30 June, 2018

Surprised by the Expected

They say "expect the unexpected" and yet we all prepare for what we expect, isn't that true?

As I prepared to move into the tropics - me, a very light-skinned person of northern-European descent - I prepared for the expected. Sunblock, aloe gel for the inevitable burn... I habitually use sunblock all summer against incidental sun. In the States, if I ate lunch outside - 15 minutes, mind you, at 40*N latitude - I would come in with pink on my arm, or my neck or wherever was most exposed.

Shameless plug: I have used Mary Kay skincare for decades, and their Day Solution has an SPF, as does the light foundation and foundation primer I use. For this reason, I never add regular sunblock to my face. Mary Kay is awesome.

Every morning I apply sunblock on my neck and shoulders, collarbones down to my collar line, and the tops of my feet and ears.

Now, the city is very quiet at midday. Everyone is resting. A 2-hour lunch break is standard, so people can rest after lunch, in the heat of the day. I love that and try to adopt it, although I don't always nap. I walk on the beach most mornings, and we walk a short distance for a "lunch" usually midafternoon. Brett teaches from 5-8 in the evening, so we usually grab another bite after that. Sometimes we go out more often or walk a longer distance in the morning to a major shopping center.

In short, I'm getting morning sun, and only occasionally out for a bit during peak hours. 

All this is to say that, contrary to my expectation, I haven't gotten sunburned! I was so prepared to burn. I have been slowly getting just a little bit of color from the incidental sun I get. This is an astounding blessing because my sunburns don't even have the grace to fade into a tan. They peel, and then I go right back to my freckled, mole-y paleness. So I've been delighted with my skin's reaction to moving closer to the equator.

Yesterday I burned.
It surprised me.
I did nothing particularly different, although my morning walk on the beach was longer than usual. But the tan lines around my arms are from the t-shirt I changed into before we left for lunch. We walked about the equivalent of a block and a half and ate under an awning. 
And I burned. 
It was 1:30. 
I had not re-applied sunblock.

All my preparations and in the end the very thing I had been expecting happened anyway. Silver lining: It's a minor burn. I have burned to a blister so often this pink is nothing. Well, it's a surprise, but not a catastrophe.

Incidentally, I've been toying for days with simply writing a post full of my tips for transitioning pale skin into a tropically sunny environment. Maybe I still will. Failure is the best teacher!

Have you ever been surprised by something you thought you were prepared for?


  1. Ouch! I'm a fair skinned spotty, dotty blonde(?) who has lived with the Australian sun all my life - the amount of times I burned and peeled through my youth makes me very annoyed at myself. I woke up to it in my late teens and never go out in full sun without a hat - and sunscreen is my best friend if I know I'll be in direct sun for any length of time. It can still sneak up on me though when I think it's okay because it's cloudy or I'm in the shade - that darn sun can get through anything it seems! Glad you only got pink - that usually converts to a bit of a tan rather than peeling - fingers crossed!

    1. Yeah, it seems to be healing. Until now, I've only used sunblock on bits that are aimed up at the sun: tops of feet, ears, shoulders, etc. and the incidental, off-hours sun hadn't harmed me. Live and learn!

  2. I know what you mean about sunburns. I guess what they say about reapplying every four hours is serious. Still, I would have expected you to be OK. Glad it's not a bad burn.

    1. I know. I'm relieved that I'm not seriously peeling. That happened too often to me when I was younger!

  3. So far, I've just gotten the one burn from being out on the scooter all day, but even then it wasn't bad. I hope to keep ot that way.

    1. I've got that Mary Kay men's line with SPF for the next day out in the sun!


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