The burning season is starting up in Belize, and it’s already killing me, figuratively speaking. They seem to burn trash here all year round, but in the summer they do a lot of agricultural burning. Depending on the winds it can blow right into town. I know of at least one friend that took her infant son home for a couple months last summer because the air quality was so bad.

I have pretty decent hay fever allergies…”decent” meaning substantial. It never really bothered me. I’d take Benadryl at night and something non-drowsy during the day if I was sneezing a lot. Right before I left Florida for Antarctica in 2002, I finally went to an allergist to research some possible food allergies. Nothing came back for the food (although we’ve since narrowed it down to MSG after years of thinking it was sulfites), but my dust and pollen allergies registered so high that he wanted to start me on injections. No thanks! Good thing I was leaving the country for a barren and frozen desert.

Now I’m back in a similar climate with fewer air quality controls and also back to taking Benadryl. Last night the embassy and housing compounds both reeked of wood smoke…and it’s only March. We like to keep our house locked up pretty tightly with the AC running at a nice cool 74 degrees, but not everyone enjoys that as much as we do. When it’s cooler in the evenings they’ll open the windows and sliding doors.

I recently went over to a friend’s house for dinner and spent the entire time sneezing into my napkin…my eyes red and puffy and my nose running. This morning I spent 20 minutes sneezing all over my desk before finally heading down to the Health Unit for some non-drowsy antihistamines. I have a feeling it’s going to be a long summer.