My Teeth Fell Off the Charles Bridge

“There comes a moment in your life when you realize that no matter how hard you try, you’re never going to be fluent in Spanish. Or go on that African safari you’ve read about since you were a kid. Or be as excited as you used to be about catching fireflies. I keep trying to find my answer to life – and it gets more elusive the older I get.”
Kim Gruenenfelder, A Total Waste of Makeup

I awoke in the middle of the night in a palace in Prague, Czech Republic. I was drenched in sweat and whimpering softly. We had arrived in Prague the day before and we wanted to overcome jet lag, so we spent the late afternoon sightseeing.

Our Airbnb was close to the Charles Bridge, an historic arched bridge that crosses the Vltava River. There are 30 statues that line the balustrade of the old stone bridge. The oldest statue is that of St. John of Nepomuk. In 1393 St. John of Nepomuk was thrown from the bridge into the river where he drowned. In modern times it has become traditional to touch the toe of St. John here; this is held to bring good fortune and to ensure that the visitor will return to the city of Prague.

Now, neither of us are religious, and old statues of saints and religious figures don’t interest us, but I felt an urge to touch his worn toe for luck…it couldn’t possibly hurt. I wove through the crowds and to the foot of Saint John, where I touched his foot and silently asked Saint John to help us throughout our travels. I guess I wanted to be reassured that we would return to Prague safely in two months’ time for our flight back to the states.

The Charles Bridge was shoulder-to-shoulder tourists and vendors. We were overwhelmed and exhausted. After a long, cold winter with Ron’s throat cancer treatments, when he was declared NED (no evidence of disease) we were beyond thrilled. We could pursue our passion for travel again.

Yet, there comes a moment in your life when you realize that no matter how hard you try, age catches up with you and your way of travel must change. For example, we used to love backpacking and camping. Now, we are more suited to glamping and sturdy rolling suitcases. This was that moment!

Compound our modified travel changes with Ron’s long lasting side effects of throat cancer treatment. Daily power milkshakes help him to maintain his weight. Radiation caused him to lose his sense of taste and smell and we have no idea if and when it will return. He had to have all of his teeth pulled before his oncologist permitted radiation; now he is trying to adjust to eating with a full set of expensive dentures. And although he is getting stronger daily, a long adventure through seven countries would be exhausting.

As for me, Chikungunya, our first winter in almost a decade, and a dislocated knee, took its toll on my joints. Plus, I had all of my lower teeth removed because of gum disease which I could no longer control.

We were an aging mess! But, we have never let a few little health annoyances stop us. We are still excited about catching fireflies and our bucket list of travels WILL be accomplished…even in death! In death, you ask? Of course! Even in death the survivor can travel to the places on our bucket list and sprinkle some of our ashes.

So, as far as my beginning quote goes…it is hogwash. There are hundreds of ways to modify travel for those who dare to seek their passion beyond 60. That is what this blog is all about. Everything in moderation and modification.

About my nightmare in the palace in Prague? I dreamed that I bent over the Charles Bridge and my teeth slipped out and fell into the river! I awoke in a panic, and when I felt my mouth with my tongue…my dentures were missing! Was it true? How would I survive without eating? Could someone make me another pair in Prague?

Dentures are expensive and you can’t buy insurance for damaged or lost dentures. I figured that between Ron’s dentures and mine, we have purchased an economy sized car.

The fear of traveling overwhelmed me that the jet lag didn’t help. As I recall, it was the same fear that gripped me as an expat…the first night in our little jungle house on Ometepe Island. I made Ron sleep with a machete under our bed.

The “what ifs” gradually disappeared. I found my dentures in the palace bathroom…all bubbly clean in the packet of denture effervescent. This was going to be another great adventure. We jumped into the unknown…and after recovering from jet lag…we flew!

And that African safari I read about since I was a kid? I haven’t stopped planning. It will be accomplished.

How have you modified your passions as you grow older? How do you overcome the fear that changes bring?

28 thoughts on “My Teeth Fell Off the Charles Bridge

    • Not really. We always buy travel insurance, and I think after living on an island in Nicaragua, we are aware of how difficult it can be if there is a medical emergency, so we always have a plan B.

  1. Yup. It’s you. Glad to read that Ron’s cancer is in abeyance, of that would be expressing it correctly. My husband had rather advanced thyroid cancer some years ago but so far, so good now and praying it stays that way. I’m looking forward to reading about your new adventures. As for age, my mom and dad are 91 and 90 and until fairly recently, we’re still doing some traveling, just more slowly and not quite so far in a day. My mom gave up doing the discus and javelin (and setting records in the javelin) in the Senior Olympics within the last couple years, so keep at it!


    • Wow! Your mom just gave up throwing the javelin? That is incredible! I want to be like her!! Seriously, cancerlandia was not a fun place to be. Ron still has to have a scan every six months, but each scan that is cancer free makes the next scan more likely to be cancer free, too. So, we are done stressing about it and moving on with our lives. That is the best we can do. Give your parents big hugs for me. I would love to meet those special people.

      • My husband had to have radiation, the kind where he has to be in a room by himself for a few days, then I have to clean absolutely everything, put clothes and bedding in a garbage bag in the garage for a week before washing them after which the washer has to be cleaned several times. Then he had to go back for radiation checkup every year, if I remember correctly, until he told them he was more concerned about too much radiation then anything else and if it seemed from blood tests or whatever that he might have cancer again, he was done with that.

  2. Hi, I just came across your post when I was searching around for interesting travel blogs. I’ll be following you. I too am of a certain age and my teeth are getting scarce. I too have had cancer and now suffer (for 7 years) with chronic fatigue syndrome but I have found a way to travel, on an extreme budget. I do believe that adaptability and the ability to cope with change are great attributes to possess and it sounds like you have both. Enjoy your travels.

  3. Your title for this post was an attention grabber! It is wonderful to read your writing again and know that you are pursuing your love of travel with the same passion you put into your life In Ometepe. My backpacking days are also long over but, like you two, it doesn’t lessen my pleasure experiencing new places, cultures an d people. I’m looking forward to reading about your future travels as you begin another chapter in your life story and can’t wait to see where the roads take you. There are so many more adventures ahead for you and, should you find yourselves in Portugal, please remember that my door is always open for you. Travel on and hang on to your teeth! Anita

  4. Luna it is wonderful that you are blogging again. Your lifestyle and travels have really helped me in dark times. Blessings to you and Ron!!

    • Mary, thank you so much for commenting. I try to write from an emotional angle from which all people can identify. I hope I get my points across. Sending you big hugs! 🙌

  5. Welcome back! You’re creating vicarious memories for all who read your posts. I knew, way back in Arkansas, that you and Ron were a force to be reckoned with. I’m so happy that your adventures continue!

    • Haha! We have always led a quirky life, but it keeps us on our toes. And my blog helps me keep my memories intact. I look back on our lives in Nicaragua and it reminds us of our lives in the Ozarks…so many similarities. So happy you are continuing to follow our trails. Hugs. ❤️

    • You know, Mikkel, I explored all the options to have my teeth pulled and dentures made. Hungary was a good choice and we considered Colombia. But, when it came down to it, I just wanted to return to my own home, sleep in my own bed, and be close to the dentist office if I encountered a problem. Actually, the cost was about the same considering flights, hotels, etc.
      You’ve given me fodder for a post…medical and dental tourism. Thanks!

    • Good advice, Sue. Be prepared…yep. I am such a planner. Although, I would love to be more spontaneous like I was when I was younger, I have to take into consideration how far we have to lug our suitcases, are there a lot of steps, and can we walk to the bus and train stations, etc. My husband says, “We ain’t climbin’ to the top of any mountains or towers anymore.” Haha. Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. My wife and I really appreciate reading your blog. You have such an engaging way with words and really know how to convey the human condition. Wishing health and happiness on your continued travels.

    • John, your comment means a lot to me. Thank you. I often wonder if I reach people with my stories and try to connect my experiences and thoughts to the way we all feel and think. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Onward to more adventures.

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