I recently found myself enjoying a great, early season surf trip in Simelue in remote Indonesia. We had quite good waves, a great group of blokes and things were going well. The introductory briefing was pretty short, but adequate for well travelled surfers. We were enjoying Simelue immensely, exploring by bus or motorbike and surfing a variety of new waves. Things were going well.
On about the third day, one of the crew got crook in the guts. We were all wondering if it was in the food at lunch, wondering who ate what, trying to find a culprit dish and wondering if we’d all be sick by sundown. It was James’ first surf trip and I finally thought to ask him whether he was using the tap water to brush his teeth. He replied yes.
Aha! we thought - found the source of the problem. As we discussed our brilliant sleuthing abilities, one of the group disclosed that he was brushing his teeth with the tap water too, as he had done on numerous Bali trips over the years. But then he got sick the next day, so we felt pretty sure that we had identified the source.
It got me to thinking about the fact that brushing our teeth with our bottled water was so second nature to most of us, that we forgot to even mention it to a newcomer. The welcome briefing mentioned drinking from the water dispenser in the dining area but not that brushing your teeth, or even opening your mouth in the shower, could make you sick.
Which in turn got me thinking about other rookie travel errors that we might be able to save people from making.