for the past few days i've been a bit ill. most likely, it's just an extended visit by our fiesty friend, traveler's diarrhea (TD). i'll spare you the gory details of my present acquaintance with the fellow, but if you're considering a trip to belize, you may want to know a few things about TD--you know, stuff like who are his friends? where's he hang out on friday nights?
well, since you asked, TD is a party animal compared to his tropical peers. malaria, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and the cureless dengue fever buzz about in mosquitos and noseums, but TD spends his times in bars, restaurants, and your refrigerator. he's a colorful fellow, that TD, but rumor has it, he has a rather sordid past. the internet tells me that TD first arrived on the scene in the form of fecal matter and that he now makes his home in our food or drinking water. yummmmm.
now, if you travel to belize, your doctors will probably warn you about TD. they'll say "don't drink the water" or "don't eat uncooked vegetables or peeled fruits," but perhaps it'd be more effective to say "don't drink the fecal water" or "avoid those fecal fruits." still, despite my current bout with something rather similar to TD, i recommend ignoring those doctors and drinking that crisp belizean agua. once you arrive in belize, you'll find that nearly all the major restaurants, hotels, and tour agencies claim that their water and ice is purefied, so unless you drink from a bucket, gargle sea water, or wander into roadside shack, you'll probably be fine.
moreover, at some point in your travel through belize, you may experience what i like to call a brazen drinking moment. i first experienced something like this during my visit to gimmewald, switzerland.
after spending the night in an overbooked hostel, i strapped on my 50 pound pack and started up a trail. i was heading for that small dot on my rick steve's map of the alps. the dot appeared to be near the top of a mountain, and as i climbed up and up into the sun, i realized belatedly that i only packed one bottle of water. after several miles, the bottle was empty and i was parched. my climb became secondary to the search for water. but there were no sparkling streams or cool mountain rivers, just cow troughs. i passed one and then another. the third trough was fed by a wooden pipe that vanished into the hillside above my trail. clear liquid cascaded from the pipe into the metal receptacle below. i was panting. i loosened my pack and pulled the empty bottle from an outside pocket. i glanced side to side, ensuring that no incredulous hikers, angry farmers, or jealous cattle were witness to my unsanitary behavior, and then positioned the bottle under the pipe. i waited a moment and took a great swig of cattle water. and for the next few days, life was glorious. i marched from mountain to mountain and never worried about water: there were plenty of cattle troughs in the alps.
the moral of the story is that there may come a time in belize when you're thirsty enough to risk a refreshing glass of well-disguised fecal water. in my case, it was ice. belize is like an outdoor microwave, everything gets warm rather quickly, and that includes bottled water and red fanta. thus, ice is a necessity, and by the end of the trip i didn't bother to ask "is this ice purified?" because their answer was invariably "yes." of course, that may very well explain my present condition.
andrew david. "good looking water" san ignacio town, belize.
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