I’ve recently returned from what many people would class as “paradise”. A place with hot sunny weather, white sandy beaches and warm clear seawater teaming with tropical fish. Perfection right? Well let me tell you, nowhere is ever perfect.
With hot weather comes sweating, lots of sweating. A perpetually shiny face and clammy back does not feel like paradise.
And with the sun comes sunburn, or the constant risk of it. Every excursion outside in paradise involves covering my sweaty (and in my case pale and Irish) skin in sticky factor 30.
The sticky, sweaty, suncreamy skin is manageable if all you are doing is lying on the beach, but lord help you if you venture inside anywhere and lean or sit on something. You will undoubtedly leave a greasy thigh shaped imprint of your visit. Lovely.
No, better to stick to the beach and hop in the water where you will feel much less sticky. It’s so refreshing, but also warm enough that you can just relax and loll about for ages. Yes, this is what it’s all about. But then, you start to think about your suncream again.
How long have you been in the water? You’ve lost track of time. The bottle says water-resistant but not waterproof. How long does the resistance last? Could you be burning now?
You can’t relax anymore, so you make your way back to dry land to reapply your sunscreen. As soon as you leave the water you start to sweat again. You grab your (obviously sandy) towel and try to dry off the sweat and saltwater as best you can. But all you manage to do is stick a large quantity of sand to your skin, which turns your sunscreen reapplication into a harsh and unwanted full body exfoliation. You persist, telling yourself skin cancer and premature wrinkles will be much worse than this.
Despite your best efforts your nose, forehead, shoulders and any part of your butt that was hanging out of your bikini will be bright pink by evening time.
Oh and the relaxing swim in the warm ocean? Be honest, you didn’t fully, fully relax because somewhere in the back of your mind is the knowledge that warm oceans are where killer jellyfish like to hang out (who can blame them?)
And then there are those little blood-sucking bastards (or “mosquitoes” if you want to give them their fancy scientific name). Here’s a little life lesson. Wherever you read the word “tropical” replace it with the words “shitload of mosquitoes”. I have a theory that the word “tropical” was actually coined by real estate agents and property developers. I imagine some big shot property developer’s underling saying “Sir, I reeeally don’t think we should build the hotel here. There are a shitload of mosquitoes.” And the boss says “Nonsense! We’ll just say it’s tropical.”
Mosquitoes are apparently most active at dawn and dusk. Dawn I find easy enough to avoid so that’s not a problem. Dusk, I must douse myself in insect repellent because naturally, when you are in “paradise”, the only place you can contemplate eating your dinner is in an open air restaurant close enough to the waters edge that you can hear the waves lapping.
Oh how idyllic I hear you sigh.
Indeed. Though in a place like this I’d really prefer to smell of designer perfume instead of stinking to high heaven of DEET. And I’d like to look cool and elegant. But I’m still sweating (because it’s what the property developers would call “balmy”). As I try to subtly wipe beads of sweat from my upper lip I manage to rub insect repellent into my mouth. Meanwhile the mosquitoes have found a route up my skirt to a repellent free zone. So instead of looking cool and elegant in this idyllic setting I’m washing my mouth out with water while at the same time trying to surreptitiously scratch my now mosquito bitten crotch.
And then comes the guilt. Because you are not having the best time of your life and you are in “paradise” for God’s sake so there must by something wrong with you. What kind of a person whinges in paradise? There are thousands of miserable people sitting in grim little office cubicles all over the world, cold rain pelting down outside, and they are staring at a screensaver image of the view from your villa window wishing they were where you are. And you’re complaining? What sort of an ungrateful, spoilt brat are you?
Okay, so you’ve got off on the wrong foot. A blast of icy air-conditioning and a cup of tea should sort you out. You’ll regain your composure and give this “paradise” thing another crack. But aaaaaagh! Your tea is ruined because all (all!) the milk in this whole entire country is UHT.
Paradise I tell you, it does not exist.
I actually had an amazing time on my holidays. I just wrote this to make you feel better because you didn’t get to go. And to make myself feel better because I’m no longer there.