Coca-Cola is the Peruvian Tanning Lotion
You shouldn’t believe everything you hear. This saying always pops up AFTER you’ve done something stupid. Today was no exception. As I was intermittently going between my hammock, the fruit smoothie bar, and the pool in the desert oasis of Huacachina Peru, I started to talk with the waitress. She laughed at my Argentinian accented Spanish and then divulged a Peruvian secret to me: Coca-Cola is the Peruvian Tanning Lotion.
I laughed at this revelation until I realized she was defending Coca-Cola. You western girls spend hundreds on tanning lotions and bake on the beach. Us Peruvian woman grab a 1 Sol (50 cent) Coca-Cola and rub it on our skins. We turn a gorgeous brown and pay very little. And what we don’t put on ourselves we can drink the rest – can’t do THAT with YOUR tanning lotion can you?
I had never used tanning lotion in my life. I am a HUGE fan of lathering myself thickly in sun screen. The higher the SPF the better. But it was nearing the end of my South American Adventure. My arms were brown but every other part of me had yet to see the light of day. I was stark white under my capris and t-shirts. So I gave in to the Peruvian way – I bought myself a Coca-Cola and returned to my hammock.
I then stared at my glass bottle of coke with a straw in it. What is the best method to apply Coca-Cola to oneself without looking silly? I sipped up some Coca-Cola into my straw, put my finger over the top to lock it in, and pulled it out of the bottle. This method wasn’t any better than simply dumping the Coca-Cola on myself as the liquid just went everywhere. so here I was, straw in hand, Coca-Cola dripping all over my legs, and I frantically tried to rub it in before wasting the precious substance.
Rubbing Coca-Cola on your skin means you are the stickiest person around. Disgustingly sticky. My arms were sticking to my body and I had to ripe them apart with each swing on my arm. No more merry frolicking between the hammock, smoothie bar, and pool for me. This was dedication to practising a Peruvian secret. And secret I might add that turned out to be false. Thus the adage: You shouldn’t believe everything you hear.
I went on 30 minute intervals switching between the direct sunlight on my hammock to the shade and refreshment of the pool. With each dip I reapplied the Coca-Cola tanning lotion. After 4 hours I was spent – I was exhausted from the heat, tired of being sticky, and dying to read in the air conditioning. So I showered off the lotion and gazed at myself in the mirror afterwards. I stared in Horror; I was beyoond Red – I was purple, and bumpy. I had just committed a skin-ageing disaster. I looked 50 and leathery. And the worst part – I knew that the pain hadn’t set in. And I knew that pain would be formidable. And it was.
It was the WORST advice I had ever been given. But I am the idiot who believed it. Coca-Cola is NOT an alternative to tanning lotion. In hind-sight I realize sitting in the sun for 4 hours in Peru is not smart, never mind compounding that with the stupidity of lathering oneself with sugar. Peruvian secret my ass – this was a Peruvian death trap.
Lesson Learned; Coca-Cola may be the Peruvian Tanning Lotion but it is NOT the Canadian one!