The title here may lead you to think I'm about to launch into a post about evangelizing the lost in a heartless way, but actually, I'm about to ramble about a sunburn as a reply to Dive's post about British people and their fair skin.
Several years ago we went to Cancun, Mexico for a brief vacation. It was spring break, and you really don't want to be anywhere near Cancun during spring break unless you enjoy mobs of drunk and obnoxious college kids. We managed to stay out of their way, for the most part. We stayed at the Camino Real, an old hotel on the tip of the peninsula with its own private beach and away from Señor Frogs. We arrived at night, so I wasn't sure of my bearings, but in the morning, when I stepped out of our room's back door and stood in the lush grass, and I faced the ocean and the rocks and the lizards sunning themselves on the sidewalk, I knew I was going to like this place. After a leisurely morning, we found our way to that private beach I mentioned and settled in. We claimed some beach chairs under thatched-roof umbrellas, stretched out, and spent the afternoon doing nothing.
There was a bar within a few feat of our spot, so we had ready access to fish tacos, ceviche, and Coronas. We read and splashed in the surf and played in the sand and took naps. I swear I tried to stay under that umbrella as much as possible, but I burned anyway. I burned head to toe, even my poor scalp—my hair is a bit thin.
The next day we drove small speed boats out into the gulf for a snorkeling tour. While I wore a hat when driving the boat, I couldn't very well snorkel with one, and once again my poor head was exposed to the Mexican sun. What is a fair-skinned girl to do? The day after that, we took a bus ride to a touristy snorkeling river and a tour of Tulum, and it was on that day that I turned into a cartoon character. If I could choose a cartoon character to become, I might choose Bugs Bunny or Huckleberry Hound or Angela Anaconda. I wouldn't mind being Pepper Ann for a day, and Betty Rubble is cute as a button. But those weren't the characters I became. Of course not. On my lovely vacation in Mexico with ocean breezes and wonderful food and side-trips to ancient ruins, I became Squidward, a cranky sea creature with a bad clarinet.
My forehead swelled up like a balloon with big dents from where my last snorkel mask had been strapped on. You know how you can look down with just your eyes and kind of see your nose? As a sea creature, I could look up with just my eyes and see this looming mass above my eyebrows. I was the Elephant Man on holiday. While at the snorkeling river, Daughter No. 2 and I swam with dolphins, and we each had our picture taken with one of them, the kind you stop by later to view and pay for. When I saw my photo in the rack and saw the huge dent in my head from the snorkeling mask, I left the photo behind. I would be happy with the memory of the dolphin experience but would not be taking documented proof that I was malformed for a day.
Once back at the hotel, I rested with a cool cloth on my head, hoping to ease the swelling and wondering how this would come back to haunt me in my old age. What sort of melanoma would surface from this bout with sun poisoning. Within a few hours, the swelling subsided enough that I could clean myself up and go out for dinner without drawing attention from gawkers, but my forehead was still a little puffy.
The sun can be a scary thing for the fair skinned, and it only takes a few hours of thoughtless exposure to make you wish you had worn a hat. If your burn is bad enough, you might even wish you had chosen a vacation in the Yukon Territory instead of the Yucatan Peninsula.