Vomit, Diarrhea, and Sex Hotels

I was pulled out of a deep sleep at 4am when I heard Stevie scream.

My first thought was “Oh shit, someone is breaking into the van.”

I flipped on the light just in time to see Stevie vomit her fish dinner into Kiki’s food bowl.

My second thought was “Oh shit, Stevie’s pregnant.”

SIDE NOTE – In anticipation of getting pregnant I’ve been reading What To Expect When You’re Expecting and I know all about morning sickness. 

A split second later she threw open the van door and ran out to the beach. Through the darkness I could see her in the squatting position.

My third thought was “Oh shit, we ate the same thing for dinner. That’s not good.”

It was food poisoning and it was immediately apparent to me that we were both doomed. Food poisoning is something you learn to live with when you travel off the beaten path. Since we’re always off the beaten path we’re getting very used to it…

Food Poisoning in Cartagena, Colombia – remember here
Food Poisoning at Angel Falls, Venezuela – remember here

But this situation was dire. We were sleeping in the van on a remote beach in Ecuador. There were no hotels. There were no bathrooms. The sun would be up soon, meaning that exploding on the beach would be out. I knew once the symptoms hit me we’d be f#cked. The clock was ticking.

Based on difference in body weight, amount of food consumed, and general constitution I gave myself 17 minutes before I exploded out of both ends like Stevie. We were on the edge of a small, unfamiliar town which I didn’t particularly trust. Kiki’s food bowl was already full of puke. To say this was a crisis would be an understatement.

And then it hit me. I vaguely remembered seeing a seedy looking Auto Hotel on the outskirts of the small town.

An Auto Hotel is a Latin American phenomenon.

These secret sex rooms are for cheating spouses or young lovers still living with their parents. Apparently there is plenty of clientele because these sex hotels are in every country south of Mexico and they are EVERYWHERE .

There is no registration, no windows, and no front door. You pull up to a garage door, it opens, you’re connected to your hotel room and you pay your bill through a little revolving window in your room. Nobody sees you, it’s all discreet. This would be the perfect place to lay low, shit, and puke.

I had to save the family and clearly there was only one choice. I had to get us to the Auto Hotel.

The Sprinter wouldn’t fit in the garage so we parked out front and went on foot into the room. The garage door closed behind us. The phone rang and a woman in an all too sexy spanish voice announced that the room would be $3.30 per hour. Then she asked if we’d like to rent sheets and a blanket, which were conveniently sold a-la-carte.

We passed on the up-sell and instead took turns on the toilet, suffering though round after round of hell. South America gave us a proper welcomed home. But we made it through and we’re rolling again. You can’t hold us down dawg, hell no, you can’t hold us back!

Plus Sprinter Life has a new CLAIM TO FAME. We can now definitively say that

We are the only couple in Latin America who DIDN’T have sex while at the Auto Hotel.

So we got that going for us… which is nice.



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  1. Laughin so hard, in empathy, I assure you! Glad you’re south of the border again, even if your stomachs are not! Hope to see you soon…ish!

    • Thanks Lorraine! I’m looking forward to seeing you too! Only a couple more countries to go! I have to ask you, are our stomachs ever going to get ‘tougher’? Everyone warned us about Mexico and Central America, but shockingly we never had anything serious there. South America on the other hand has delivered 3 bouts of food poisoning, one in each of the countries we have traveled so far. Ouch!

  2. Have ya looked into ameba pills?Go to pharmacy, ask about I think its called Ambea, not sure, but it protects from The ameba, often found in Meat,milk,produce in central amecrica. You take it for a week, and you should be good for about a month. Stock up!

    • Yo brotha,
      Stevie is all into taking these preventative meds, but I’m going native. I figure in another year or 10 I will be one of the locals with a stomach of steel! Wish me luck.

  3. I’ve lived in Mexico for 6 years and when traveling routinely look for Auto Hotels ( no-tell motels). Usually they are very clean, quiet and cheap. So sorry you ending up there for all the wrong reasons.

    Keep on keepin” on–Paty

    • The one we stayed in was actually really clean and nice too. We were too sick to remember to take pictures though so we pulled this seedy looking one of the web. All in all, it was a good experience. Could have better without the barfing. Maybe next time we can go back and give it a real whirl. What part of Mexico are you in? We LOVE Mexico!

      • I moved from Portland OR and now live 40 miles south of Guadalajara at Lake Chapala. I’ve been following your exploits for quite a while now and admire your willingness to explore the unknown and do it in a foreign language. So glad you liked Mexico and found it is nothing like portrayed by the media and the State Dept.

        Fish is usually pretty safe to eat since you can usually smell if it is bad. Unless you have the sneaky kind of diarrhea, I wouldn’t take anything to stop it cause your body knows it needs to get rid of the offending stuff. Or if you are getting dehydrated from fluid loss you need to take over-the-counter anti-diarrheal like Loperamide Hydrochoride. Forget the amoeba medicine until you actually get amoebas.

        • The fish was in a cazuela, a fish stew, so it didn’t smell bad, or at least the scent was masked by the sauce. The good news is that we are all better now. Unlike the Angel Falls episode, this one was over within 24 hours. We spent Christmas last year at Lake Chapala. What a great area! Were you there then? Did we meet you? Please refresh my memory if so. If not, do you know Ken and Chris? They winter there every year. We’ve learned that the media and the State Dept. generally cannot be trusted to accurately describe a country. To be honest, we stopped checking the reports after El Salvador. They only freaked us out unnecessarily. Thank you for following our journey and leaving us a comment. We love hearing from people. It enriches this whole blogging experience so much.

  4. gnarly bro.

  5. Wow, are those specimins from the matress? I laughed so hard at this post. Thanks. I’m happy to hear that you’re both better. I feel your pain.

    Glenn acually stayed in an auto hotel in Rio and couldn’t figure out why the door locked behind him. He had to pry his way out just to go get dinner. Funny.

  6. No fair posting strange pics of parasites without then identifying them!!

  7. Wow, hope you are ok! …great book in retro spect:What To Expect When You’re Expecting

  8. Never would have happened if I’d been cooking for you. I hope that Kiki did not eat puke.

    • so true, I never got sick on your watch dragon. And I assure you Kiki did not eat puke. She was quote disgusted with both Mommy and Daddy.

  9. Cheating Spouses, Young Lovers and Creepy Crawlers all on the same page.

  10. Glad to hear you guys are feeling better. Very funny read though.

  11. Andrea Greever says:

    Omg you poor things but I can not stop laughing!!! I hope you guys feel better, food poisoning sucks.

  12. We made the mistake of turning on the tv in one of those hotels. They don’t exactly show telenovelas on the three stations that come in. Yikes. Glad you two are feeling better!

    • Orale!! That’s too funny! Did you get a sexy woman voice calling you on the phone too? I think she was my favorite part. Ohhhhhla, porrrrrrr cuantos horasssss quiere quedarse?

  13. You know the book “How to Shit in the Woods” you guys should write “How to Shit Abroad”.

    Tree remember that time you were surfing (wearing a fullsuit) and you thought you only had to toot??? I do, it was really funny.

    • Hey Simko, I sure do remember that time. Boy did I miscalculate that messy mistake. Anyway, thanks again for personally cleaning out my wetsuit when we got home. You did a great job. That’s how I knew you really were my bet friend. xoxox – TREE

  14. Perhaps you two could start growing vegetables on your roof-top, get a fishing rod, maybe let a goat or a pig trot along behind the Sprinter, and GIVE UP eating at “gnarly restaurants” off the beaten path! Whatdýathink? Home grown, organic food!

    • I’m all for it. Mobile permaculture (is that an oxymoron? I’m not sure). We could have a glass encased rocket box to grow our hot house veggies. One things for sure, I definitely won’t be eating fish for a while. And I will never eat another cazuela. Yuck!

  15. Tatiana Katarina says:

    oh NO!! bahaha. lo siiieeento!

  16. Yikes!! Well at least the pukes got done in a day. I must say tho I love the pictures of the sex motels. The message is pretty blatant of secrecy. Hey I’m sorry you had to throw up there. I’m envisioning a not so pretty site..

    • Hey Joanna, it’s so good to hear from you! Thanks for your comment. I obviously didn’t like the being sick part, but I thought the Auto Hotel was kind of fun in a silly way. I wish we would have taken pictures of the inside! I guess we’ll just have to go back someday 🙂

  17. Hey guys-
    We are still in full prep mode for our trip and we know we can always count on Sprinter Life to lead the way in valuable info in the shit and vomit department. (I only say this half jokingly… I can claim fortitude in many places in my life, but my stomach…no.)
    My wife and I are about 2-3 months away from hitting the road. Just gotta sell our condo and move into the ’95 4runner w/roof top tent. Can’t tell you how excited we are.
    Thanks again for all the great info. Chances are I will be sending a barrage of questions your way as we get closer to our take off date.

    • Hey Cesar,
      feel free to fire away on the questions! we’re happy to share what we know. I can’t promise you anything except one thing, plan to get sick. 🙂
      cheers – tree

  18. Leo and Eloise says:

    Hey Guys,

    Thank you for clarifying, “Sex Motels”. I first encountered this Phenom in Puerto Rico. I did not realize what these were, at the time, but there you pay for the whole night. I thought, what a terrific Motel! You pay for 1/2 a regular motel, and since you usually on rent a room to just sleep anyway, wow, what a great deal indeed. There, the sheets and blankets were included.

    We lived in a Motorhome for over 20 years mostly in Baja, so your story is great to keep up with. Thank you for sharing it.

    IF you get up this way, Yucca Valley, CA, we would love to have some time with you.

    Leo and Eloise

  19. Yikes you poor things!!! there’s not too much worse than a bad bout of food poisoning; it makes you feel like you want to die. At least you were still thinking straight and headed right for this Auto Hotel!!

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