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Old 05-06-2008, 00:38   #1
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Water in Mexico

I am starting to feel like a one trick pony...

How far south does the water issue go? Like, is this really a "south of the US border" kind of thing? How is the tap water in Guatemala?

Bottled water available? Expensive? Actually clean?

Do watermaker enabled cruisers sell their water to other cruisers?

Can't you get an additive to make the bad water safe?

I can (and will) probably talk myself into a fridge but it is unlikely that I will be watermaker enabled.
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Old 05-06-2008, 05:15   #2
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Some recommendations about Third World food & water:

WATER:
Do not drink the tap water. For liquids, stick to dependably bottled water (best is often the local Coca Cola bottler), beer, or major brand soft drinks.
Get those in original containers, not a less-than-clean glass. Do not let someone stick a straw in your newly opened bottle unless you get it in original package; the plastic straws are commonly re-used.
And no ice unless you know it was frozen from bottled water.
Do not wash your face under a shower; too many orifices where bugs can get into your system. Use a damp washcloth.
Toothbrush never goes under the tap; to break the habit, I put a washcloth over the spigot while brushing. Brushing with bottled water may seem awkward, but get used to it. (I even brushed my teeth with beer on one occasion).

FRUITS & VEGGIES:
No fruits or vegetables, unless they have been peeled or cooked under conditions you have reason to trust. That means no lettuce at all, no lettuce or tomato on burgers, no green salads. (Exception in a major tourist hotel.) Fruit juices are excellent, if you get them where you have reason to believe they were prepared in sanitary conditions.

HAND WASHING:
Wash hands often, very often, every opportunity, especially before eating. If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (Purell sanitizer etc).
If impossible to wash before a meal, do not touch food, or with hand-held food (such as bread), hold it at one place only, eat off the other side, leave the part you handled. And discipline yourself to keep your hands away from face.

See also:

Health Information for Travelers to Mexico
Health Information for Mexico | CDC Travelers' Health

Health Information for Travelers to Guatemala
Health Information for Guatemala | CDC Travelers' Health
and:
Water Treatment Methods | CDC Travelers' Health

Improved Drinking Water - Guatemala
http://www.wssinfo.org/pdf/country/GTM_wat.pdf
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Old 05-06-2008, 06:09   #3
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Water in the eastern Caribbean is generally regarded as safe, but if you see where some of it is stored, it does makes you wonder a bit.

We installed a Seagull IV water filter, made by General Ecology. It's certified by the US EPA to remove bacteria, cysts, etc. We were buying and hauling gallon jugs of water before installing the filter. It was a big relief not to have to lug water, and not to worry about what we were drinking.
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Old 05-06-2008, 07:40   #4
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I backpacked for a couple months through Costa Rica and my fiancee and I had no issues with the water or vegetables. I guess it really depends on each specific country (which Mexico is probably one to be careful in).
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:49   #5
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BTW, washing vegetables and fruit in a mild chlorine bleach solution is a good way to kill germs and any buggy critters that you don't want to cohabit with on your boat.

As far as purifying water, I remember in the Boy Scouts we used to use bromine tablets to purify a quart canteen at a time. Tasted awful.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:57   #6
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Water

Jack,


We have been in Mexico for a bit over 4 years now. You can get bottled water almost every place.
On the Baja, the water was good at a lot of places. On the mainland no so much.


We got a PUR water filter that fits on the faucet. Like the 3 stage one here...
PUR Water Filter Systems: Healthy Water, Healthy You
Then we bought a dozen filters to take with. Each one lasts us about 3 or 4 months. It works GREAT and the cost is a LOT lower than the Seagull.


In every food store they sell a couple of water additives for cleaning your fresh veggies. The one we use is called Bacdyn. You put a couple of drops in a pan and wash/soak the stuff..


One problem you might have is getting water in the Sea of Cortez. Last year was not bad, but the year before a couple of villages lost half of the livestock due to a drought!


Good luck and don't worry to much about it!


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Old 05-06-2008, 10:02   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Long View Post
How far south does the water issue go? Like, is this really a "south of the US border" kind of thing? .
Have never had any concerns or problems in Panama or Chile. However, usually cautious after any very heavy rains.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:25   #8
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Broke most of the rules

I spent a lot of time in Bonaire when working on Megayachts. It was one of the owner's favorite destinations, being an avid diver.

That island makes their water from the ocean using a huge watermaker, so it was completely safe to drink. This bucks the rules for the area. So... I would advise to just talk to other gringos in the area and find out what's safe and what isn't. The answer is very location-specific.

I have broken most of Gord's rules... and got sick several times in the process. BUT... I do feel that getting sick and getting used to the new bugs/germs/colds/etc... is something that you will want to do if you plan to live down there.

I have traveled over much of the world and have drank tap water, ate vegetables, and got my fair share of stomach bugs from doing so. However, I'm now a little more immune to them.

The worst stomach bug was in Tel Aviv, Israel. I went to a "meat house" where you turn a little indicator on your table to one position and they bring you MEAT... more meat than you can possibly imagine and of what animals you haven't a clue. When you turn the indicator the other way, they stop hauling over the meat. Much of the meat is still breathing. I was sick for a week after that place.

The only time I was a little nervous was in Milano, Italy. I came home from a big night of drinking with the clients (this was work related) and had no water, so I just drank my fill from the hotel washbasin tap.

The next day, when I happened to mention this to the clients I was visiting, the looked at me like I was about to die. They couldn't imagine I drank that water.. ha ha ha.

But if you think about it:

Everyone who lives where you visit has been eating those vegetables, going to those restaurants and drinking that water all their lives - and they are plenty healthy. It's a matter of getting used to the new bugs (in potable water).

Of course, if you want a fun, carefree experience and don't plan to stay long, do as Gord says!

Also, when you do get sick (you will at some point), drink plenty of water to flush out the stomach bugs.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:47   #9
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Bromine is usually used to sanitize swimming pools and spas. Bromine tablets are typically 1-bromo-3-chloro-5,5-dimethylhydantoin.

I’d recommend “Aquatabs” water purification tablets, which are made with NaDCC known also as sodium dichloroisocyanurate or sodium troclosene which offers significant advantages over old water treatment methods such as Iodine, bleach / hypochlorite, halazone, chloramines and others in the prevention of cholera, typhoid, dysentery, diarrhoea and other waterbourne diseases.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:53   #10
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Food and Water in Mexico is Generally Safe (but varies by location)

Contrary to Gord's email, you're not dealing with nuclear waste when it comes to food and water in Mexico.

We've lived in Mexico over half the year since 2004 and traveled extensively inland.

We have a health immune system. If your immune system is impaired I would not do what we do.

We've eaten in many restaurants, loaded our tank with water from the docks in Cabo, La Paz, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Barra de Navidad with no problems (we drink the tank water after it goes through a plumbed in General Ecology filter).

Since entering Mexico on Raptor Dance in 2004, we've never had a food (or water) borne illness in Mexico. We have gotten food poisoning however twice when back in California and once in Pennsylvania.

Water in many locations in Mexico is fine. In Puerto Vallarta for example, the tap water tests safer and cleaner than a lot of the US. Inland you may be better off with bottled water. In fact, we found the water in Mexico cleaner and safer than the water in British Columbia (where we cruised in 2005).

Similarly, the food is generally safe - even from the street vendors.

The advise I would give is to be aware of the local surroundings, look at how the food is prepared, look at how clean the restaurant/food cart is, etc. and if in doubt Ask other cruisers!

Washing your hands often is excellent advice, but I would NOT rely on sanitizing hand wipes: ref: Antibacterial wipes can spread superbugs: study - Yahoo! News

Oh and I've never heard of one cruiser selling water maker water to another. It's often given away, but out here, selling it would probably be frowned upon.

Yes, people still get sick in Mexico, but the sanitation here is MUCH better than it was even 10 years ago.

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Old 05-06-2008, 13:59   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssullivan View Post
<snip>

The worst stomach bug was in Tel Aviv, Israel. I went to a "meat house" where you turn a little indicator on your table to one position and they bring you MEAT... more meat than you can possibly imagine and of what animals you haven't a clue. When you turn the indicator the other way, they stop hauling over the meat. Much of the meat is still breathing. I was sick for a week after that place.
<snip>
Sean, I love this part . . . you made me laugh out loud! Thanks.

Oh . . . FWIW . . . I recommend taking a pass on the Filet o' Fish sandwich if you ever eat at the MacDonalds in Studio City, California. I've never wanted so much to just die.

Also, if you've ever heard someone say they had "Stomach Flu," there's no such thing. What they had was food poisoning.

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Old 05-06-2008, 17:04   #12
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The only actual food poisoning I ever got in Mexico was at a Carl's Jr. I always thought it ironic that with all the random side of the road stuff I ate it was my one visit to an American fastfood chain that did me in!
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Old 05-06-2008, 21:24   #13
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A meat house in Tel Aviv? Argentine style, no doubt?

My how things have changed, when i was there it was "schnitzel" or chicken and beef was the rare thing they sold in the American Hotels.

Well, if you look up the numbers on food poisoning here in the US every year--no surprise it caught up to anyone somewhere, sometime.

I'm a firm believer in distrusting water. Using a UVC light (Steripen) or chlorine or iodine or a microfilter...but SOMEthing. At least BOILING. Especially if I can't afford to come down with dysentery, and who really can?
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Old 05-06-2008, 22:07   #14
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We cruised in Mexico for 1-1/2 years. Probably got sick (sore tummy) about 2 or 3 times, most likely from some street food. We filled our tanks lots of places but always asked if the water was potable. Most of the time the local folks would say "sure"; when the said "no way" we'd trust them! We never bought bottled water except one small Baja town where there was no option, caught a lot of rain water (more growth in rain water in jerry jugs than in our tanks by the way) and didn't have any concerns. We did drink a lot of juice and pop when ashore.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:13   #15
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... Also, if you've ever heard someone say they had "Stomach Flu," there's no such thing. What they had was food poisoning.
Not necessarily.

Viral Gastroenteritis, also known as Stomach Flu, is a viral (rotaviruses, noroviruses, adenoviruses, sapoviruses, & astroviruses.) infection that affects the stomach and small and large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is not caused by bacteria, nor by influenza viruses.

Bacterial Gastroenteritis is also known as food poisoning, and is caused by food that has been prepared or stored improperly.

See also:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Branch
Disease Listing, Foodborne Illness, General Information | CDC Bacterial, Mycotic Diseases
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