I love to travel, experiencing new cultures, exploring unfamiliar terrain, and of course catching waves in some exotic location. Living in Oregon, one has to appreciate the novelty of surfing in a wetsuit. That being said, most of us also very much enjoy a lil’ break from our cocoon of 5 mil neoprene. That’s why when a friend asked me to accompany her on a Central American adventure to Panama and Costa Rica, I enthusiastically joined forces with her. When travelling there are lots of things to take into consideration, what to pack, language barriers, important documents, change in climate, water quality, where to stay etc etc etc. The “change of climate” category really struck a cord in my planning efforts.
See I live in Oregon out of necessity as much as I live here because it is near and dear to my heart.
About 75% of the year Oregon is rainy, overcast, and void of all sun. Perfect for someone who suffers from being a Ginger (a redhead with very fair skin). I get sun burnt using my stove to boil water. So when planning for my adventure in a very sunny hot climate, I had to be thorough in my skin protection plan. I’ve used tons of sunscreens that when added to water (no matter how “waterproof” they claim to be) seem to turn to straight bear mace leaving me blinded and red as chili pepper, forcing me to spend the rest of my tropical vacation hiding out in a shady hammock with a book (also not bad, but tough for someone who is a wee bit hyperactive).
I had to find good sunscreen if I was going to get optimal surf time. I’ve tried all your common store brands and this time I decided I would try a product designed for the surf lifestyle, get some zinc brah! I had seen this Sun Bum sunscreen stuff flying off the shelf all summer long. It smelled amazing, but that doesn’t equate a non-lobsterized ginger in Latin America so I decided to research a little more. I read their little leaflet and my farmer’s market, vegetarian, yoga alter-ego was very pleased to see their products are Paraben and PABA free and I decided to give it a shot. I bought the clear 50 spf Zinc Oxide and the 50 spf spray sunscreen, said a little prayer, and headed to the sunny surf of Panama. On my first application of the Sun Bum I waited for the bear mace effect to ensue, but to no avail! One hour of Sun Bum applied time and I could still see?!
Unrestricted sun time, lobster-ization was with out a doubt on the horizon, BUT NO! Skin retains milky whiteness!
By the second week my friend had started using my Sun Bum Zinc because not only was it great for saving me from the harsh rays of the mean old sun, I also didn’t get the usual sunscreen breakout from having to slather my face every time I went out. The real test was when we spent 5 days on an island taking two boat trips daily to the surf, constant sun with the magnification of being on the water and I survived! It was on this particular island I met a fellow Ginger who was battling the sun/bear mace issues I had once myself suffered with, so I shared my Sun Bum, cause Gingers got to stick together.