by Louisa Porter
The sun has always been a hated enemy of mine. My skin, which seems as if it was made of a thin gauze of ice whenever I come outdoor would easily turn red, sprout little itchy rashes and peel the moment the sun’s rays come into contact with it. Because of my unending hate affair with the sun, I take longer to shop for toiletries because I have to check whether all the items I am buying has adequate SPF protection or not. That also means that I am always left out of vacations and trips to the beach. While all my friends are sunbathing in their little bikinis or while my family takes a walking tour of some tourist sight, I am always left in the hotel or am found shopping for souvenirs by myself in a covered, air conditioned shopping mall.
Imagine then my reaction when my boss decided to treat us all to a well-earned vacation by spending four days in bright sunny La Paz, Baja California way down south in Mexico. A ski trip within the states or doing the tourist thing in Canada would have been fine for me since I wouldn’t be constantly threatened by harmful UV rays in these places as much as other places, but going to Mexico was a little extreme. They had beaches and deserts there, two of the top three places I try to avoid as much as possible because of the necessity to protect my skin.
A couple of days before the company trip then, I hunted body care shops for their body lotions, facial moisturizers, lip balms, and sunblocks with the highest SPF protection possible. I went shopping for wide brimmed hats, fashion police be damned! I bought humongous sun glasses that have UV ray protected lenses and several long sleeved cotton shirts to keep my arms from being burnt by the sun when in La Paz. As I packed up the items I bought, I cursed global warming and daylight in general for making me look utterly unfashionable when I actually wear these things in public.
I was wearing several layers of sunblock, a new hat and new sunglasses when we got to our hotel in La Paz. The room I as to share with another female co-worker was way beyond beautiful. The beds were all soft and clean with crisp linen sheets and smooth satin-like comforters and pillows. There was a little kitchenette equipped with a fridge, stove, coffeemaker and an microwave oven. All the large potted plants and panoramic windows in the bathroom made me want to strip of right away and sooth my sun burnt skin in a cool and fragrant bubble bath. The hotel room also had a terrace over looking a ridiculously blue sea and an even more ridiculously clean white sand beach which instantly made me feel sorry I wouldn’t be able to spend as much time there as I would have wanted. Since we arrived even before six in the morning, we decided to head for breakfast at the hotel restaurant and after that, go to the beach for whatever recreational activities we would find.
While everyone quickly went swimming, kayaking or para sailing, I was left standing under the shade of a little beach umbrella with nothing to do but stare at the inviting, glittering waves. It was then that I saw a couple dressed in scuba diving clothes walking towards a little shack and thought that I could sure use outfits like them. Not only with the scuba wear keep the sun’s UV rays away from my skin, but being underwater would lessen the harm the sun could do to me. So with nothing else better to do, I signed up for a one hour wreck diving tour and found myself under the Sea of Cortez swimming side-by-side with a cute tour guide in less than 30 minutes. We wove in and out of a ship found at the bottom of the sea floor where colorful schools of fishes and a couple of dolphins flashed in and around the surrounding coral reef. It was a wonderful one hour-long experience and the best thing of all, I was able to spend it under the sun and the sea.