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water and food safe?


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#1 SavageRose

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 08:15 AM

Coming to Cozumel for spring break at the end of the month. Can't wait!!!! Sounds awesome. But Mom is giving me kind of a hard time about being careful so I don't get sick. I guess she went like 20 years ago to Puert Valarta and got sick and she doesn't want that to happen to me. Do I really have to drink special water and is it safe to eat in restaurants there? :(
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#2 DanB

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 09:24 AM

From what I have experienced, everyone in Cozumel drinks bottled water. The restaurants serve bottled water (or in a very few case have their own purification systems like Pancho's at Los Cincos Soles) and they all make their ice from the bottled/purified water. The hotels/condos usually provide bottled water - some small bottles, some 5-gallon dispenser units. Restaurant food is fine, even the ones that look pretty low-end from a US mindset. If you buy fresh fruits and vegetables, you should wash them/disinfect them using some special iodine-based drops that you can find in the grocery store produce sections. (The drops I've seen have directions in english. Using bottled water, put in the drops, submerge the fruit/vegetable for the time specified, rinse in another bowl of bottled water) We have never had any problems in our 5 trips there. Have a great time!
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#3 nauticab

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 11:26 AM

a hint to save some bucks.... buy a large bottle of water to keep in your room (unless you have free water service). when you go to restaurants and order water, they will charge you anywhere from 10 to 25 pesos for the bottle. but if you ask for a GLASS OF WATER (vaso con agua), they will serve you purified water from the large garrafones. never a problem....leaves more cash for tips and margaritas!
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#4 pato52

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 01:22 PM

I have had better luck just carrying my own bottle of water into restaurants. That was easier than arguing with waiters over why they could not bring me a glass of water but could only sell me a bottle of water. The waiters at Sorrisi are the worst at not wanting to GIVE you a glass of water.
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#5 Kandy

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 02:36 PM

No worries about the food. Others have commented on the food. The other thing that we do is buy a bottle of Pepto Bismol caplets and take one each morning we are on the island. 10 years ago, Montezuma got me in a big way - I wanted to die. Since doing this Pepto thing at the suggestion of a friend, neither of us has ever had the slightest problem.
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#6 Charles

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 01:14 AM

As your mother told you, always wash your hands before eating. Those pocket sized hand sanitizers are great. When I used to travel into areas of minimal sanitation and very high risk zones, I'd try to be obsessive about hand washing.

Many, many cases of people getting sick here (besides eating buffet food not kept at proper temperatures) are related to excessive alcohol consumption and the dehydration it causes. Excessive coffee would do the same. Air travel is taxing on the body, add a major change in climate (HOT) and people need time to adjust to adjust. Throw in a bunch or rot gut alcohol when your body hasn't recovered from the trip yet, people get sick and blame the food or water. In many ways Mexico pays more attention to details to hygiene of food preparation better than the States. It is not a bad idea to take precaution with fruit and vegetables as is always recommended, but do you really thing the food you buy at home is safer? The FDA standards of using chlorine as a disinfectant in the States is reportedly 95% effective, so you only have a five percent chance of getting sick in the States. I take minimal precautions in Mexico, but I tend to take the very same precautions when staying in the States.

Changes to the water that you are not accustomed to can cause problems. It isn't bad water , it's different. When I first came here the limited television stations would regularly run ads for Pepto Bismo for Mexican travelers on vacations in the States.

It can take some effort to get a simple glass of water. Most often I prefer to drink water with meals. I hate small bottles of water, never mind the price, I don't like the taste and would prefer a glass from a garrafon and no ice please. I know some people must wonder, but rarely do I want any drink with ice. Use common sense and you might should rethink how safe you really are at home. Your highest risk when traveling is often the overpriced swill you have at airports.
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#7 Carey

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 12:04 PM

Some people have cast iron digestive systems and, for whatever reason, seldom if ever get any kind of gastro related maladies. I am not in that number. If there's something that can be gotten from the food or the water, Imma gonna git it.

And those are my credentials for giving my experience and opinions on this subject. I got sick here once when I was still coming as a tourist. Because I'm the only one that ate it, I know it was from the luscious mango I bought, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks before consuming. I thought peeling it would be enough to remove any bacteria but forgot to take into account that the peeler would come into contact with the fruit flesh inside that I would be eating and would also get on the cutting board. Since then I always wash and dry all produce before consuming -- including bananas in the skin--and have never become ill from food since.

I also got quite sick once when I absent-mindedly made a cup of tea with water from the faucet.

My rules for eating out which have stood me in good stead here for 10 years:

#1. avoid raw vegetables like salad except in the very high-end places. Lettuce in particular is difficult to wash and dry well. Cooked vegetables are fine.

#2. Wash hands very frequently and especially before sitting down to a meal. All the little loncherias that are open for lunch have sinks in the corner of the room or a bathroom nearby and its considered good manners as well as good hygeiene to scrub your mitts before you eat.

#3. I always ask for a straw for drinks just in case the rim of the glass didn't get washed as well as it should have been.

#4. Except in the really high end places, I have gotten in the habit of simply taking a paper napkin and wiping off my silverware before using it.

#5. I do this everywhere I travel, by the way, but I have trained myself not only to wash hands frequently particularly after pushing a grocery cart, stepping on an escalator, handling money etc. But I've also trained myself since the swine flu scare to use the knuckles on the back of my hand if I find I need to rub my eyes, nose or mouth. Just a good general precaution in my opinion.

Another piece of good news if you do happen to get ill and aren't feeling good again within 24 hours. There are meds here that works wonders not only to make you feel better but also cure what ails you. Lomotil/immodium AD is super for controlling cramps and diarhea. And you can purchase a course of ciprofloxin here without prescription and for practically pennies. Called SEE-pro. Take 2 500 mg tablets per day for 2 days if you find you're still not feeling good after 24 hours. do NOT however, take this prophylactically. Extremely bad idea as it builds up your resistance for another time when you really might need it.

Also if you happen to become ill ---whether it's from booze overindulgence (the usual suspect) or something else, send someone to the pharmacy in the Chedraui or Mega and have them purchase several bottles minimum of Pediolyte. Carried everywhere and has about 10 times the electrolytes of gatorade. One half liter bottle will rehydrate you faster and better than 10 glasses of water in my experience.

All that said, eat at the restaurants rec.'d in the Food section of this website and new ones that may be posted later by local folks who live here full time and you'll be fine. We get sick just like everyone else and we pass that information around. then the place gets gone from this website and none of us eat there.
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#8 jcole

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 12:31 PM

ok the washing is still a question for me. do you wash all produce? do you wash limes for your beer? or just some things?
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#9 Carey

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 12:37 PM

ok the washing is still a question for me. do you wash all produce? do you wash limes for your beer? or just some things?


Wash all produce. I definitely wash limes! And so do restaurants.
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#10 jcole

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 01:34 PM

ok thanks carey. I will be bringing my laptop next month so your msg box may be busy for a week.
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#11 Carey

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 02:09 PM

ok thanks carey. I will be bringing my laptop next month so your msg box may be busy for a week.


I always tell folks to post their questions in the forums if at all possible. I seldom answer private emails because I'd rather get more bounce to the ounce and not have to keep repeating the same answers. Also if questions are answered in the forum and someone asked the same question next month, we can tell them to search. Fortunately, now we have a robust search feature with this new forum software. I'm sure you understand.
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#12 jcole

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 02:15 PM

I do all the research I can. I have been a member here and on TA for years. Alot of times I can find part of the answer I am looking for but only ask when I need more specifics. Thanks again for your help.
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