First Dumb Move of 2010

Ozone o Ozone… wherefore art thou Chilean Ozone Layer?!
Fun in the summer sun ain’t all it’s cracked up to be… as I “sorely” discover yet once again!

2010 kicked off calmly enough, family-style with the in-laws at our house: dinner, hugs all around at midnight, a bit of the Valparaíso fireworks on TV, and off they went. We usually visit friends afterward, but this year, after all the traveling we’ve done in the past few weeks (more about that to come), we decided to just kick back, stay in, and head to the beach the next morning.

Just let me say that for all that I miss a traditional white Christmas, I have to admit that I really do love a nice southern hemisphere summer-time New Years!

So off we went at midday on a beautiful January 1, tooling down the highway, windows open, breeze blowing, sun shining… and completely oblivious to those mean-spirited UV nasties beating down on my unsuspecting, unprotected, wintry-white arm. Shortly after arriving at the beach, my tingling arm warned me that I was going to regret my hour-long carefree, bare-armed jaunt. Any doubts were cast aside 12 hours later when my arm turned that shade of red that is highly desirable in ripe watermelons—but not so much on body parts. I’m no wimp when it comes to sunburns (too much experience), but this really zapped my zip and made me want to kick my own backside for being so dumb.

I should know better. I DO know better. The sun is not my friend. I learned that the hard way many years ago as a freckle-faced, red-headed, fair-skinned young teen trying to keep up the tanning pace with my Italian-Native American beach buddy. While she effortlessly toasted up an ever-deepening golden tan, I just got frecklier and redder, redder, redder. Even developed some kind of allergy to the sun that turned me into a great believer in long-sleeved shirts and generous applications of the strongest sunscreen available.

Oh, I’ve had my involuntary lapses over the years, most notably in Chile, where the sun is particularly sneaky and entirely unforgiving. Cool Pacific breezes trick you into forgetting the sun is summer-hot and UV-loaded. Midday strolls through springtime vineyards can turn short-haired gringa winewriters into literal rednecks in no time (experience speaking).

I remember a Miami-born-&-bred Cuban-American friend who refused to join the filtro-fest as the rest of us repeatedly slathered on the sunscreen at the beach one February (peak summer), because “I’ve spent my whole life in the sun”—even though the local morenos (dark skinned folks) in the group tried to warn him. And man did he repent and lament for the rest of the weekend!

Blame it on the anemic ozone layer; blame it on the proximity of the sun at this particular latitude; blame it on whatever you like, but do, and I mean DO, take the Chilean sun seriously.

So now that  school’s out, surf’s up, sun’s out… Stock up on sun screen and:
Happy Summer Chile!

10 responses to “First Dumb Move of 2010

  1. Happy New Year Peg! I like the summery New Year’s too, I have missed that… but next year!

    I was never much of a sunbather, I just didn’t grow up wearing sunscreen… and I sure learned my lesson, the very very hard way. Put some aloe on that burn and I hope it feels better.

  2. Happy New Year to you too Annje!
    Still mopping away with heavy duty lotion and dreading the forthcoming peeling-itching stage! Glad it’s just my arm this time!
    Got an ETA on your move back to Chile?

  3. I too miss the traditional white Christmas of back home. It´s been three years since I´ve had one of those! Hey, at least I´m going back with a tan!

  4. Hi Lucie- I had a white Christmas this year for the first time since 1994! And it was one of the best ever!

  5. I got a nasty ankle burn the week before I left Chile. How did I burn my ankles you might be wondering. Well, I feel asleep on the beach completely protected from the sun’s rays expect for that little bit that my leggings left exposed. Yes, I wore leggings on a beach in the summer. Anyways, they hurt so bad for the next week and are still red and scaly looking. It’s gross.

    I agree with you about the white Christmas and then fun New Year’s. Next year… next year.

  6. Sara- Ouch! So now you’re going to have little pink then tan “anklets”!
    Chilean sun is absolutely to be taken seriously–if not for health and well-being, then at least for aesthetic reasons!

  7. ah, yes. My husband is Irish and freckly and always burns no matter what, no matter where. Here is CNY we had a sparkly glistening white evening at maybe 20-degrees. No beaches, no sun-screen. A quiet walk with a little white dog in a blue coat, on quiet streets – tho the neighbors did build their own ice hockey rink. Goodnight Peg from long ago.

  8. Hi Diane! Such a long time! I enjoy following your days and times with the girls! Remember when Amber was that age?
    I hear the snow is really something in Syracuse right now! I do miss it, but am glad I don’t have to scrape the ice and brush the snow off the car every morning!
    Have the girls make some snow angels for me!

  9. Dos horas sin bloqueador y sin sombrilla en Reñaca bastan para terminar rojo y con ampollas en donde sea. El sol es demasiado fuerte por aquí, uno debería echarse bloqueador cada… tres horas si te metes al agua.

    Yo no he comprobado por mi misma esa afirmación que hice arriba (soy morena, y siempre me echo bloqueador de todas formas), sino que fue mi padre. Después de eso no podía sentarse en el bus por las ampollas que tenía en la espalda.

    Me encanta leer tu blog. Es muy muy interesante!

  10. Hola Paloma!
    Sí, fue una estupidez de mi parte–y me enojé bastante conmigo mismo… Nunca habría bajado a la playa sin bloqueador y de hecho, siempre es mejor aplicarlo media hora ANTES de salir al sol y reaplicarlo frecuentamente- yo normalmente una vez por hora. Esta vez la tontera se produjo justamente porque NO estaba en la playa, sino en el auto, con brisa fresca, etc. y ni lo pensé! Como bien dices tu… el sol aquí es fuertísimo!
    Muchas gracias por tus comentarios! Me alegro mucho que te guste el blog!

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