An excerpt from Tooth Man: Stories from Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast…
“Luther was an early convert to American dentistry,” Nigel continued. “He started his collection of gold fillings back when the American lumber companies were working here and gringo dentists would happen by. The gold was quite cheap in those days because it came straight from the mines up north, you know. Everybody else in town went on picking their teeth clean with jackfish bones when Luther was already using a toothbrush. He maintained his teeth better than anyone but it was still too late for many of them. He had them packed and sculpted with enough gold to stock a jewelry store window.
“That lumber boom lasted through the Sixties and then the northern loggers and their dentists packed up and departed. You know how they say that less than a percent of the money they made stayed here on the coast? Well, much of that percent must have gone into Luther’s mouth.
“He continued to care for his teeth but lost a few more by the time he died. The gold ones ringed his mouth like a sort of shining Stonehenge.
“You know, there’s something else that’s interesting from those days of North American dentistry. A ghost or spirit entered the town’s pantheon at that time, anthropologists believe; a character called Tooth Man. He is described as eight feet tall, an enormous white man with a beard and a medical coat. He carries dental instruments around and comes to steal the teeth out of people’s mouths. Children are well-acquainted with this spirit and hear about him often: ‘Behave or else Tooth Man will come after you,’ and so on. Horrible, isn’t it?”
Eric Timar lived and worked in the RAAS for three years. He now lives in the Washington DC area with his wife — whom he met in Bluefields — and their two children. More of his writing is at http://erictimarbooks.wordpress.com