This is a cautionary tale of why you shouldn’t eat coconuts in Panama.
It started when we’d decided to take a boat trip around a number of islands for a day and our boat driver had dropped us off at red frog beach.
As I recall we had to walk along a jungle path in order to reach the beach and on the way two young kids jumped out in front of us with two large leaves in their hands. They were signalling for us to go and take a look, intrigued, we did and inside the leaves were these very tiny red frogs with black spots on their backs. After snapping a few photos (and giving the kids a couple of dollars) we carried on our way.
The beach was beautiful, as were all the beaches we had seen in Panama. We spent most of that afternoon lazing around on the beach and working on our tan, and as we were making our way back to the boat we walked past a palm tree strewn with coconuts.
After spending about 10 minutes trying to knock a coconut off the tree, one finally fell to the ground and a helpful local stood nearby offered to open it with his knife.
I took the first snip of the coconut milk then passed it to the couple who were sharing our boat ride home and thought nothing else of it.
That night I was crippled with stomach ache, hanging my head over the toilet. This continued for three days. It got to the stage that I couldn’t even keep water down. I remember trying to eat some toast for breakfast on the third day of feeling sick and just having to run as fast as I could back to the room. My stomach couldn’t even cope with plain toast. There was something seriously wrong.
On the forth day, I decided enough was enough and I needed to go to the hospital – I was feeling so weak after spending 4 days not eating.
Whilst we were waiting for our boat back to the mainland – I was sick. I couldn’t even contain myself in the waiting room and found myself running to the toilet to be sick. By the time I saw a doctor I looked so drained. She simply asked me what I had been eating. As I reeled off all the things I could remember having, her face dropped as I told my story about drinking the coconut milk. Apparently a bug was in the coconut which is what made me sick.
I was led to a hospital ward and lay on a bed with a drip for the rest of the day. Within the first hour of being on the ward, the lady next to me had asked to be moved because I was projectile vomiting – thinking back it really makes me chuckle now, the look on the lady’s face next to me – who’d wanna be next to me!? So for the rest of the day I spent lay on a bed in a hospital corridor waiting for the drip to take effect.
After about 4 hours watching my body absorb the fluid I started to feel alot better, I was just so dehydrated and the drip was helping my body to recover.
I was discharged from hospital that evening, along with some antibiotics. It took me a good few days to feel myself again as I must have lost a lot of fluid and weight. This is a cautionary tale that you shouldn’t leave it too long before you go to hospital – leave it too long and you could really be in trouble.
Who’d have thought you could get ill from a coconut??