Upon our arrival in the Galapagos Islands we instantly hit the beach. We packed our towels, wet-suits, snorkel gear, suntan lotion, umbrellas and hats, and headed straight for a day of responsible sun, sand and surf.
We snorkeled close enough to touch enormous sea turtles, were slapped around under water by playful sea lions, and swam through schools of sharks, rare coral, and colorful fish while blue footed boobies and frigatebirds circled overhead. At the end of the day we collapsed onto the beach next to an equally as exhausted sea lion, enjoying an afternoon nap under the warmth of the fierce Equatorial sun.
That day I made one tragic error in judgement which left me with severe burns.
Now, what’s wrong with the above photo? Can you tell? I’m wearing a hat, applied suntan lotion twice hourly and am safely covered from head to toe in a wetsuit to safeguard me from the sun. Well, not exactly from head to toe.
The sun is something I am incredibly conscious about while traveling. Having been viciously burnt in the past on numerous occasions, I now apply suntan lotion each morning out of routine, and carry it with me everywhere we go. I was burnt so badly in 2009 while traveling through Europe that it ruined the pigmentation in my nose which is now permanently red. (I may comment on social media when someone asks that it’s just very cold out, but now you know the truth!).
A lot of expensive laser surgery later, my nose is slowly on it’s way to recovery. I also listed not being sun smart as one of my 5 biggest mistakes while traveling. There is a pretty hideous photo if you care to click through to that link.
So I have a pretty bad track record with the sun. I have light skin, and I harbor a hatred for those who can spend all day in the sun and walk away with nothing more than a glorious tan. Seriously. I hate those people.
I took every precaution I could think of while we were in the Galapagos, including a full body wetsuit and umbrellas for shade. But I forgot to apply suntan lotion to my feet. And the results were pretty catastrophic.
The next morning the island of San Crisotbal awoke to the blood curdling screams of me in excruciating pain. My skin was so tight and swollen that I instantly collapsed as soon as I attempted to stand out of bed and walk. The pain was agonizing. It was as if someone had tightened my skin to it’s breaking point and at any moment my foot would violently tear apart.
Normally with sunburnt feet, your ankles swell to kankles. Mine were so swollen that I couldn’t even tell I had ankles. My leg was one solid trunk.
I’ll save you from the pictures once the peeling began. It was a level of disgusting that I wouldn’t wish upon even those who tan.
Moral of the Story
I’m sure you can easily guess, that the moral of the story is to remember to apply suntan lotion to your feet while at the beach. But also to stay sun-smart while traveling. Be aware that when traveling internationally you may be entering a country with UV Rays more fierce than you are used to at home. Act accordingly to protect yourself and your health.
I’ve long since ditched my skinny bikini while traveling, and if the sun’s out, usually hit the water wearing dorky T-shirts and pants. I would rather be able to enjoy the following day, plus, now that I’m married, he’s legally obligated to love me no matter what I wear!
We always travel with a hat, and usually now take umbrella’s with us on beach trips just in case the sun becomes too brutal.
Suntan lotion should be applied regularly, and immediately as you exit the water. And my biggest piece of advice:
DON’T FORGET YOUR FEET!!!!