My Wife Tried to Poison Me: Funny Stories from the Road


It's extremely vital to life.

And when you tell people from the US that you're going to Mexico they typically say something like "don't drink the water".

So my whole life spending days, weeks and now months in Mexico I have been trained and ingrained not to drink the water. Not to brush teeth with the water etc. Becky has as well.

We knew all this coming into Mexico so we prepared. We ordered a water filter from friends of ours and installed it in the RV. The best part of this filter is that we don't care what water source we hook up to, we know that we won't get sick from drinking the water in Gracie. We can shower, brush teeth and even drink teh tap water. It's a luxury that we forget about on a daily basis. The filter is so sweet because it doesn't require replacement cartridges, it has a backflush system built into it, and it works really well at keeping out the bacteria.

It however doesn't adjust the flavor of the water or remove chemicals, so when we get water that is too treated with chlorine it's a bummer and we look forward to the next time we can empty and fill our water tank.

Fast forward 6 months, we've been living in Gracie for a full year, 6 months of that were in Mexico. No one has been sick, no one has had the "Montezumas Revenge" Why? Well we never thought about it. But it has to be that filter.

Right now we're staying at a couple of Airbnbs and hotels as we investigate which mountain city we want to spend the summer in. We've left Gracie at the playa (beach/ocean) while we explore and investigate. Hopefully we only have to drive Gracie in the mountains once, versus driving her up and down into the mountains three times while we try to figure out where we want to live.

And our first round of sickness came our first week in an airbnb... somehow Thys and I slipped and had something that made us sick.

We got healed up from that and now we're in Oaxaca.

Last night I got really sick, and no one else did. It drives me crazy trying to figure out what I did wrong, where I slipped up. Was it the restaurant we ate at yesterday? Was it the cheese that might be getting old in our fridge, but someone else ate that cheese too. I was certain that it was food poisoning but everything I ate someone else ate as well.

While I was making breakfast this morning it dawned on me, Becky gave me a cup of tea while I was working yesterday. She didn't have a cup, just me. It tasted great and I downed it. The perfect gesture of kindness from my wife, and boy was it awesome!

Nothing is as great as a good cup of tea while cranking on work

Nothing is as great as a good cup of tea while cranking on work

So by now you know that the tea was the source of poison, the protozoa that wreaked havoc on my system was in that ill fated cup of tea. But how? Becky wouldn't do that on purpose! What went so wrong?

To answer that you need to know that the kitchen here doesn't have a hot water tap. Becky dislikes doing dishes in cold water, so we heat tap water on the stove during a meal so she can mix that with cold water to make warm water for doing dishes. Before I start pointing the finger (I think I already have!) I must explain that I hate doing dishes. I'll do many things around the house but dishes seems like such a waste of time. So this is partly my fault for not doing the dishes.

Anyways, yesterday after she was done with breakfast dishes she had one of those pots of hot water left over, and she thought, I'll be kind to Paul, I'll do something that he really enjoys. I'll make him tea with the remaining hot water.

The two pots we use to warm water at a meal. Plus the sauteing carrots from breakfast this morning

The two pots we use to warm water at a meal. Plus the sauteing carrots from breakfast this morning

Never once did it occur to her that this was tap water.

Tap water that hadn't actually been boiled.

Technically to kill the bacteria you need to have the water under a rolling boil for a minute and at elevations it needs to roll for 3 minutes. Where we're at it needs to be somewhere around 2 minutes at a rolling boil. The water never boiled. It was just hot, not boiling.

Mystery solved, Becky feels a ton of guilt and I'm having fun giving her a hard time, simple mistakes like this are funny and a part of living in a different culture. One night of uncomfortableness is nothing compared to a hospitalization etc, I skated through it just fine, but man is it funny.

Something I learned this time around in Mexico is that locals suffer from drinking tap water too, their bodies are just like us (weak) gringos. That's why there are so many Aqua Purificadas (reverse osmosis stores which sell water is 5 gallon garrafons). Restaurants, street food stands and other vendors know to serve purificada water, to everyone, not just gringos, because if their clientele get sick from their food/drink they won't be in business for long.

Funny thing is we did it to ourselves, because we've been so spoiled with a great water filter.

Have any funny "don't drink the water" stories?

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Paul Kortman

Dad of 4, husband, blogger, digital marketer, follower of Jesus. I podcast at and own We're on this crazy journey to travel the world as a lifestyle. Looking for help in how to live as a digital nomad family? Join this Facebook Group!

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