Gerardo Mestre just doesn’t get it.
He’s a mountaineer on a course that crosses the Andes, Nepal and India in the quest to scale seven of the highest peaks in the world.
But the big question in his head is, why do Chile’s Andes Mountains suddenly get so hot? “This sun isn’t normal,” Mestre said, even though he’s no climber. “It’s only when we see our silhouettes under the setting sun that we understand the effect of the tropical sun.”
It’s because there’s no longer much room for northern light, so Chileans have to cope with more intense ultraviolet rays.
Mestre said this extra UV exposure can lead to the skin scorching under a sunny sky, as well as injuries to the eyes and lungs.
Every little bit counts, as Mestre noticed after stumbling across the discoloration of his upper lip. He could barely recognize himself at times.
Last year he had difficulty breathing, and it seemed as if he was burning up.
So, with the help of a doctor, he had a lab test done and was told his body was trying to compensate for higher exposure. The test also told him that he probably has traces of Vitamin D deficiency.
But the main causes for his troubles are to be found in the yellow of his veins, Mestre said. The yellow may be a skin color and nutritional deficiency, or it could be because he’s hiding fluid between his skin and organs.
Being overweight also contributes, as people with excess body fat may use up more energy when exposed to sunlight.
How many kilojoules can one burn each day when sitting in the shade under a full moon? Well, during the summer days Mestre is climbing, this calculation is more than 12,500.
The temperature of this sun ranges from 72-80 degrees in the morning to between 100-110 degrees in the evening.
Mestre says that most of his conversations these days aren’t with women — the dry skin and blood can leave few words to pass.
He says that, since he’s only 37, he may have the edge on getting a diagnosis sooner.