Across Continents

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Livering up

I’d chanced across a small eatery in an Edirne side street. Just one dish, albeit with a couple of choices for accompaniments. Liver. Thin strips, coated and deep fried. Served with thick yoghurt and a small salad. Quite delicious. Myles, the fellow English cyclist I’d ridden with from Sofia towards the Turkish border, had been similarly taken by this when he’d come this way.

It was a singular experience. One dish. One waiter. One customer. But, slowly sipping a tulip shaped glass of warm cay, a chance to consider my plans for New Year and arrival into Istanbul. A cheap motel and a microwavable meal for one didn’t strike me as a means of seeing in the new decade. I’d enjoyed celebrating Christmas with Zoya and her family back in Bulgaria, and whilst there was little chance of a similar experience for New Year’s Eve, I was sure I could at least find a decent place to stop.

I decided to retire early to bed with a good book. Oxford Handbook of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine. Chapter on emergency dentistry. Re-read it quite a few times. Tooth still causing problems. And, whichever way I read the diagnostic tables, everything pointed towards extraction. That’d be Istanbul. Until then, it was all about alleviating the pain, treating the effect of dental infection rather than the cause. The guidance suggested I take a further antibiotic, but it seemed wise to leave this until the morning and await advice from a very experienced dental surgeon back in the UK.

Instead, I was drawn to reading up on dental local anaesthesia and tooth extractions. Neither struck me as somewhere you wanted to go in the field. Or anywhere other than the first world. No, very evident why dentistry is a discipline all of its own. Avoiding the remaining chapters, I took solace in the foreword by the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes where, amongst other things, he extols the virtues of decent medical kit when venturing into the wilderness. Admittedly that wasn’t Turkey, but I found myself reassured by the dental experience that I was probably fairly well equipped for deepest Asia.

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