Ice Cubes


It is my understanding that there is a law in Mexico which stipulates that all ice served in restaurants and hotels must be made with clean water.  Despite this law, I have received numerous warnings to avoid ice at all costs.  This is relatively easy to do as most restaurants simply serve drinks by the can or bottle.

One night, during my first trip to Pachuca, Sal and I returned to our hotel room rather late after exploring the city.  We should have taken the time to go to one of the restaurants we loved that were within walking distance, but we were both feeling very lazy.  I was so lazy that I did not bother to even leave the hotel.  Sal, however, was willing to walk to the only restaurant that did not require him to cross the street: Burger King.

He returned after a few minutes with two burgers and two large sodas.  It was the first time I had actually encountered fountain drinks in Mexico.  I was thrilled to have so much soda to drink for so little money.  The burgers, however, were cooked until they were burnt, and not so fabulous.

After we ate, we spent some time watching TV and then we went to bed.  About an hour later, I woke up sick as a dog.

I was laying in the bathroom, completely miserable, when Salvador finally woke up and found me.  He sat there with me as I told him how horrible I felt, to which he responded, “It must be the ice.”

“What ice?” I asked, completely confused.  There had been no ice in my drink.

“I put just a little,” he told me.  “You like the cold drinks, so I put a few pieces in the cup.  I know you say no, but you like the cold drinks.”

I was still sick when I left Pachuca about four days later.  I honestly do not know if it was the ice or not, but I do know that Sal will never put ice in my drink again.


12 responses »

  1. I just found your blog and am really enjoying it. I moved to Mexico almost 6 years ago (Sonora) so I am feeling your anxiety, doubts, questions, etc. Before I moved here definitely I spent a year studying in Queretaro. I drank the water out of the tap, ate food from every street cart there was, and ate fruit with the peel on. I was the only person in our group to never get sick. However, after in the five plus years that I have been here I have gotten sick many times 😦 Once I even got giardia and that is a horrible thing to get. So now I am MUCH more careful (not overkill). I advise using Vermox plus (found at any farmacia) twice a year to deparasite yourself, I thought that was so weird at first but if it prevents you from getting really sick than it is worth it.

    • In the last couple of days, I have really entered the anxiety phase. Not that I do not want to go, because I very much do. But I am finding every unknown possible to worry over. Right now it is the money I need to start out and make it my first month there. And the past two nights I have had dreams where I have moved to Mexico, given up my entire US life, and then my husband suddenly dies, leaving me with nothing. It is crazy, especially considering I have stayed so positive for so long.

      It is funny what you say about breaking all the rules and not getting sick, because people think I am crazy with all that I do. I constantly eat street food, I eat fruits without disinfecting (depending on the type), I have eaten from the very unsanitary kitchen of my husband’s farm, and while I do not drink from the tap, I do use it to brush my teeth–supposedly a very big no no. I’ll never know if it was the ice or not though.

      The whole illness thing, when I interviewed with my school they told me it is not a case of if I get sick, it is a case of when. I appreciate their honesty, but I must say it worries me; from my understanding, they give less than a week of sick days , each year.

      Thanks for the Vermox Plus tip. I read about it once on another blog but forgot it with all else in my head. I need to put that in a file to remember.

      So what do you do in Mexico? I will be teaching English at an American school. I am hopeful I can stay a long time; if it is feasible, I am okay with living there the rest of my life.

  2. That is odd! I have never heard of that. As you mentioned, usually the “restaurants”, which are mom and pop joints, just give you a canned or bottled drink. But, I have had drinks with ice several times and haven’t had a problem. We go to the fast food places and other restuarants that you would find in the States and I haven’t ever had a problem. Or, going to the movies, they serve soda drinks. No problems ever.

    I also use tap water to make iced tea and koolaid. Never a problem with that either.

    But, it could also be a regional thing. I have learned in my short time here that what happens in Jalos might only be a problem here. And the same for other cities/states. So, it might not be safe to generalize about things. Also, I think Mexicans tend to be jumpy about everything. But, that is just my experience.

    Once you get here, you can start researching things yourself. And, see what your body is OK with. For me, I have rarely had a problem with anything. The occassional upset stomach, but that is to be expected anywhere.

    • I really have no idea. I honestly tend not to believe the hype on all this stuff, but even the school warns against tap water, so it is the one thing I am semi cautious with. I do think it varies a lot from area to area. At my husbands farm, they drink from their pumps all the time, but he won’t do it in the cities.

  3. I remember the anxiety so vividly. I agonized over what to bring with me so I ended up with the craziest stuff. Cleaning supplies, martha stewart magazines, cups, trust me there are way more important things to bring. Be sure and take things that you love (pictures, mementos, etc.) I didn’t really have to leave anything behind because my Dad drove us down with a trailer but since you are going in a plane you will have to make some tough decisions. If there is something that you find would be way cheaper in the US but takes up too much room in your luggage then let me know. I go to Ca about 3 times a year and I could pick up what you need and send it to you via the bus or another paqueteria. I would not trust the post office here. When I was in Queretaro I never had any trouble getting mail (even from the US) but here it is impossible. But I hear the bus and paqueteria systems are much more reliable.
    I did teach English for a year but decided that since I had no desire or training to be an English teacher that one year was quite enough. Turns out mother superior at the school I taught in just so happened to hear that there was an american living here and thought that would be a great selling point for their English program. It did not matter to her one bit that I did not have any training. So now I am a full time mommy (2 boys 4 and 7 months). But as soon as my husband gets his practice settled I hope to start some kind of business. I am just not quite sure what yet.
    Ask me anything and everything. I had so many questions when I was getting ready to move but I did not have anyone to ask.
    ps yay about the 200th comment!!!

    • My main thing I am bringing is clothing–I am a bigger woman and when I was scouting in December, I found nothing that would fit me except for some unfathomably ugly clothing at Sears. The next biggest thing is books and materials for teaching. I am making it a point to not bring anything that I can easily obtain there without paying an unreasonable amount.

      Where are you in Mexico? I really appreciate the offer and I may very well take you up on it. My main concerns are kitchen tools, since I have been told certain things can cost a lot more (such as a stand mixer). I definitely want to give myself the time to see if I can manage without things though. I won’t be living like a queen, so conserving money where possible is a big goal.

      I am currently working on a document with advice about moving to Mexico, so if there is anything you think is vital to include, let me know. I plan to add it as a work in progress right before I leave and then update it to include anything crazy that surprises me.

      • Oh yes clothes, definitely. Not just because of the size issue (which I struggle with too) but the quality is very poor here and super expensive. I have bought one or two t shirts at Soriana (grocery store) but apart from that not much else. And yes of course teaching materials will be so helpful. I don’t know what your situation is about reading for pleasure (like if you have a kindle or are still reading ‘old fashioned’ books 😉 I am still using books and that is what my parents always gift me because there is NOTHING here. I think it is pretty cheap to send stuff nationally here. I know my husband sends big packets of documents all over Sonora for about 3 bucks. But I will look in to it more. I am in Navojoa Sonora. And you are going to be in Pachuca Hidalgo?
        Your advice document is a great idea and I would love to contribute to it but as I mentioned I did this almost six years ago now and I have forgotten ALOT. But since you are currently living it you have everything fresh. However, right now I am an expert on having babies in Mexico but that too will fade from memory if I don’t write it down 😉

        • I usually shop at Wal-Mart and Target. I hope the clothing isn’t much worse than theirs–if I lose weight (which I imagine I will just due to saving money on food) I need to be able to replace at least some of my work clothes. If it is, I guess I just have someone take in my clothes.

          I have a Kindle. I actually got it because it has the free internet access, and I can email my parents from my house before the internet is installed. The actual reading aspect was just a plus for me, lol!

          Yes, Pachuca, Hidalgo. I plan to make it permanent, but there is always the chance it will not work out. My second choice is Puebla, if things in Pachuca do not go as hoped; however, I imagine that once I get past the shock and depression stages of relocating, everything will be okay.

          And I would gladly put the baby/child advice in the document if you feel it would work there. It is something I have no knowledge of.

  4. All of my clothes come from oldnavy and target and yes the quality at those stores is much better than what I find here (and cheaper). However, I am in a different region than you will be, who knows in Pachuca they may have a better selection. And about losing weight I am sure that you will. I went down 2 sizes in Queretaro because I walked EVERYWHERE. The climate here makes that impossible but Pachuca is much milder from what I hear.
    You may not go through a depression stage especially if you are going to be busy working. You have the benefit of having a very understanding husband from what I gather which is always helpful. I do still have days where I hate Mexico and get so frustrated with the differences of living here but they are few and far between. I remember one day I was at the super market and I was waiting at the tortilla counter and person after person pushed ahead of me and finally I had had enough and I left my cart (full of course) and walked out. I was fuming. Now I look back on that incident and laugh. And now I find that I am much more relaxed than I was when I first moved here. I guess you kind of have to be.

    • I am planning to come home at Christmas if I lose enough weight so that I can shop the sales. Hopefully I will be able to find things that are not so wintery–Pachuca can get cold at night, but it is generally perfect Spring temps during the day. I am already on a diet here because my doctor is concerned about my long-term heart health. Combine that with eating less to save money and walking to work every day, I think I will be needed new clothes.

      My husband is incredibly understanding, and he has also been through everything I will be going through (except he no doubt had it worse) so he has perspective on my situation. I just took a secondary job writing articles for a company and he keeps telling me, “Don’t worry, you can work as much as you want. I will cook and clean for you.” Not that I would take him up on that, considering how hard he works in construction every day.

      Ahhhh! The cutting in line thing. I have no idea how to handle that–I would be tempted to go and butt in front of them. There are so many little things I have to gain perspective on. The biggest battle will be needing space from friends and family.

      Thank you for all your comments! I really appreciate you taking the time to give me advice/share your experiences. It helps me feel more assured.

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