A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 26, 2006
Montezuma’s Revenge & Aztec Two-Step & Turista (traveler’s diarrhea)

"Montezuma’s Revenge” and “Aztec two-step” and “turista” are the colorful names for traveler’s diarrhea for visitors to Mexico. The terms have spread somewhat and are sometimes applied to any diarrhea resulting from the Mexican or Tex-Mex cusines.


Wikipedia: Montezuma’s Revenge
Montezuma’s Revenge (var. Moctezuma’s Revenge) refers to the conquering of the Aztecs by European invaders led by Hernán Cortés (1485-1548). Moctezuma II (1466-1520), the emperor of Aztecs at the time, was killed by his own people, in revolt against the Spanish invaders, so that anything bad that happens in Mexico to descendants from the invaders, or any non-Mexican, for that matter, could be interpreted as a posthumous “revenge” of the emperor against his enemies.

Originally, it is a colloquial American English name for traveler’s diarrhea caused by a bacterium strain present in food and water, to which Mexicans are normally immune, but that causes disease in foreigners.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
Montezuma’s revenge (occas. also Montezuma revenge) slang, diarrhoea suffered by travellers, esp. in Mexico.
1960 Washington Post 24 Jan. (Amer. Weekly Mag.) 8/1 You ask, ‘Wasn’t there anything you didn’t like?’ and they admit that, like most Americans, they suffered a three-day gastric upset described by a variety of names, names like the Gringo Gallop and Montezuma’s Revenge.

Aztec Two-Step
by Stuart Sherman
New York: Greenberg Publishers
1953
Pg. 11: 
While it is true that the word “Touristas” is Mexican slang for tourists, the word as used here has a much more ominous meaning. It describes an amoebic “bug” you can get in tropical climates or, in fact, anywhere else. To set the record straight, the “Touristas” is atom-powered, supersonic diarrhea and nothing more. We had a spell at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1934 and, reputedly, Texas Guinan died of it and, no matter how you describe it, it’s a Hell of a thing! The Mexicans have another name that is even better; at least, it’s less serious. They call it ‘The Aztec Two-Step.” If you are one of the uninformed, let me explain that the Aztecs were one of a number of Indian tribes that lived in Mexico, that were noted for the dizzy pace at which they moved. It is said, without fear of contradiction, that an Aztec brave (Pg. 12—ed.) could run the hundred yard dash in the world shattering time of nine seconds, while going sideways in a two-step at the same speed he was going forward.  As the name applies to the “Touristas” it is descriptive of the speed at which you negotiate the distance between your bed and the “john.”

May 1953, Travel magazine, pg. 15, cols. 1-2: 
Old expatriots, however, told me that they have seen Electropura bottles filled from ordinary taps. Thus, the average tourist falls victim to the “tourismo"_sometime during his stay
the “Toursimo” being caused by a mild amoeba of moot classification but distressing dysenteric effect.

July 1953, Travel magazine, pg. 41, col. 1: 
Climate, sanitation methods and food preparation in “manana-land” necessitate alterations in the American’s ordinary customs. If such precautions aren’t taken, the unwary eater and drinker may easily fall victim to a common ailment known to menu-wise Mexicans as Turismo.

14 August 1957, Daily Review (Heyward, CA), pg. 15:
When you travel in Mexico beware of “Montezuma’s Revenge.” Other countries have equally colorful names for a common disorder—gastro-intestinal upsets.

16 January 1958, Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, pg. 4:
The tourist’s stomach is sometimes known as “Montezuma’s Revenge.”

18 February 1959, Lawton (OK) Constitution, pg. 10:
In Mexico it is sometimes called the Aztec curse, Montezuma’s Revenge, the tourist disease, and there and elsewhere it has many other colorful names.

9 August 1959, Long Beach (CA) Independent-Press-Telegram, pg. A15:
TRAVELERS TO ITALY, Turkey, Egypt, India and Mexico frequently suffer from a disease identified as Delhi Belly, Turkey Trot, Gippy Tummy, Montezuma’s Revenge. Scientific name for the ailment: acute diahrrea.

The problem is especially bothersome in Mexico, where more than 500,000 American tourists visit annually. Mexican doctors call the disease “turista.” Most likely to be affected: the person in his early 20s.

26 August 1959, Daily Courier (Connellsville, PA), pg. 12:
The frequency of diarrhea among visitors has prompted the natives to call it turista.

29 August 1959, Winnipeg Free Press, pg. 51:
In India, it is “Delhi belly;” in the Middle East, “Turkey trot;” in Mexico, “Montezuma’s Revenge.” All describe the acute diarrhea that afflicts tourists.

19 November 1959, Odessa (TX) American, pg. 3:
Turista was most prevalent in the student age group and 95 percent of those who developed diarrhea came down with the condition within 14 days after arrival.

24 January 1960, Washington Post, “Down Mexico Way” by John Sturdevant, pg. AW8:
You ask, ‘Wasn’t there anything you didn’t like?’ and they admit that, like most Americans, they suffered a three-day gastric upset described by a variety of names, names like the Gringo Gallop and Montezuma’s Revenge.

10 April 1960, Washington Post, “Travelers’ Illnesses” by Dr. Theodore R. Van Dellen, pg. L6:
The disorder occurs often in Mexico and has been nicknamed Montzuma’s revenge, turista, and ‘the trots.’ In Italy, Turkey, Egypt and India it is named Turkey trot, gippy tummy, and Delhi belly.

4 March 1962, Chicago Daily Tribune, “From a Travel-Log” by Kermit Holt, pg. F7:
Eating strange food often brings on the difficulty often called “turista” or “Montezuma’s revenge.”

American Dialect Society list
Date:  Fri, 19 Nov 1999 15:53:29 -0800
Sender:  American Dialect Society Mailing List
From:  “A. Vine”

In another email Barry listed “turismo” for the intestinal problem foreigners get when in Mexico.  In Texas, we always knew it as “turistas” (not sure of the spelling).

Andrea

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, December 26, 2006 • Permalink