Food poisoning during the Dominican honeymoon means Pepto-Bismol and baby wipes

Kansas State University student, and news hunter and gatherer, Gonzalo Erdozain (right, sorta as shown), finally got away on his honeymoon to the Dominican Republic after classes ended last week. Gonzalo returned yesterday and shares his tale below.

I probably contracted a slight case of food poisoning while honeymooning in the Dominican Republic.  So did my wife, and I spent my birthday, literally, in the bathroom and having to use baby wipes on sensitive and inflamed, uh, skin.

We apparently weren’t alone.

The Toronto Star reported yesterday that five passengers aboard a WestJet flight from the Dominican Republic were taken to hospital by ambulance Wednesday night after apparently suffering from food poisoning.

I’d like to know the resort where those other sick people were staying, but if it was anything like ours, it became rapidly apparent that food safety standards in the U.S. are still much, much higher than those of the Dominican Republic.

The resort was luxurious and the service was indeed top of the line, but what they consider to be safe and appropriate is just different than what Americans do.

Gonzo’s do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do advice when visiting a resort in the Dominican:

• don’t eat ceviche that isn’t cold enough or that isn’t entirely covered by lemon and lime juice (which is what is supposed to kill microorganisms;

• don’t eat the fruit they put as decoration on your drinks, its been sitting out all day at the bar in temperatures around 80-90F; and,

• if you want to be extremely careful, even though the hotel tap water is purified, always use bottled water if it will end up in your mouth such as washing your toothbrush, mouth guard (yes, I wear one myself due to grinding), or even rinsing the toothpaste from your mouth – if you use the tap water for any of these, and it happens to be tainted, you will get sick.

Bonus traveler tips: A small bottle of Pepto-Bismol at the hotel costs $18, the equivalent of a year’s supply in the U.S., and yes, baby wipes are available, but there is nothing funny about having to go to the pharmacy and buy baby wipes in a couples-only resort.

Blowing (food) chunks on vacation

Amy, Sorenne and I are hanging out in Venice, Florida, and I do most of the cooking. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies from the neighborly Publix supermarket, and I even bought a digital, tip-sensitive meat thermometer from Target because I just feel naked cooking without one.

Others aren’t so fortunate, I guess.

A group called HolidayTravelWatch, somewhere in the European Union, has just published its top-20 appalling holiday complaints and problems. Included in this year’s list:

1. Family holiday to Egypt where a child was struck down by severe food poisoning, hospitalization and subsequent scalding in the hotel restaurant.

2. Family holiday to Turkey found that most of their group were ill, they were diagnosed as suffering with Salmonella and Cryptosporidium.

12. One family reported that they had returned from Turkey and their daughter had been diagnosed with Salmonella – they report that many people were ill at the hotel.

15. Holidaymakers to one hotel in Egypt reported sewage smells on the complex, gardens irrigated by stagnant water, food lukewarm, drinks served through a hatch and not via sealed bottles – they suffered severe gastric illness which still continues.

17. One family to Egypt suffered with food undercooked, poor chef hygiene practices (one chef was seen to handle bloody meat then touch other food), flies on the food in the pool bar, sewage smells in bathroom, cracks on the balcony and they are suspected as suffering with Cryptosporidium.

20, One couple’s trip to Egypt was marred by building work, diarrhoea on the public toilet walls, diarrhoea in the restaurant. They both suffered severe illness and weight loss – they are still ill.