Your new friends aren’t trying to kill you (probably)
“They offered you salad?”
“And you ate it?”
“Do you know what they wash that with? Tap water.”
“They know we can’t drink their water, right?”
“Uh – NO”
And thus I was baptized into the world of food poisoning in Africa. If you’ve ever seen the source of public water in Dar Es-Salaam you know that the river is multi-use… and by that I mean it serves as laundry, bath tub, swimming hole, motorcycle oil change dump, public bathroom, etc. This is the water my hosts had rinsed their fresh veggies in before they served them… No wonder I was sick long enough to watch two season of Lost.
I understand that the rest of the world doesn’t always have clean water, what I didn’t take into account was that they don’t realize that what’s in their water can make visitors horribly, horribly ill. They don’t mean to poison us, they’re only being hospitable. This means you have to take your health into your own hands.
How to know if the water is no bueno:
- Are you in Mexico, Africa or any ‘Stan’ country? Most likely, no bueno.
- Are you in a high-end hotel? Ask the front desk, but you’re probably okay.
- Could there be animals with access to the stream you’re about to drink out of? Totally no bueno.
“Let it run its course. Pepto or Immodium will only serve to keep what’s causing the issue inside”
What to avoid if you’re in an area with bad water:
- Anything rinsed in local water
- Fresh veggies
- Fruit that has no peel
- Ice cubes (What do you think ice is made from?)
So what if I get sick?
I am not a doctor, nor am I qualified to give medical advice; however, I’ve been sick overseas enough times to know what the doc is going to tell you: “Let it run its course. Pepto or Immodium will only serve to keep what’s causing the issue inside you”. I will caveat this with the following: If you’re truly sick; ie, hot/cold flashes or if there’s blood involved – go see a doctor, pronto. Also, drink a lot of water so you don’t get dehydrated.
Don’t let hospitality get the better of your health. Politely decline and stay upright. Say no to the green apple quick steps; you don’t want to spend the rest of your vacation ten feet or less from a bathroom.
Have you had a trip marred by bad water?