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Don’t bring gold; bring toothpaste

Fluoride or non-fluoride.

Fluoride or non-fluoride.

More accurately, fluoride-free toothpaste. At least that is what I will tell anyone headed this way who wants to bring me a gift.

First, let me say that there is no shortage of toothpaste here or in Central America in general. You find Colgate, pronounced, kol-GAH-tay, everywhere. And little else. That humors my wife. I don’t know what it costs but clearly something reasonable.

For those who think it is too expensive, there are no-name alternatives such as the POC gel in the photo. A 100 gram tube plus a toothbrush for Q5. But, if you are looking for fluoride-free, good luck.

The bottom package, Babool, was the best deal I could find for fluoride-free. Like the POC, it is also made in India. The package is two tubes of 190 grams and two toothbrushes. While you might expect it to cost close to Q20 (which would make sense as it is almost four times the amount of toothpaste), it actually cost Q142.75.

I was used to higher prices for non-fluoride toothpaste in the US because, after all, the fluoride is an industrial waste but this seems out of line. In fact, the the Babool box has a price of Rs. 54 on it which translates to about Q7. So, apparently, if you buy Babool in India you can sell it for 20 times what you paid for it in Guatemala. Pretty nice deal — if you happen to want to get into the toothpaste smuggling business.

Neither one is something to write home about. That is, both have an assortment of chemicals in it. Of course, the Babool has babul extract in it but the purist may want to go with Tom’s of Maine which is available here — at a still higher price.

OK, I wasn’t going to leave you hanging on babul but it is interesting to search for. Just about all the links you find are similar to the one on Wikipedia:

Babul (बाबुल pronounced baabul) (Urdu: بابل ‎) is an old UrduHindi term for father indicating a daughter’s affection. The term is now mainly used in Bollywood songs in the context of a newly married daughter leaving her father’s home.

In parts of northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the conclusion of a daughter’s marriage, marked by the bidaai (farewell) ceremony, is a profoundly sad occasion, because after this she leaves her father’s house and permanently relocates to her husband’s family. The moment thus marks the end of her past life and the beginning of a new one. The expression of this sentiment varies, but is usually in the formed of hushed sobs, while maintaining sober calmness and composure. This sentiment is often reflected (and exaggerated) in Bollywood and regional films.

There is, however, a definition that seems more appropriate. From dictionary.com:

any of several leguminous trees of the genus Acacia  that yield a gum, especially A. nilotica,  of tropical Africa.


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