Beating Montezuma at His Own Game

Did your mom ever tell you that the best revenge is living well?  Mine did. I mention this because we were in Mexico over spring break, living very well…

…and then you-know-what happened.  Not to me, but to my husband Thom.

I was so wary of getting sick that I rinsed my toothbrush with bottled water, and kept my mouth shut in the shower, even when I forgot my towel and wanted to holler for a towelgram.  When the water quality is in question, I don’t drink anything that doesn’t come out of a bottle or a can.  Well, for the most part.

After snorkeling by the second largest coral reef in the world, we came ashore and the boat crew opened up the bar.  Thom brought me a Diet Coke on ice.  Horrified, I immediately scooped out the ice cubes, dashed them to the sand, and sanitized my hands.  (Just kidding, but I DID remove the ice from the cup.)  Not wanting to waste all that Diet Coke, I asked the barkeeper to add two shots of tequila to the concoction to kill any microscopic critters in the cola.  Thom obviously didn’t have enough to drink, because I felt fine afterwards (A childhood diet of hot dogs and Franco-American Spaghetti left me with an iron stomach), while his intestines were definitely unhappy.  Of course, it might’ve been The Lemonade of Unknown Origin Thom had consumed the previous day, which, ironically, is the opposite of making lemonade out of lemons.  In any case, we were not going to be redeeming our coupons that night for free margaritas at the mariachi party.

Thom rested and read, while I ran to the store for sick person food.  If you’re a traveler or a parent, you probably know about the BRAT diet.  In the aftermath of intestinal upheaval, Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast are easy on the system.

The hotel store didn’t stock applesauce.   I bought four Granny Smith apples, bread for toast, bananas, and a bottle of vino.  Back in our room, I had a glass of wine, just in case.  I peeled the apples, threw them into a pan on the stove, and Holy Montezuma, Batman!  It’s homemade applesauce!

Thom didn’t feel up to eating that night, but applesauce is what the dear lad broke his fast on the next morning.

He was in no condition to hop on the ferry to Isla Mujeres to go snorkeling.  But we had a lovely walk on the beach just outside our hotel.

Watching the pelicans diving for fish…

…was almost as good as doing it ourselves.

And the People Watching was even better.

When you’re traveling, smooth sailing is a bonus, not the rule.

We followed the example of the iguana outside our hotel.  After an obvious run of bad luck, his could’ve been a very sad tail indeed.   But he is giving himself the gift of a happy ending.

Besides, my mom also used to say, “Leave something for the next time, so you have a reason to come back.”

All words and images c2013 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops!


  1. Even minor catastrophes are memorable – you’ll never forget the spring break you took the first year the children were gone … What luck it was just a 24hour microbe and not one of those raging invasions that take over a person’s insides for four or five days (as R endured in Delhi the first time we were there!). And, as you say, the reef will be there for another time and you basked in the sunshine and swam with the fishes and had a break from that never ending winter. Sweet post Naomi :).

    1. Dear Meredith,
      It was lucky indeed! We did much of what we had hoped to do, and it was sweet to take a day of rest together. As you so astutely understood, this was a very important trip, as it was the first big trip we have taken just the two of us, without the kids. I am happy to say that, in spite of everything, it was a lovely experience. Thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment.

  2. scillagrace says:

    Been to Mexico a few times and only got mildly sick the first time. Never heard the BRAT rule; I’ll have to remember that. What I’ll never forget about Mexico: the color of the water, iguanas roaming everywhere, sea turtles, Chichen Itza & Tulum, and almost dying on the Bob Underwater Scooter!

    1. Hi Scilla,
      I can’t get over the iguanas–HUGE and UBIQUITOUS! We really enjoyed Chichen Itza. And I am VERY glad you lived to tell the tale!

  3. pattisj says:

    Not much of a traveler, so I appreciate your wisdom. Sorry to hear your hubby had to put up with that.

    1. Hi Patti,
      He was a trooper! A day of rest was what he needed, and another gentle day of light activity. In some ways, it was a forced vacation from our vacation, and the dear lad weathered it well. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  4. indira2412 says:

    Very well written travelogue with beautiful picture. Enjoyed.

    1. Hi Indira,
      Thank you for your visit. It is always good to hear form you. I have been enjoying your blog as well!

  5. What a beautiful photos! I also like the spontaneity of local people who you have immortalized…
    But your poor husband… I do not think you ever learn the “lesson” of water & ice… we fell in it several times too!
    But like your mom used to say: let sth. for the next time! (At least for you Mexico is near ..)
    wish you a lovely weekend, 🙂 claudine

    1. Dear Claudine,
      Thank you for your kind words. It could have been so much worse! I feel fortunate to have gotten through it without getting sick, and Thom was only down and compromised for a couple of days. We will definitely go back.

      It is so good to hear from you! I hope your weekend has been good.

  6. It’s rotten being poorly when you’re away from home – he has my sympathies

    1. He is such a good sport, and already he is feeling better. Thank you for your kind words, which I have passed on to the dear lad! I hope you are well. Internet was so sketchy at our place that I haven’t been able to keep up. I made a foray out to a wi fi zone to post once while we were gone, but am catching up now.

  7. Rosa says:

    The BRAT is new to me but will definitely remember – not for myself, because I was also supplied with an iron stomach.
    love you pictured story

    1. Dear Rosa,
      You are fortunate too! We raised our kids on the BRAT diet whenever they had an upset stomach, and can swear by it. Thanks so much for your visit.

  8. bebs1 says:

    You saved the day – as they say when you’re handed lemons, make lemonade. Glad your husband recuperated fast.

    1. I think Thom would have recovered, applesauce or no. I am such an unexceptional cook that I have to admit that I was quite pleased to know exactly how to make from scratch the exact dish he wanted. Thanks so much for your visit!

  9. viveka says:

    Fantastic gallery … never been Mexico – great post … my favorite of you lovely photos is the boat out on the ocean. Love how you have caught the blues .. and that and that you have manage to caught the slaps from the waves. Stunning.

    1. Thank you! This was my first trip past the tourist shops at the California border, and it was really interesting. Thank you for taking the time to comment–it is very interesting to me to know which photos appeal to different people. That particular photo was taken when I looked out at the horizon and saw what looked like a whale spouting, but the big white splashes were too regular and coming too fast to be a whale. I love my camera, which isn’t really very fancy, but even more I love my zoom lens!

      1. viveka says:

        Great to read about your passion … doesn’t really matter is the camera is the best on the market .. if the user don’t connect with it, because that is what it’s about.
        That photo is brilliant in my eye .. just because of the splashes …. Same with me .. I enjoy when people tell me witch photo is their favorite, because we all have different views.

  10. Laurel Leigh says:

    It’s so fun to see pics from Mexico. I haven’t been there in a long while and love the place. My ex met Montezuma there–upon feeling queasy after lunch, his solution was to drink more beer. Needless to say, he did not live well that evening. I love the iguana pic!

    1. Dear Laurel Leigh,
      First of all, I love your name! It sounds like a movie star or the protagonist of a romance novel. Your story about your ex cracks me up, and makes me think it is probably a good thing he is you ex! Thanks so much for your visit, and for taking the time to share your stories and comments. I love to know which photos appeal to different folks. I can’t believe we stumbled upon an iguana that had lost its tail. Regeneration of lost limbs or tails is nothing less than a miracle to me.

      1. Laurel Leigh says:

        Thanks, Naomi! If I were the protagonist of a romance novel maybe it would pay more! The one thing my ex and I did well together was travel to Mexico, although we never saw an iguana that had regenerated its tail. Sigh, if I could regenerate a few body parts maybe I could get that romance novel gig. I hope you get back to Mexico soon so you can take more pics. Keep the awesome posts coming. You are working so hard!

  11. We have used the BRAT diet many too many times to remember. Great pics, but so sorry Thom felt yucky.

    1. Dear Paula,
      Thom is feeling much better. It came and went mercifully fast. Three cheers for the BRAT diet! I have corroboration! Now readers will l know that I am not making this up!

      1. 😉 Our son was hospitalized when he was six…e-coli. He was very fortunate, but lived on the BRAT diet for a very long time!!! SOOOO glad Thom came thru it quickly!

  12. ShimonZ says:

    I barely saw the pictures, I was so saddened by Thom’s misfortune in Mexico. I spent quite some time there when I was traveling, about fifty years ago… My theory is that it’s really the water, but a change in the environmental microbes that may get to you whenever you go from one country to another. Eventually, the system learns to deal with it, but it can be very difficult when it strikes you suddenly. Hope he is feeling better now. I fell in love with Mexico, and enjoyed myself very much. The people are warm and free in spirit, and the climate is warm too. Apple sauce is wonderful… so are cocktails…

    1. Dear Shimon,
      I would love to hear stories of your travels there! I am sure that it was a very different place fifty years ago, but some things don’t change, and that would be the warm spirit and generosity of everyone we met down there. Thank you, dear friend, for your kind words for Thom. It could have been so much worse. My cousin went to Merida, and her poor husband was sick almost the whole time they were down there. We had a day of recovery, and a slow, light day, and then he was through the worst of it. Sometimes it takes something like this to slow us down, and many good things came of that.
      P.S. The cocktails were even better than the applesauce!

  13. The only time I was in Mexico about 16 years ago, I met Prince Montezuma too. My holiday didn’t get spoiled because I met him at the airport. Barely made it in the door at home after a long airport limo ride from the airport.

    Sorry to hear about your hubby. I never knew about the four swords against Montezuma. I’ll have to memorize them.

    1. Dear Tess,
      If it had to happen to you, it sounds like it couldn’t have happened at a better time–when the trip and traveling were over, and you could recover in the comfort of your own home, without mussing a day of vacation. We were actually pretty lucky too, as we mostly had one day off, and then another with moderate activities not too far from our hotel.
      Thank you for sharing your story!

  14. Amy says:

    Sorry to hear about Thom… You did a right thing, thank you so much for sharing the the BRAT diet!

    1. Hi Amy,

      Thank you! The dear lad is completely recovered, no worse for the wear.

  15. Linda says:

    i didn’t know about the montezuma “brat cure” (just the b and r part) diet, but i did know about “leaving something behind; a reason for a return visit” adage. sorry you got sick, thom! it did, however, give me a moment of pause to think how lucky we are not to have to worry about something as basic as water making us ill!

    1. Hi Linda!
      Yes, the BRAT diet is great, mostly because you never forget the four ingredients, because they fit together so nicely to spell out a memorable word. Thom is completely recovered, but I passed on your good wishes. You are absolutely right about the water. Since we returned, I haven’t turned on a tap or brushed my teeth without being extremely grateful for a clean source of water piped into our house.

  16. I’m like you: pretty much have an iron stomach, but also try not to take any chances. I have brushed my teeth with bottled water a few times. Of course, that lesson followed a couple of my own episodes of Montezuma’s revenge.

    1. In Argentina, near Iguazu, I was staying at a hostel and might have been careless with the water, and I was uncomfortable off and on for a week. I guess that’s why I am so careful now. I’m glad you have a sturdy stomach!

  17. sue says:

    Poor Thom. he is definitely NOT a BRAT– so sorry you both had to endure that on your anniv trip no less! Hoping there were some really fabulous moments to balance that out. 🙂

    1. Hi Sue,

      Thom was such a good sport! It wasn’t a big deal. We didn’t get our last snorkel adventure, but we had a lovely relaxing day on the beach in front of our hotel, where we could watch pelicans feeding and go swimming.

  18. Poor Thom, looks as if he’s a survivor of a shipwreck in one of those pictures. I’d pack the probiotics for him another time and perhaps put him on a course of them for a month before lift off!

    1. Dear Sarah,
      He wasn’t at his best for a couple of days, but made a good recovery. As soon as he was able, he had yogurt to get all those good little bugs working for him. I do think we could be better prepared next time. Thanks for visiting!

  19. Carol says:

    In half a dozen trips to Mexico, I’ve only met Montezuma once – and that time I was nearly home before he visited. Lucky for me – sad for Thom, but happy you both were able to salvage most of your break.

    1. Dear Carol,
      It was a just the tiniest little bump in the road, and not really a problem at all. I’m glad your experience with Montezuma was so well timed. Thanks for visiting.

  20. Lisaman says:

    Your mom is so right.. I love going back even though I’m torn about visiting something new!!

    1. I feel the same way. There are so many places–whole regions–on my to-go list, that I generally look ahead to the next place. I want to explore Eastern Europe and Asia next.

  21. Sounds like you did the best you could 🙂 Nice photos too.

    1. I have no complaints–we did pretty well, and it could have been so much worse. Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the kind words!

  22. Paula says:

    Thank God he was not travelling alone 🙂 “Smooth sailing is a bonus, not the rule” – I should remember that.Thank you, Naomi.

    1. I loved being Florence Nightingale for a couple of days! We always have good things to read and was maybe even good for us to slow down for a little while.

  23. Makes for yucky experience but a great story – and you play it to the max. I laughed and winced and remembered other experiences.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cathryn, and taking the time to comment.

  24. Elyse says:

    As queen of GI mishaps, I feel your husband’s pain. Poop stinks, especially when you’re on vacation.

    1. Dear Elyse,
      There is no comparison. It was such a small part of the experience–I probably shouldn’t even have mentioned it. You are a shining example of a real trooper.

      1. Elyse says:

        Poop is always funny!

  25. niasunset says:

    You are amazing lady dear Naomi, I enjoyed with your writing up and photographs… Thank you, have a nice day, love, nia

    1. Dear Nia,
      Thank you for your visit, and your very kind words. I have been really enjoying your kitty videos! You have such a good eye, and I appreciate your sense of humor.

  26. I want to go to there!

    1. I hope you do, and then I want to hear all about it!

  27. My Tropical Home says:

    Another wow post Naomi (I’m working backwards here). So sorry to hear about your hubby getting tummy illness. You did good with taking precautions yourself (love that bit about the ice). We only do the BR part of that special diet when someone gets icky in the tummy (usually me) when we travel or eat at untested locations 😉 I love the bird and people watching shots. My favorite past times when enjoying my surroundings. Enjoy your week!

    1. Birdwatching and people watching, YES! Thanks for stopping by, Mary. It’s always good to hear from you.

  28. adinparadise says:

    At least Thom got to see Chichen Itza before he succumbed. I remember our son got sick in Egypt. It was probably the lettuce which may have been washed in tap water. I remember using bottled water to clean my teeth too. 🙂 I’ve never heard of the apple sauce remedy. Ingenius, Naomi. Glad Thom felt better after that.

    1. The timing here could hardly have been better. We were fortunate, and it wasn’t a very bad case. I’m sure it was hard to have your son so far away, not knowing how sick he was, or how worried you should be. When Thom was a young man, studying abroad in India, he ate food from a vendor and got very sick for days, with a fever. The person he was traveling with abandoned him. It is probably just as well that his mother didn’t know, but as a mom, I worry more about the stuff I DON’T know about than the stuff I hear about!

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words.

      1. adinparadise says:

        Luckily we were with our son at the time. It was on the Nile River cruise. The doctor was called, and gave him some pills which worked wonders. 🙂

  29. 4amWriter says:

    Your mom has some great advice!

    1. Thank you. She was an amazing person! Thanks so much for the visit.

  30. Jamie Dedes says:

    What a good sport for hubby to let you take a photo when he is busy recouperating.

    Wonderful photos as always and I agree: People watching is the most fun.

    1. Dear Jamie,
      Thom is a very good sport! Your keen eye for people watching is what is makes you such an excellent poet. Thank you for your visit.

  31. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Sorry Thom got sick, but wow were you creative in a crisis with the homemade applesauce. Sometimes a slow day is great, let’s you stop and notice the people around you. 🙂

    1. HI Kourtney,
      Looking back, I realize a slow day was exactly what we needed. Sometimes, if you haven’t the sense to slow down, life has a way of intervening on your behalf. Thanks for stopping by.

  32. Madhu says:

    Sounds like you foiled Montezuma’s plans and had a wonderful day after all 🙂 How long was the trip Naomi?

    1. Hi Madhu,
      We had a week there. Fortunately we did the most demanding things before Thom had any problems, and by that time, we were content to rest, relax, and recover the last couple of days. But now we definitely have to go back!

  33. Sounds like a spring break that you both will remember. Thanks to your BRAT idea Thom didn’t lose too much time being sick, It’s a miserable feeling. At least it didn’t hit you both. 🙂

    1. Hi Lynne,
      I was lucky, and really careful. I didn’t think of the BRAT diet, but it sure is good to know about. Thanks for the visit, and for taking the time to comment. I have been enjoying your blog!

  34. Arlene says:

    Naomi, your photos and story telling are fabulous. Glad Thom is well again. Sounds like you had an overall great trip. I look forward to catching up on your blog. Thanks for stopping by mine!

  35. Jo Danehy says:

    Brings back memories of when I was trekking in Nepal. I got deathly ill (or at least I felt that way) for a couple days and just curled up in a fetal position most of the time. They had no “official” bathrooms so I had to find a private place to relieve myself. God that was an awful couple of days. Good thing no one was taking photo’s of me. Thanks for sharing…thank you to Tom too

    1. You poor thing! I’m so glad you got over it. I don’t think Thom ever got it that bad, although he isn’t quite one hundred percent over it yet.

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