Have you ever wondered how to be beautiful and glamorous, even on a mission trip? Probably the thought has never even entered your mind. But, just in case you should ever need to know, I have compiled a brief list of necessary info in order to look your best while traveling (specifically, in Northern Chile):
1. Dry shampoo is a girl’s best friend!
(And if you are an investor, you might consider buying stock in it. Hands down, the most overlooked essential item on a mission trip!) I met dry shampoo over 5 years ago, and I don’t know how I managed before. A girl from College Heights Christian School sprayed it in her hair, and… voila!… her greasy, slept-in hair transformed into fresh, clean locks. I was instantly a believer, and now obsessively keep an over-stock of cans of this product wherever I go. We are currently on a 7 week trip in South America and I have 5 outfits and THREE cans of dry shampoo! You just can’t have enough. (By the way, it is also handy when you AREN’T on a mission trip, and you just don’t want to have to wash your hair every morning….)
2. The “hervidor” and large bucket are key to luxury bathing.
First, I must explain the hervidor. (Spanish for “the boiler.”) It is a carafe that holds about a liter of water and can boil it in two minutes. No lie. It is the most amazing contraption for heating water. It sits on a hot plate that plugs into a wall outlet. When someone first told me to heat water in it, I expected it to boil in about 20 minutes. But, South America has a special feature: 220 volt outlets! Double the power we use in North and Central America. The water goes from room temp to boiling in 2 minutes! I have coupled the quick-heating feature of the “hervidor” with a two foot diameter plastic bucket in order to defy the phenomenon of the cold shower! My perfected recipe: 4 liters of boiling water. This is done in increments of a liter at a time that takes 2-3 minutes to heat each batch. I pour the boiling water into a cooking pot, hoping it helps retain the heat. Once my 4 liters are heated, I carefully mix the heated water with room temp water, getting it to the correct temp in the white bucket. Then, with a small plastic bucket, scoop the water over my head and enjoy a deliciously hot “shower.” If you are ever in South America, I hope you don’t miss the opportunity to see an hervidor in action! (Question to those reading from Europe: do you have these there? What do you call them???) Even if you aren’t heating water for bathing, you can have a hot cup of tea ready to drink in 2 minutes. Sorry I’m sounding like a product tester, it’s obvious I’m in love. The sad part is, they won’t work in 110 v outlets. The time will come when I will have to say goodbye.
We are in the desert of Northern Chile (I need cousin Jake to tell me the exact name of the desert…?). In case you wondered, deserts are extremely dry. I always thought the Grand Canyon was the driest place I had ever been. Well, there is a drier place in the Americas: The desert of Northern Chile. We began driving here from Bolivia, and I felt my face literally tighten with the dry-ness of the air. My lips began to crack, my hair started emitting crackles of static electricity. It was absolutely phenomenal how dry it became! The benefit of being so dry is that you can conduct wrinkle-projection studies. When your skin dries, it cracks and settles, and actually allows you to see how many wrinkles you will have in a few years. More than once, I have looked into the mirror and saw my Grandma looking back at me. The best part is, once I get back to humid Panama, I will look 10 years younger! So, if you ever come to the desert of Northern Chile, bring the strongest moisturizers you have, to treat your skin, your lips, even your nose. Which is where point #4 comes in:
4. Never underestimate the power of menthol.
Let me share this dislaimer: I come from the generation whose grandmothers used Vicks Vaporub to cure all things. A dab of menthol could chase away a cold, the pain of sore muscles, AND your love life. One whiff of that stuff and you were destined to spend the night alone. So, this bit of advice comes from a life-long skeptic. I have laughed at my grandmother’s obsession with menthol for 30 plus years. But, as my nose began to dry in the desert climate, I began suffering from repeat nose bleeds. The air whistled through my nose, and it was actually painful. One of my DTS students convinced me she held the cure: Menthol ointment. You just rub a finger-full in each nostril, and your dry nose symptoms were over. I have to say, it worked. Besides feeling like a huge dork putting menthol in my nose, my eyes watering over the smell, the magical effects were wrought: my nose instantly began to run. No more dry nose. The somewhat undesirable side-effect was the ol’ love life clause. Rob refused to kiss me. I can’t say I blamed him.
5. Spritz your water with lemon.
Here, the water is extremely alkaline. The desert here is salty. You can pick up a shiny chunk of rock and lick it, and it will taste like salt! As a result, the water tastes really strange. Kind of like there is a dry powder in it. We have learned to squeeze lemon into it. It sweetens the water. If you can, chill the water overnight. You will have a cool, refreshing treat!
6. Don’t forget your sunscreen, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed jungle hat (for Joey.) EVER.
We walk about 7 minutes across the desert to go to the lunch room. The sun at high noon is blistering! So, we prep the kids like they are spending a day at the beach for a ten minute walk to go eat lunch. The extraordinary thing is, the temps can be 90-100 degrees in the sun, and in the shade, a comfortable 70 degrees!
7. Dry your hair, unplugged.
The ability to dry here is amazing. Our clothes dry on the clothesline in 30 minutes. If you don’t take them off the line by 1 hour, they will start to fade from the sun. My hair dries in 20 minutes. 10-15 minutes, if sitting in full sun. When mopping, the floor you have started to mop will be dry before you are finished mopping the entire room! I have discovered the dumbest thing I packed for this trip was my hair-dryer.
8. My final beauty tip is to smile and laugh a lot!
Your smile lines may settle into dry cracks and wrinkles, but preserving a sense of humor is essential to true beauty! (And your family prefers a happy momma to a grumpy one.)
This list of beauty tips is NOT comprehensive. I welcome comments and tips from others to add to my repertoire! In conclusion, for all those ladies out there who will see me in December sporting a sweet tan and solar highlights, don’t be jealous. If you get too close to me, you might catch a whiff of menthol. That should be enough to convince you that nothing about this girl is even remotely glamorous.