It was supposed to be the most romantic week of our lives. Sailing off into the sunset around the enchanting Galapagos Islands, snorkelling in azure waters with sealions and sipping cocktails under the stars to toast our marriage. We’d held our wedding in a castle back in the UK just a month before, and after travelling around Peru and Ecuador for a few weeks, a multi-day cruise around some of the world’s most famous islands was to be the icing on the cake.
Unfortunately it didn’t happen quite like that.
I blame the Pisco Sours. Delicious but powerful, they’re the national tipple of Peru, and during a particularly lively night out in Cusco we forgot to ask for ours sin hielo (without ice!). Rookie Mistake. The next few days were spent hugging toilet bowls, and wondering which end it was going to come out of next. Sometimes it was both at the same time. So romantic. We’ve never been so ill, and just felt like curling up and dying right there.
We had vowed to love one another in sickness and in health, but didn’t realise we’d be cashing in on that quite so soon. Hubbie has always been the strong, independent type, so seeing him whimpering on the bathroom floor was quite a shock. Not how I’d planned on spending our honeymoon.
Perhaps the worst part was not being able to hole up in a guest house somewhere and let nature take it’s course. Nope, instead we had multiple flights, taxi rides and then a week on a boat to contend with. We almost didn’t go. As unattractive as the hostel bathroom in Quito was, it seemed infinitely preferable to the alternative. Yet we’d paid a lot of money for our Galapagos trip, so bunged ourselves up with Imodium and went for it.
Note to self. NEVER take anti-diarrhoea medication. Sure, it might stop you disgracing yourself at the airport, or on the plane, but it doesn’t prevent the feeling that you’re about to explode. So you still have to keep trotting to the toilet, only to experience immense disappointment and frustration in the cubicle. I felt so rough on the flight from Guayaquil out to the islands that I was really quite rude to the enthusiastic and friendly girl who was sitting next to me. She was excited about her trip and just would not shut up. I ignored her thinking I’d never see her again. Of course as luck would have it she turned up to be a fellow passenger on our boat, and since there were only 16 of us it was difficult to avoid each other. Whoops. Isabelle, if you’re reading this, I’m really sorry I was grumpy!
Arriving in the islands and seeing our first sealions basking in the sun on the jetty gave us hope. Things were only going to get better, and we started daring to look forward to our adventure.
Neither of us thought we’d get sea sick. I’d once spent a few weeks crewing a tall ship without incident and Hubbie usually has a stomach of steel, so perhaps arrogantly it had never even crossed our minds. Yet a few hours later, you guessed it, the mal de mer was thrown into our collection of woes. Our cabin was below deck which didn’t help, but luckily we had an en-suite wet room, which was great for showering after snorkelling. And also clearing up after losing control of our guts.
Seriously, our next honeymoon is going to be somewhere far removed from dodgy food and sea sickness.
Tips for avoiding travellers diarrhoea
If you’re travelling to countries where health and hygiene might not be quite what you’re used to, then there are several simple measures you can take to minimise the risks and ensure you can deal with any mishaps:
- Never drink unfiltered water. This includes ice in drinks, which will often be made from local rather than bottled water, and any food which may have been washed in water. Such as salads or fruit. Always brush teeth with bottled water too.
- Make sure you take out adequate insurance before your trip, and check that it covers you in the country you’re travelling to. Not only will it give you peace of mind, it also means you can receive medical attention should you need it without having to re-mortgage your house!
- If you do fall ill, steer clear of diarrhoea bunging-up medicine as that will only prolong the agony. Drink plenty of water and consider rehydration fluids, such as salted water. It tastes vile but your body needs it.
After a few days we finally started to feel better and began to enjoy the cruise of a lifetime. We snorkelled with sealions, turtles and sharks, hiked through colonies of blue footed boobies and enormous albatrosses, and marvelled at the bizarre marine iguanas. It had been a difficult journey, but totally worth it in the end.
We even managed a few of those cocktails. Although we steered clear of the pisco sours.