Getting third degree burns didn’t extinguish my passion for travel

I’ve got my share of sunburn stories, but they all pale in comparison to today’s guest post writer. Clare learned some very important lessons on that fateful journey to Morocco.

welcome to moroccoWhen you’re about to go travelling, do you have a checklist that you live by? A list of items to pack, a series of sights you want to see and things you want to do, or even an array of experiences you want to have at the end of your travels. Yes, yes, and yes? Then you are not alone.

Pyramids in Cairo, tick. Swimming with dolphins, tick. Third degree burns, tick.

Something seemingly small as buying sun-cream before reaching your 40-degree heat destination can save you a lot of hassle, and quite a bit of pain and inconvenience.

My story, however, is going to tell you how getting third degree burns on holiday still did not stop me from enjoying my time abroad.

Chelsea and I had just finished our third and final year of University. While awaiting our results, we looked online and booked our dream holiday to Essaouira, Morocco. We could not wait to get there. Located on the Atlantic Coast, we knew our time in Essaouira was going to be memorable, and that was before we had even stepped off of the plane.

Ushered by one of the hotel waiters, we were taken to a market stall selling sun-cream to tourists. Opting for the safe Nivea sun-cream, I felt reassured that my fair, freckly skin would be relatively safe in the burning sun.

All was well until that night. In films you hear of protagonists turning green, into a werewolf, or to another kind of monster. I, however, turned into a very sore, red lobster.

Gritting my teeth and applying the Moroccan oil we’d bought that day in the market, I couldn’t help but feel physically uncomfortable and anxious in my own skin. I’d been paranoid about the fluid, liquid nature of the Nivea sun-cream I had bought earlier that day, and by the time the blisters and severe skin damage arose on day 4 of our trip, I was feeling a little disheartened to say the least.

morocco shopkeepersHowever, after talking through concerns with my best friend who was so patient with me and my ailment that holiday, I decided to not let my red face stop our short time in such a beautiful place. If I didn’t let it bother me, then it wouldn’t bother anyone else.

Fast forward to the end of the holiday and we had made friends with two shop-owners who taught us how to play the drums, and bargained to buy some of their wares. We were taught how to cook a three-course Moroccan meal by the chefs in our hotel, and Chelsea went camel riding while I went off on a photograph hunt. Breathing in the fresh air, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face; we had made the best of what can only be described as later, an unfortunate occasion.

Hugging goodbye our favourite waiters, new friends in the shop, and speaking broken French and Arabic one last time to our hotel owners, it was safe to say that we had a fantastic time in Morocco.

The plane journey was uncomfortable but relatively short and, luckily, it was only when I got home that the seriousness of my burns came to light.

big blistersI was hospitalised and in pain with serious blisters, and when the doctor told me I had suffered third degree burns and a reaction to the sun, triggered by the sun cream, it was time to take action. I was forced to cancel my subsequent trip to Spain and instead rest up and let myself heal.

Now, as I write this, after a lot of correspondence with Nivea about the issue, it appeared that the bottle dated back to 2007 and had been tampered with, and the original Nivea sun-cream replaced. What I had applied was definitely not sun-cream.

However, voicing my concerns to Nivea after I returned to the UK provided me with a sense of closure to a painful experience that proved to me that I enjoy life and my surroundings even when suffering from third degree burns.

This lesson was a painful but important one; don’t let bad situations get you down. If you can still find something to smile about and enjoy, then do it.

Lesson number two? It’s always safer to buy sun-cream back home.

This article was written by Clare Dyckhoff who is a travel writer for Gap Year Escape. When she is not reading poetry, Clare is photographing sights ranging from Machu Picchu to Scotland. The world is our oyster, so let’s get cracking.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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One Response to Getting third degree burns didn’t extinguish my passion for travel

  1. Annie André February 8, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    Um, OUCH!!!
    YOu are such a trooper. I almost fainted when i saw the pictures of your burns. Checking my supply of sunscreen now.. 🙂

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