like this one for fresh produce and everyday staples. The town’s claim to fame is that it is located on the shores of Read More