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Not getting sick in Mexico

Hi All -

I'm going to Mexico next week and I love to eat - anything.

Any tips on what I should/should not eat while there? For example, is lettuce OK? What about ice? What should I avoid and what can I roll the dice on?


PS - going to Puerto Vallarta.

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  1. Leave the lettuce and raw unpeeled fruits veggies alone. Ice is now all made with purefied water, so it's fine. An acceptable roll of the dice is the bowl of salsa with the chips. I have been sick less than 3 weeks in over 4 years in Mexico, but one was in P.V. - a chunk of smoked marlin I bought in the market. I thought I would have to get better to die. But that was many years ago.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      "Ice is now all made with purefied water, so it's fine."

      True, but sometimes it's what happens aftter the ice leaves the plant that worries me. All too often, block ice is dropped off in the street, to be picked up and used after a while by the street food stand or even restaurants. Better ice is delivered wrapped in plastic film, but how do you know that?

      I've seen this sort of ice malpractice in beautiful Centro Querétaro and in charming, traditional Pátzcuaro. (Today, on the Plaza Chica, where a mariscos cart had not yet set up for the day.) Believe, me, it's the rule, not the exception.

      Ice in the form of cubes or hollow tubes is G.R.A.S., other than improper handling by staff (hands, not with a scoop).
      Well, you can never be totally safe. Enjoy yourself!

      A tip: don't eat raw meat or seafood (carne apache and/or ceviche) at street stands or carts.
      Another: cilantro is washed but rarely disinfected at street and mercado stands; but how can you eat Mexican food without it?

      EDIT: we have been sick in Mexico on more occasions than we can recall. I don't think one can rate any one city as "safe". It all depends on the specific food stand and a variety of variable factors.

      1. re: Anonimo

        We were in PV for a week. Everyone in my family was fine. At the airport on the way back I unthinkingly got iced tea from one of those big metal cannisters at an Arby's or something of the like at the PV airport. I got sick. That's the only thing I can think of, that they used "bad ice" (or bad water)

    2. I've never been sick in Mexico or anywhere else in Central or South America. The closest I ever came was a slight bit of diarrhea in Kenya and Tanzania. Not enough that I took meds. Why do you think you're going to be sick?

      1. PV is very safe--we were there a week (2006) with no issues, eating everywhere--taco stands, small restaurants, etc.

        On another trip (for a wedding in Cuernavaca), some people became ill, others not. I had a lot of fresh lime juice in my drinks and was told that that, plus my love of hot spices helped.

        The only time I was sick in Mexico was 24 years ago in Acapulco, but I think it was more the heat than anything else.

        Eat and enjoy--the food is amazing, and I'm envious.

        1. I've been sick in Mexico seriously on one occasion (fevers, chills, diarrhea), and less seriously on many other occasions. I have a very sensitive stomach. As you can tell from the others who've never been sick, personal constitution can play a big part in how you respond. I'll add that on the occasions that I got very sick, I think it was from a meal at a very nice Italian restaurant.

          My advice: since you are there for such a short period of time, don't take chances. No raw veggies and no raw unpeeled fruits. I'd also steer clear of street stands that don't appear scrupulously clean. Other than that, I can't see any problems (since presumably the hotel will have filtered water and ice).

          The food is fantastic - enjoy!

          1. One of the sickest times in my life was in PV and had to have the Dr's summoned to my suite.
            They believe that it was the fruit and the ice for my drinks that was not clean water.
            That was over 30 years ago and been many more times to Mexico and haven't been sick since.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Beach Chick

              Thank you all! I'll keep all this in mind (and some Immodium in my pocket). ...lou

              1. re: smokeking

                We prefer Pepto Bismol taken at the first signs of intestinal distress. Two tabs every hour, up to the limit written on package directions. Or 2 tsps of Pepto Bismol liquid. Either is very soothing to the tract. Imodium is a last resort that closes you up, leaving the nasty toxins behind.

                Meanwhile, avoid spicy foods, alcohol, & caffeine. Eat caldo de pollo sin grasa, arroz blanco. Sip Coca Cola or Sprite, alternating with nibbles of soda crackers. (Saladitas, por ejemplo.)

                I seriously recommend drinking a whole liter of Pedialyte or Electrolit salts and fluid replacer, at any farmacia; as you as you have the symptoms. Dehydration and electrolytes depletion are the worst dangers of severe diarrhea.Continue with Pedialyte or Electrolit as long as diarrhea is present.

                1. re: Anonimo

                  You're assuming sickness. I don't think that was the question.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    rum and coca light with fresh limes, or coca light with limes. Worked for me!

                  2. re: Anonimo

                    Excellent advice, Anonimo.
                    All of the above is exactly what I would do.
                    However DO NOT give Pepto Bismol to children as it contains aspirin and that is definately not advisable. I'm a firm and loyal Pedialyte drinker...I swear by it and not just when there are symptoms.
                    Secondly, having been sick many times in Mexico (once with amoebic dysentary) I was advised to begin Pepto Bismol before I ever entered Mexico....it keeps the inside of the intestine lubricated so nothing can adhere to it.

              2. If you eat in good restaurants in PV you're extremely unlikely to get sick. Since the only business here is the tourist business there is a great emphasis on restaurant hygiene. However the system isn't perfect and a problem can be created by someone just not washing their hands properly. But this happens in Canada and the States with recent problems in the US with spinach and hamburger recalls and in Canada with products from a Maple Leaf meat packaging plant in Toronto.
                There are also many tourists who spend too much time in the sun, drink too much alcohol and then unfairly blame problems on the food.
                Relax and enjoy PV is a great place to eat.
                Bring an umbrella, rains arrived a little early this year.

                1. Beautiful town. Been all over Mex. Have eaten everything! White table cloth -- street vendor and everything in between. Start taking a preventative a few days before you leave the US.
                  Works like a charm. A bigger problem is the crime rate and the heinous level it's come to.
                  Be REAL careful about that. You can't die from a little case of the trots.

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: Cinnamon

                      I have travelled all over Mexico. A week before leaving the States I start taking probiotic acidophilus tablets. I admit I've been pretty lucky considering the ceviche, tiritas, food stand food I eat and pulque even that I drink.

                        1. re: chow_gal

                          I second the probiotics. I used them before I went to Mexico and during my trip; however, they will not prevent food poisoning or lessen the effects. As others have stated food poisoning happens everywhere.

                    2. We live here (Pátzcuaro area) and both of us are mildly ill with intestinal distress right now. We haven't eaten away from home togeher since last Monday, although I had breakfast out Tuesday.

                      I think it may have been the pastry cream filling in the delicious donuts from Pátzcuaro's newest supermarket.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Anonimo

                        Add some Yakult to your daily diet and you may see the annoying low level disturbances disappear.

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          I've Yakulted now, and the problem is gone. Thanks, DD.

                          1. re: Anonimo

                            The stuff is gold in my book. Works great in the U.S. too ;-)

                            1. re: DiningDiva

                              Maybe commercial flights departing Mexico should distribute complimentary Yakult so that the planes are not recirculating "the annoying low level disturbances" you so discreetly described above. Come to think of it, maybe all flights to and from anywhere.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if airlines had a stash of Yakult. I love that stuff, reminds me of lemon yogurt, which happens to be one of my favorite yogurt flavors. I think Anonimo gets credit for the low level disturbances, tho.

                                Yakult is a probiotic and does in a day or two what it take DanAcitve 14 days to accomplish...and a less cost. Check it out - http://www.yakultusa.com/

                      2. Might want to check with your Doc before you leave. My daughter spent a month there, a doc friend had her take some antibiotics daily, she was staying with a family and never got sick.

                        Be careful of eating the airplane food on the way home, the stuff is made in Mexico. I had a client that was in nepal and india on a big treck. He got terribly sick right after he got home, was extremely careful during the whole trip, he figured the airplane food got him. He died 10 days later and he was a physician.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: duck833

                          Misfortune such as your client's is of course tragic, but happens. His, as you indicated, originated in asia. In Mexico, the venue of this topic, medical professionals discourage the pre-emptive and indiscriminate use of antibiotics. Many are still available there OTC, but to a lessening degree. Also, many stories about illness in Mexico, my worst included, are from years ago, when refrigeration and hygiene there were in their infancy. Mexico has made giant strides in these subjects over the recent 20-30 years.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            V, I so agree with you about prophylactic antibiotic treatment. I don't know why *I* don't get sick and others do. But I'd never take meds in anticipation of getting sick.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              I agree on the (not) use of prophylactic antibiotic. However, I would still strongly endorse the advice to check with your doctor before travelling, for a totally different reason: if you haven't have one, a Hepetitis A vaccine before you go (I think it has to be started several months in advance, so won't help OP, but for other travellers) is a very good idea. HepA is apparently quite common in Mexico, but because it often doesn't show symptoms if contracted as a child, most Mexican adults (assuming they got it as a child and didn't realize they even had it) are immune. (once you have it, you develop a life long immunity). However, if an adult catches it, one can get very ill (and food preparation is a transmission method: so if the adult is caring for an actively infected child and then doesn't wash his or her hands properly before preparing food, it could be passed to you....) Washing your hands a lot while you are there couldn't hurt either, and I think (though I am not sure) that cooking eliminates a lot of the risk, which is one reason to be wary of raw seafood.

                              That said, I lived over a year in Mexico and didn't catch it there, but as I learned the hard way when I caught it elsewhere, a vaccine is an extremely wise precaution. Much wiser than prophylactic antibiotics. Ask your care provider.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                Thank you, Veggo, for pointing that out. To a lot of people, Mexico hasn't advanced in anything ever. There can still be risks, especially in eating raw seafood out of waters in communities that empty raw sewage into it.
                                But Mexico is doing more and more to encourage safe travel (cartels notwithstanding), and I for one applaud it as long as they don't go overboard and become parodies of themselves. My favorite place was Puerto Penasco, now I'm not so sure- they limited shrimping, which while necessary, put an element of poverty that wasn't there before, so they went balls-to-the-wall into tourism, which has been a mixed blessing. I still love going there, and have never gotten sick from going there in the last 25+ years. I've said too much, but thanks, Veggo.

                              2. re: duck833

                                Some doctors will prescribe, others won't. Several years ago I was going to be in a semi-rural part of Mexico and asked my Dr. for something to take with me "just in case". He refused. Said I'd be better off getting treated in Mexico by doctors that were familiar with the strains of bugs in the local environment rather than have him take a stab in the dark. Knock wood, I've either been very, very lucky or have an iron constitution - or possibly both - but I have had very few gastrointestinal disturbances in Mexico.

                                I've also eaten the food on Mexicana, AeroMexico, United and Continental on flights out of Mexico back to the U.S. and have suffered no ill effects. In fact, almost to a flight, those out of D.F. have had better food than anything leaving the U.S.

                              3. I stay with bottled stuff, beer soda etc. I'd also stay away from raw veggies, salsa's and only eat meats and other proteins that are well done.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: cstr

                                  Everyone makes individual decisions but if I had to put those restrictions on, I wouldn't go. I'd be giving up more than it would be worth to me.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    You have the great fortune of never getting sick (what was in your water growing up???). For others, for a short term trip (e.g. one-week), these restrictions are usually well worth not losing 50% of your trip admiring the Talavera bathroom tiles. Even on my shortest trips though, I just can't quit those salsas!

                                    I think the person above who cited overconsumption of sun and alcohol is really on point for those who get sick in touristy areas.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      me, too!

                                      I went and got hep A & B vaccines in preparation for my last trip to Mexico. The nurse said "just eat in the hotel - you'll be fine." I told her that if I was willing to eat hotel food I'd just stay home. I didn't tell her that we would be staying at places that might not have toilet seats, much less restaurants.

                                      We happily ate our way across the Yucatan peninsula for three weeks. We ate raw fruits & veggies, aguas frescas, street cart food, ceviche, everything but raw meat or fish.

                                      I had a bad cold on a trip to Mexico once, but that has been my only illness.

                                      Drink bottled water and keep a bottle of good Cuban rum next to the sink, because when you brush your teeth you are going to forget and rinse your mouth out and use water from the tap. Alcohol kills germs, doncha know!

                                      1. re: BeaN

                                        I think you have to know your body and its limits. There are some people who have issues on every vacation they take because they react poorly to any change of diet, while others can go pretty much anywhere and experience no ill effects. I have to be really careful about what I eat on any vacation, but that doesn't stop me from traveling.

                                        1. re: BeaN

                                          funny thing is, I am not sure staying at the higher end places really helps all that much... they could still take shortcuts with hygene.

                                          I am thinking of my two week trip to Ecuador:I never got sick though I did take the precaution of not drinking tap water, or even using it to brush my teeth, for two weeks, when I was in modest accomodations, and later on a boat (though given the boat's filtration system, drinking its water wasnt an issue). Until my last night before coming home. We stayed at the Sheraton or some such in Guayaquil, and i was so exhausted that we decided to get room service and watch West Wing on TV. Sure enough, I forgot where I was in (US hotel, US TV show, in English...) and drank water from the tap: and got deathly ill two days after I got home! I am convinced that brushing my teeth that last night was the cause (though I suppose in theory it could have been my body readjusting: after all, I some folks from other countries get sick when they come to the US)...

                                    2. Only have anecdotal to speak of... whenever I've gone to Cancun or south along the east coast, I've gotten at least a little sick. A couple of times pretty sick. Even when being relatively 'careful.'

                                      Never had a problem in Cabo San Lucas, eating and drinking everything including sushi, fruits/veggies and ice.

                                      1. On my last trip, my doctor gave me an oval vaccine called Dukoral that I took prior to my trip. She also prescribed to me a daily dose of 'good bacteria' (sorry can't remember what it's called). I was gone for a month and it worked well for me. Now before you go out and purchase this, please talk to your physician about it first.

                                        1. Imodium saved my dive vacation in Cozumel years ago.

                                          1. To be on the safe side some people drink nothing but tequila.

                                            1. I went to Mazatlan a number of years ago. Drank only bottled water but ate bananas for breakfast and tomatoes and avocados (with a pocket knife on Sabalo beach!) I didn't get sick but then again I had lived in Paraguay for a year in the early 80s.

                                              1. I was in Mexico for six months last year (home base in Guadalajara). I'm a vegetarian and was often limited in food choices. I am also extremely prone to stomach problems. After my first few weeks in Mexico, I regularly ate salads, other raw vegetables, aguas frescas, salsa, fruit from street vendors, shaved ice, etc. Zero sickness. Once, we went to a very popular Italian restaurant in Guadalajara. I had pasta in pesto sauce and was sick for days. My friend, who ate chicken and spaghetti with tomato sauce, was also ill for days after that dinner. That was it, though.

                                                (NB: I have many strange ideas.) I strongly believe that not drinking Bonafont water was good for me. I forget the names of Coke and Pepsi's bottled water in Mexico, but that's what I stuck to. Bonafont is not purified- it is from a natural spring that is supposedly super-clean.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Jetgirly

                                                  Hmmm....interesting persepctive on Bonafont. I've drunk many liters of it over the years with no ill effects, but gee you never know.

                                                2. What is this a colitis convention?

                                                  Dear OP,

                                                  As someone who is in Mexico every couple of weeks and has traveled through more than half of the states in Mexico I would say a couple sprinkles of advice.Eat quality food in moderate amounts.Raw preparations of seafood are delicious, go to a good stand with a skilled chef/cook.Take nothing to prepare yourself.Eat the unpeeled fruit and the lettuce with abandon.

                                                  The language of people obsessed with how much cleaner their food is than other countries is quite, well, don't want to go there.But, this generally comes from people untraveled or of the touristy variety.I mean, we are getting sick in Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cozymel, and Mazatlan?What are you doing only going to these places anyway? My sister has a condition and gets sick from everything, not mexico's fault.One poster spoke of having general stomach problems.Maybe it's your health?Maybe your going to hotels in a tourist zone that could care less about serving quality food?Maybe you drank too much in Cancun?

                                                  I was in DF two weeks ago, had bugs from a lady with charales all over here hands, blood sausage from a taco stand, cold calves foot tostadas,etc.I have oysters, pata de mula,and almejas from street carts, and it goes on and on. A hound who knows food will pick out the quality food and have no problems.I've been sick from food twice in my life so I'm not impervious, both times at Jack in the Box in my early 20's.

                                                  If you get sick alot, it's a you problem,not Mexico.You go to Cabo and have bad experiences, try Oaxaca or Puebla.There's nothing wrong with the food in Mexico, you're not entering an alien environment.But the common thread here seems to be tourists going to tourist locations.

                                                  C Oliver, you are right, no one should go anywhere assuming illness, and most of us with average digestive systems will have no problems.I'm not attacking the US because of my Jack in the Box experience.If you get sick at a restaurant or stand don't go to that stand, or get better at picking places to eat.Even then, you may become ill sometime, anywhere, for a number of reasons.There's no reason to fear the current food handling in Mexico, as Veggo said.

                                                  Mexico is as safe as any place right now for tourists.Don't sell drugs or work for cartels and you'll be fine.

                                                  It's my personal belief that you don't hold responsible a group, country, or culture to blame for everything that happens to you out of your personal fears.Getting sick is a risk of eating not traveling.People get sick in the US from food all the time.

                                                  smokeking.Worry about where you will find unique food in one of the more non-chowish destinations in Mexico.The state of Jalisco has amazing cuisine, but Puerto Vallarta is a trap with resorts, big margaritas, and American style clubs.Get out of the trinket zone and maybe you'll get lucky.Eat with the locals and ask where the good eats are, and enjoy yourself above all. If I was in town, I'd wash a head of lettuce with local tap and eat it whole in front of you.And, don't ask the concierge where you can get some peptol bismol when you arrive, it's offensive, and they're libel to put something in your food to make you sick:) I'll show that p#$%*% norteamerico some Montezuma's(Moctezuma) revenge!!

                                                  17 Replies
                                                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                                                    Where is the "like" button?

                                                    I'd be happy to eat with you in Mexico.

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        It's actually pretty common for people in Mexico City to drink bottled water, and not just middle and upper classes, but also the lower working class. Garrafones de agua are pretty cheap to come by. Big swaths of Mexico City have problems with their water delivery systems - not only inconsistent, but also the quality that arrives in many areas with poor drainage and sewage. My husband just told me that this became very common after the 1985 earthquake, where water delivery systems broke down, and often were not properly repaired.

                                                        1. re: Cachetes

                                                          Well, it's pretty common here in the U.S. for people to *think* that our water isn't pure enough to drink. But if your husband actually works in the field then I'll consider revising my opinion.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            Okay, strange, the other posts got yanked - no clue why since they didn't seem inappropriate. Anyway, I'm not saying whether the water is safe or not, I'm only saying that many Mexicans drink bottled water. As for my husband workign in the field, I'm confused. He was born and raised in a very poor neighborhood in northern metropolitan D.F.

                                                            As for perceptions about US tap water being unsafe, don't get me started, because I'll rant all day!

                                                            1. re: Cachetes

                                                              What's DF?

                                                              Can't respond to your non-rant cause don't know in which direction it would go. And, of course, off topic :)

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                Oh my. DF = Distrito Federal = Mexico City.

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  Rant - hate the use of bottled water in most cases. Great marketing by a bunch of companies that saw a chance to get rich by pushing the panic button. The money, the waste - none of it makes any sense. Hopefully I won't get bleeped by the mods for being off-topic!

                                                                  1. re: Cachetes

                                                                    Before you/we do, I agree with you'!!!

                                                                    I'm willing to keep an open mind about this especially as it concerns Mexico City. Not your average tourist destination and incredibly populated (the largest in the world, isn't it?)

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      I adore Mexico City from tip to tail - food, people, culture, energy. A friend of mine once called it a huge concrete kitchen! I wish I had the chance to travel a bit more beyond Mexico City - reading the posts by those of you who know the regional cuisine and drink so well makes my mouth water.

                                                                      1. re: Cachetes

                                                                        When I lived in D.F. and the Yucatan, the water truck would stop by twice a week and leave new 5 gallon bottles of agua purificada and take my empties. I can't remember the price, but very cheap.

                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                          Is five gallons twenty litres? Last year, we paid about twenty pesos per garrafon of water, plus we tipped the guy ten pesos because he brought it up to our apartment and put it on the water "rack", and we weren't technically on his route.

                                                                          1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                            Those were the bottles. When I lived about 3km in the jungle, the water guy would tote 6 bottles on his tricicleta, pedaling without a sweat with all that weight on a hardscrabble road. I tipped him well, and gave him ice.

                                                          2. re: streetgourmetla

                                                            Love your post.

                                                            I go to Mexico fairly often and eat my way through as many ceviche stands, central markets, and roadside taco joints as possible. I rarely *watch* what I eat. If it looks good, I eat it. I never get sick.
                                                            The only time I've been really sick was in Puerto Vallarta actually. Traced it back to one of the nicer "tourist" restaurants.

                                                            1. re: AimeeD

                                                              Sounds like you know what your'e doing.It looks good, eat it.Even better than my response, and more concise.Yeah, I don't get the eating at the resorts and tourist zones thing.It's so unchowish.

                                                            2. re: streetgourmetla

                                                              Sick twice in your life from food ... that isn't average, that's an absolutely amazing 99.99th percentile stomach of iron. One I wouldn't mind having ...

                                                              PS I've been sick from Jack in the Box too, but only once. I get sick, I don't go back, that is my rule now.

                                                            3. In the 70's my first wife laughed at me for brushing my teeth w/ beer at a motel in Juarez. She used the tap water and got the revenge down in the bottom of Carlsberg Caverns, w/ no rest facilities. Look out behind stalagmites! One of my fondest memories of that woman. Current wife just got an intestinal bug on the flight over to Seoul, where we are right now. No problems here, though.

                                                              18 Replies
                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                P-keg, I think some people might wonder why you keep trying to make excuses for drinking early in the morning.

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  I need no excuse. Beer is one of the 7 food groups. I always ahve claimed that beer is a great stomach settler. Good for preventing sea sickness too.
                                                                  It was strange to rinse out ones mouth w/ beer early in the morning.

                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                    My mom went to Cancun for a wedding, brushed her teeth with beer, came home feeling just fine and with a killer tan, no less. Alternatively, I did NOT brush my teeth with beer, got very sick in Cancun (as did my traveling companion) and on my way home from Oaxaca, threw up all the way from North Carolina to Hartford...but Cabo...I drank my arse off in Cabo and had a helluva time with not one smidgen of Montezuma's revenge. Was only homesick for more good times and dancing at El Squid Roe! Lesson learned: my mom is sometimes smarter than I am. ;)

                                                                    Mas tequila!

                                                                    Ultimate bottom line: you will NEVER know what did you in as regards food poisoning. I have to say brushing your teeth with beer is not a bad idea!

                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                      We were in Cancun almost 20 years ago and even at that time were advised that Cancun was basically developed for strictly tourists and, for that reason, they had a totally purified water system. That was about the beginning of my drinking water everywhere. Go figure.

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        I was in Cancun roundabout that same timeframe when my girlfriend and I graduated from college (1990). We took a side trip to the ruins and ate lunch en route. We both figured our lunch on the way to Chichen Itza was what did us in as we both got sick at the same time. This was back when you could still climb El Castillo (don't think it's open for climbing anymore). In any case, lucky you. It's certainly no fun to get sick while traveling!

                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                          Sailed from San Diego to Acapulco (with a foray up into the Sea of Cortez as far N as Loreto) in 1979/1980. Spent copious time in all the major ports along the way, including Mazatlan, PV, Manzanillo/Las Hadas (Where Bo Derek and Dudley Moore romped in 10). Lived on shore in Yelapa for a month. Drank the water from the tap everywhere and ate from street vendors at most every opportunity and never got sick once.

                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                            I wish whatever you had was contagious to me and anyone else on this thread who ever got sick in Mexico! You just might be the patron saint of travel sickness! If I carried a picture of your avatar, would that do the trick? ;)

                                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                              I've undoubtedly used up ALL my luck. Next trip down south and I'll probably come down with something that the CDC keeps in Level 5 Bio-Containment under armed guard.

                                                                              And if you wear my avatar as a tailsman of some sort the likelihood is that someone will probably end up trying to sell you windowpane for a good price. ;-D>

                                                                            2. re: Servorg

                                                                              This brings up another consideration that I was discussing with a good friend.

                                                                              Servorg, like many on the LA Boards, exposes himself to quite a variety in diet.Chinese in San Gabriel, I assume you go B and C, right.Mexican, Thai, Eupopean, African cuisines,etc.No doubt you also eat interesting foods at home, a variety of vegetables, fruits, I'm assuming.

                                                                              To speak in general the kind of traveler that frequents resort towns in Mexico don't fit the profile of the adventurous eater.Now, there are many reasons to end up in places like Mazatlan, having a wife as I do, she is more interested in the resorts than going with me on a street food crawl in DF. I work at time in Mazatlan and can find great seafood outside the tourist zone(Zona Dorada).So, I don't thaink eveyone who goes to these places is automatically chow challenged, but I do observe many fitting the typical tourist profile, and choosing bad restaurants.

                                                                              Those who don't eat a variety of foods and sustain themselves on American fast foods, processed foods, high salt and sugar diets, saturated fats, may not be ready for Mexico. Our digestive system can adapt but shouldn't be given a radical jolt. You don't go from being a 20 something fast food junky, to eating fresh fruit you've never tried before from the street. The fruit in Mexico is much more fresh than in the states, and these is much more variety.Trying different foods isn't so extreme when you do it on a regular basis.

                                                                              I would recommend preparing yourself for the foreign diet of choice.Give your stomach time to adapt before the trip.All foods have different levels of bacteria, especially raw foods, so eat some oysters and pata de mula in town before the trip, don't just throw down a dozen oysters after not eating them for 3 years.

                                                                              This is one of the reasons why people like Servorg and myself have few problems traveling.But, eating tourist food is just a bad call wherever you are. It's boring, and ill prepared.

                                                                              When eating on the street stick to popular stands that are well kept.Clean salsas and vegetables, and a tidy work area. High turnover keeps the meats and seafood fresh.Is the seafood in season?Look for good menus and creative salsas, this is indication of a skilled and consumate chef/taquero.Tacos varios?Move along. Tostadas of sea urchin, abalone, and sea snail?Check it out.5 colorful salsas that have unique densities, flavors, and colors?Yes, do check it out. Build up your chops at your local street food stands.

                                                                              1. re: streetgourmetla

                                                                                You've brought up something that I've never thought of. We are never sick when traveling and I always wonder why others are - not why we aren't. Perhaps you're right. We eat at the *joints* - the places where most people we know don't. We buy the freshly made chorizo at a little Mexican place. We eat offal (well, I don't love lots of liver but....) We're mesmerized at a market in Chinatown in NYC with all the *parts* we see there, i.e., all sorts of uterus. (There's something there that looks like Komodo dragon leg - could it be?) We're much more apt to order something we know nothing about. A siren's song to us is lots of pickup trucks in a parking lot. So perhaps our *bowels are always in an uproar* so when we get to more exotic locales what we wind up with is just better of things that we're already used to eating. Thanks for discussing this. I'd have never thought of it.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    CO, Alcohol purifies the food in the gullet. :0))

                                                                                    I almost never get sick (oysters?), was fine in S Korea; but when I lived overseas, I used to get the runs when I returned to the States!
                                                                                    See above post about beer.

                                                                                  2. re: streetgourmetla

                                                                                    I seriously doubt that "fresh" fruit is the problem. I do not eat processed food. I eat lots of locally-grown fresh fruits and veggies, as well as raw oysters, etc. I've eaten street food throughout Asia and the Middle-East, without a problem. I still get sick every time I visit Mexico. I just pack lots of Immodium. IMO, the two biggest things to avoid are salad bars and brushing one's teeth using tap water.

                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                      Practicing safe teeth-brushing in Mexico is how the term "breakfast beer" was born. The first order of business when my Teva's hit the ground in Mexico is a large jug of agua purificada.

                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                        agua purificada. I guess I could keep that beside the sink instead of rum.

                                                                                        I call my Tevas my SUV shoes. They're great.

                                                                                      2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                        I just keep a bottle of Cuban rum by the sink. I know I'm going to forget and ingest some water when I brush my teeth or shower.

                                                                                        1. re: BeaN

                                                                                          According to Hemmingway, strong rum doubles nicely as aftershave.

                                                                                      3. re: streetgourmetla

                                                                                        We also look for the crowds. In Campeche, there's a row of restaurants along the waterfront. They all serve about the same thing, so we looked to see which one was most crowded. That's the place where the food is turning over and kept fresh. It was great!

                                                                        2. We have traveled to Egypt several times, and I can only assume that the intestinal concerns are the same. First, take some acidophilus tablets. We took them when ever we ate, and a couple of extras when we ate anything dodgy or suspected there might be ice in a beverage. We also discovered this amazing drug that is available OTC in Egypt, but not at all in the US. I only mention it because it may be possible to get some there in Mexico. It is called Antinol and it is an intestinal disinfectant. It works like a charm, and unlike Imodium or other such drugs, it goes right to the source of the problem. It is safe enough for babies (it has a dosage amount for babies and young children on the package.

                                                                          1. First thing is try to enjoy yourself, don't look for bacteria behind every ice cube or faucet. You have read a plethora of common sense advice in this discussion so just go with it or there is no point in traveling. That being said, I spent a week in PV last fall and concentrated on water precautions. Ate everything and drank a lot of wine, even ate at the beachside restaurant shacks, ate at the remote Yelapa Beach. I got sick five days after returning to California.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: fresnohotspot

                                                                              {First thing is try to enjoy yourself, don't look for bacteria behind every ice cube or faucet. You have read a plethora of common sense advice in this discussion so just go with it or there is no point in traveling. That being said, I spent a week in PV last fall and concentrated on water precautions. Ate everything and drank a lot of wine, even ate at the beachside restaurant shacks, ate at the remote Yelapa Beach. I got sick five days after returning to California.}

                                                                              That is because it took that long for the "parasite" to incubate.

                                                                            2. I knew this character of a guy who spent his earlier adulthood in the Special Forces, then flipped around and joined the Peace Corps where he spent almost all of his time in Africa (both Sub-Saharan as well as Saharan). His advice for keeping well was to strengthen your digestive tract and liver. Probiotics and Milk Thistle were essential (when he could land a supply), and keeping a clean hand over the mouth of his beer bottle to prevent filthy flies from landing on it.

                                                                              1. Word to the wise. Don't eat ceviche from a stall on the beach.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                  Or unrefrigerated shrimp caught off the shore by a boatload of drunken fishermen with no teeth.
                                                                                  Been there, done that.

                                                                                  1. How can you go to MX and not eat the salsa..?
                                                                                    I have been many times to Yucatan, Cozumel,MC and induldge in all..from shrimp on the beach to taco stands.
                                                                                    I have never been sick in all my travels to MX, Honduras,PR and the Carribean. Europe..now that is a different story!

                                                                                    I am back in Feb for some diving in Coz and PDC..my mouth is watering for some Xni-pec!