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  1. #1
    fossildoc is offline Moderator 518 points
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    Logistics for new students - part X: Clothing tips

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    Clothing tips
    -------------
    There are three aspects of the weather you have to contend with: temperature, humidity, and sand.

    As I write this it's the beginning of winter, and most days range from 75 to 85 degrees. I haven't been here in the summer, but other posts have indicated that it can be unbearably hot at that time. At night now it cools off, to the point where you could wear a long sleeve shirt. You won't feel the coolness unless you're moving through it on a golf cart or bicycle.

    I wear long pants because I'm sun-sensitive, and so far I'm comfortable with that. The tourists all wear shorts, and they get burned badly. My advice is to wear lightweight long pants at first, and wear shorts for only a few minutes each day to gradually develop a tan. We're close to the equator and I can feel the UV rays destroying my cells. Bring lots of sunblock; I recommend Banana Boat SPF 50. I believe such creams go up to a rating of 70, which is available at Hariri's, a brand new grocery store run by Abdul, a member of the Arab community (very helpful folks). Bring as much as you can with you, because it's expensive here.

    I see tourists carrying umbrellas, Michael Jackson style, for sun protection. Although not common, it is not considered odd to do this, even for men. At a minimum, you must have a hat. You can buy fancy Crocodile Dundee-type hats in the tourist traps on Middle Street; they cost about $8US. Wear a hat with a wide brim to keep sun off your ears; a baseball cap will not do.

    For shirts, I haven't seen a long sleeve on anyone yet, but I'm going to set a new trend if I can find an ultralightweight one. I'll post it if I can. Your arms will bake if you're out in the sun too long. Light-skinned residents have told me that they try to avoid being outside between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. That's fine for med students, since we ought to be in school most of that time. Darker-skinned folk might not be affected as much by the sun, but I'm not really sure about this. Post a reply if you know.

    The humidity is a bigger problem than the temperature. Nothing is really dry here. When you put your clothes on in the morning, they will feel like someone didn't leave them in the clothes dryer long enough. Everything is always damp. You should run your air conditioner at least an hour a day; that removes moisture from the air and will let your clothes dry out and prevent mold from forming.

    The best fabric for dealing with hot moist climates is probably lightweight cotton. Definitely avoid moisture blockers like nylon, rayon, orlon, dacron, and other synthetic fabrics. Leave those nightgowns home (especially you men). Even 50/50 cotton/syntethic fabric will feel like Saran Wrap on your skin.

    The lighter your clothing, the better. Not only because of the weather, but because laundry services charge by the pound, not the load. (Rich kids can ignore this.)

    The last item of concern is sand. You'll need a broom, and if you're really into this sort of thing, a vacuum cleaner. Sand gets into everything, it seems. It will be all over your floor every day, carried in on your shoes, and all over the furniture, carried in by the wind blowing through the barndoor gaps around your doors (see post IX regarding weather stripping). You will be washing your hands like a guilty obsessive-compulsive on windy days. They could have called this place Sand Pedro. Dr. Renae has described the sand as a "natural exfoliant", i.e., if you don't like going to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned, face the wind and open your mouth a few times a day, and that should take care of it.

    I recommend that you always wear shoes. Many of the locals of all ages go barefoot all the time. Even electricians and plumbers are barefoot on the job. This may be an ancient tradition, but it has its drawbacks. There are lots of creepie crawlies that live in the grass and sting or bite, and the roadside is littered with junk, mostly of metal and refuse from abandoned construction projects. I would even avoid loafers. I'd wear combat boots if I had them.

    Next post: Getting medical help
    Last edited by fossildoc; 01-01-2006 at 02:40 PM.
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  2. #2
    md90's Avatar
    md90 is offline Senior Member
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    I'm of Asian origin and also of darker skin, and I have been sunburn twice in my life and neither times were in San Pedro. I would recommend that after you shower.. you should place two items on your body: musquito repellant, sun protectant and/or lotion (preferably with aloe vera). why? Musquitos and sandflies.

    Sandflies are the worst... you start scratching and wonder how and when they bit you. They are very small but their "bite" is something that you will remember... When you walk on the beach, don't walk on the seaweed.. that is where most sandflies lie their eggs and/or rest. Locals have told me that baby oil and/or lotion with aloe vera helps to minimize sandflies. It will make your skin slippery and hard for the sandflies to get hold of the skin to "bite." Personally, I always got bit by sandflies... they just love that Asian blood

    Musquitos.. it's best during the rainy season to carry a can of OFF with you. Make sure that the OFF is with DEET. This didn't work for me for my first semester.. they still find me and bit me.. I started to wear 100% DEET putting lotion on afterwards to help with the side effects of DEET. This can leave your skin dry and scaly... the lotion helps. I have not gotten bit by the musquito.. I actually got to see a musquito try to bite me, and the blood being regurgitated back to the musquito, then I "flicked" the musquito off my arm. Need to wear protection... cases of Dengue Fever have been seen in Belize (mainly on the mainland).. better to be safe.

    Another way is to be covered.. long sleeves and pants, and shoes. Musquitos and sandflies can't bite through the clothing and skin. That is hard for me.. I tend to get hot and clammy very fast.

    It's always nice when there's a nice breeze... less musquitos and sandflies. And when it rains, no musquitos.. BUT they come out afterwards; and be aware of the stagnant water...

  3. #3
    butters's Avatar
    butters is offline Senior Member 510 points
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    Good advice!

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