Are you getting ready to go on holidays around Asia, South America, Africa, or the Caribbeans ? Do you wish to avoid any gastric disorders ? You are doing well, the turista is able to annihilate your trip. It can trap you in your hotel with the fear of getting away from the toilet, give you great pain, in some serious cases, you may be sent back home for medical repatriation, even worse, the turista can cause irreversible auditory and olfactory traumas to your partner.
If you don’t feel like spending 80% of your vacation in the bathroom, here are the 12 commandments to follow:
Command number 1 : The water from the tap, you will not drink
It may sound perfectly stupid to say so, just as it might have seemed stupid to a microwave brand to specify in the record of its device that it cannot be used to dry pets. Yet, the brand lost a lawsuit against an old lady whose poodle died as a result of a 10-minutes defrosting program.
Do not drink tap water anywhere you are advised against it.
Do not dry your pets in the microwave either.
Command number 2 : From your drink, the ice cubes you will remove
This trap is less obvious, however, an ice cube can be solid tap water. If you are not sure that the ice cubes were made with safe and clean water, ask for ice free drinks. If the ice is already in your glass, remove it quickly before it begins to melt.
Command number 3: in the shower, the mouth, you will close
In the shower, it is common to lift the nose towards the pommel, and open the mouth to give it a rinse. Do not do this, you may swallow some water. Even a tiny amount of impure water may be enough to get you sick.
Command number 4: with tap water, your teeth, you will not wash
Many do so, many get sick. It's hard not to swallow some water when rinsing your mouth with tap water. Use drinking water instead.
Command number 5: raw vegetables, you won’t eat.
In many restaurants for tourists, chefs rinse their vegetables with drinking water, it is not systematic though. A salad washed with tap water contains enough volume of infected water to get you sick.
Same thing for the two slices of tomatoes and the piece of cucumber on top a lettuce leaf, standing as decoration.
Command number 6: peeled fruits, you will not eat
If you are offered a peeled and cut fruit, do not eat it. As for raw vegetables, it could be washed with tap water. Go for fruits with the skin on, and peel it yourself.
Command number 7: vegetarian, you will become
Fish, seafood, chicken, cows etc… all these happy folks are often kept, post mortem, under conditions that completely overwhelm our intestines. In countries where temperatures can exceed 40 degrees, the cold chain is more likely to break down. Some restaurants do not have a fridge, and display their cooked dishes behind a window heated by the sun. If you take a stroll at the market, you will see meat stalls covered with flies, sweating blood on a wooden trestle.Don’t judge a book by its cover, a beautiful restaurant with a clean and well decorated look can be responsible for the worst food poisoning.
However, the chicken often happens be served particularly fresh because after having ordered it, you will see the animal passing in front of you, struggling in the firm arms of its executioner. If hypocrisy does not force you to look away, the kitchen usually doorless, offers the sordid show of the hen’s last moments, lying on the floor, the head held above a water outlet, struggling and yelling, Enjoy your meal !
Command number 8: fried or boiled, you will eat
Frying or boiling our food ensures the death of bacteria that get us sick.
Command number 9: your cutleries or your glasses, you will wipe
Drinking water is precious for some countries, using it for washing dishes is heresy. We tend to forget it because, at home, it just flows from the taps, but we are more willing to literally defecate in it rather than drinking it.
If there are drops of water on your cutleries or in your glass, wipe them carefully, this will do the job.
Command number 10: mayonnaise, you will avoid
If you do not particularly want to get salmonellosis and trigger the equivalent of a big gastroenteritis, do not touch the mayonnaise. In countries where temperatures are very high, finding a pot of mayonnaise on a restaurant table should lead you to ask yourself a series of questions. How long has this mayo been here? Can we reasonably keep this mixture at room temperature, knowing that the room temperature is on average 33 degrees? And if you are smart, you will not touch it.
Command Number 11: Eggs, you'll mistrust
This is also about staying away from salmonellosis. Ordering your food well done, prevents the risk of getting sick, because salmonella would not resist extreme temperatures. Go for fried eggs, boiled, or a good old omelette.
Command number 12: your hands, you will wash
The bacteria responsible for gastric disorders during your vacation (and indeed many other diseases) are also transmitted by our hands.
With all this, am I certain not to suffer from the turista?
There is no such thing as zero risk. “Turista” is a general term for the gastric discomfort experienced by travellers. Changing diet suddenly can lead to mild diarrhoea and that's exactly what you're expecting when visiting a new continent. Luckily, those kind of digestive disorders are not painful or disabling.
Many factors do not depend on you and your efforts. In some countries, hygiene standards are hard to pin down. It is not rare to see the kitchen’s sink on the floor used as a watering hole by a team of dehydrated hens. An old and dodgy-looking cat will surely have repeatedly put his anus on the kitchen worktop.
You can wash your hands as much as you want, who tells you that the restaurant’s chef did it too?
Although the food is fabulous In Asia, it is often prepared by expert hands, not always very clean, in the street, and almost on the floor. The streets are full of wonderful "street food" stalls, where the delicious dishes, mainly from the previous days, are smoked by scooters’ exhaust pipes.
In warm countries, bacteria proliferate abundantly, consider the 12 commandments, but be prepared for intestinal discomforts, that are part of the journey.