Food and Water Safety

Precautions make travel anywhere healthier. Give your body a break: keep to a diet it can recognize at first, adding a few new things each day. Get plenty of rest. If you would not eat in a 'greasy spoon' or buy food from a street vendor at home' why risk it elsewhere in the world?

As for drinking water, reports of tap water contamination pop up from time to time, though larger towns have regulated water systems. I tend to exercise more caution in coastal areas and try to follow the saying, 'When in doubt, don't' When you stay at a hotel or reserve in a rural area, you have every right to ask about the source of water. Many travelers take the precaution of drinking bottled water, available almost everywhere, or bottled carbonated drinks, beer, and packaged fruit juices. Contaminated ice continues to be a problem, mainly from the poor hygiene of those who handle it. And remember, if you don't trust the water as safe to drink, don't brush your teeth with it either.

A good substitute for water on a hot day on the coast is the liquid from a pipa, a green coconut. You can get te de manzanilla (chamomile tea) practically anywhere, with water that most likely has been boiled. Several companies offer a variety of delicious, packaged herbal teas. You can always get fine coffee.

The two largest dairy product companies are Dos Pinos and Borden; both are reliable and offer pasteurized products. Laser-treated milk that does not have to be refrigerated until opened is also available.

Raw fruits and vegetables that can be peeled are safer. (That's one reason you carry a pocketknife.) Be sure to try the mamon chino (an exoticlooking red, spiny fruit with a succulent white flesh inside that you suck off a large seed), several varieties of mangoes, pineapples, bananas with the taste of the sun still in them, and cas (wonderful in juice or ice cream). Be careful with the colorful cashew fruit (maranon)-it causes an allergic reaction in some people.

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