The Urban Wanderer

Crossing Borders ~ Bridging Cultures ~ Traveling Responsibly

Food Poisoning Fiasco

This post is originally from February 17, 2023

I think I jinxed myself by writing about being sick on the roads in my last post! Yesterday we had an early start as our transport was to pick us up at 6am. As soon as I woke up I knew that something wasn’t right as I was feeling incredibly nauseous. Definitely not a great way to spend the next 12 hours in a vehicle right?!

One thing I can say about the roads I’ve experienced in Mexico is that there are an abundance of speed bumps! I’m not kidding you when I say that there is probably one every 100 meters! This makes a long drive that’s winding even longer…and when you are sick, it is actually quite torturous!! After several bouts of vomiting I had to get them to stop the vehicle because I couldn’t feel my arms and was super close to fainting. After I was basically dragged out of the vehicle and slumped over a rock on the side of the road for a bit,I felt human enough to keep going. I felt incredbily bad to hold the entire group up as I know we had a long day ahead of us. Let’s just say I never want to have to experience that again. 

After about 6 hours we hit the border crossing into Guatemala. Here we all had to get out of our vehicle, take our bags and head to the line to get our passports stamped. It was a bit of a walk in the sun so I was lucky to have others help me with my bags. The only bag I carried across the border was a barf bag. Who can say they’ve carried their vomit across borders!

The last 6 hours were no better for me. I truly contemplated asking them to just drop me off at a town because the winding roads were never ending and I just wanted to be on solid ground. By the time we got to Panajachel I was completely spent. The sickness lasted all night long and by the next morning I was not in great shape.  Thank goodness I have Liza with me, because she took care of me and asked our guide about finding me a doctor. It just so turned out that there was a pregnancy and labor clinic right next to our hotel. They took me in and hooked me up to IV right away. Even though I was not their typical patient and I heard babies crying in the background, they took amazing care of me. They gave me medication, did blood work and even ordered toast for me…first class service right there! My nurse didn’t speak a word of English, but Google Translate became our dear friend. 

What was actually wrong with me? The diagnosis was a bad case of food poisoning. What did I eat you ask? Well…the night before Liza and opted to not join the group for dinner because we were tired and wanted to be back at the hotel as soon as we could to have an early night. We chose a restaurant on the main street and although we did question why we were the only patrons in there, we felt we should stay because we could give them business. I had a veggie pasta which you would think would be safe…clearly not. Lesson learned – only go to places that have other people eating there!!

Obviously the group’s itinerary carried on and Liza and I had to stay back. Even though we were both gutted that we couldn’t do this part of the tour, it actually worked out perfectly because we would stay in Panajachel where the group would come back to after a day and a half. The group got to venture by boat to villages that surround the beautiful Lake Atitlan and spend the night at a Homestay which is one of G Adventures Planetera projects. It has helped build income for the locals by having travelers stay with a local Mayan family, prepare meals etc. When we booked this trip, this is the place that I looked forward to the most. I missed coming here on my last trip to Guatemala so I was more than excited to finally experience the communities around Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlán is a body of water in a massive volcanic crater that is ringed by steep hills and volcanoes with striking peaks.  I’m so sad that we missed out on this adventure but also incredibly grateful that I was able to get the care I needed. 

I’m not going to lie when I say I’m nervous for tomorrow’s drive. It is supposedly another winding road but thankfully it’s only about a 3 hour journey to Antigua. Never a dull moment in the Halpern world huh?! 

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