That One Time I Almost Got First Degree Burns and Had a Wardrobe Malfunction in the Sand Dunes in Maspalomas

This is a story about these three unfortunate events, in this order:

1. I wore a dress for a leisurely stroll in the sand dunes in Maspalomas.

2. I almost got first degree burns on my feet.

3. I had wardrobe malfunction in front of two tourists.

Allow me to explain.

When I was younger, my family and I used to vacation every year in Traverse City, Michigan.

Traverse City is famous for its summer cherry festival, vineyards, and Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Park.

My family rented a lakefront cabin on Little Glen Lake, where we could see the sand dunes from our dock.

Year after year, my brothers and I climbed up the sand dunes barefoot, and jumped from higher dunes into the sand. We also loved to run down the dunes as fast as we could.

We did all this climbing and jumping in the peak of summer. Barefoot. Keep this in mind.

When I read that Gran Canaria also has sand dunes, I knew I had to make a trip to see how they compare.

I will probably always be biased toward the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in northern Michigan. Look how tall they are! Look how majestic they are! Spreading for miles and miles upon the northern shores of Michigan!

That being said, I’m still open to seeing other sand dunes. So, I hopped on a bus toward the south of the island.

I’d seen pictures of these sand dunes before; I do my research. And in my research, these sand dunes fell flat of my expectations.

I’m serious. They’re quite flat.

Do you see 400+ foot tall sand dunes? Nope. So in my mind, I’m thinking:

A leisurely stroll through the sand dunes, while barefoot. There’s just something so relaxing about walking barefoot in the sand.

So I get to the sand dunes. And I’m wearing this.

This is not the first time I’ve worn a dress to a location in which I should not wear a dress (see: Toledo, San Sebastián).

But I thought, since I’m not going to be cannonballing into a pile of sand, why not look cute?

Before you judge me, two months before, I had spent half my time in Madrid being under some sort of lockdown, whether it was perimeter or actual lockdown in my apartment. After a year in leggings, I wanted to walk outside and feel normal again. Which for me is in a dress.

So, I started to walk.

And that is where my troubles began.

In Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, the sand feels slightly warm, and walking on it barefoot feels like stepping onto soft pillows that have come out of the dryer.

Meanwhile, one step onto the sand in the Maspalomas sand dunes felt like I was trespassing on the devil’s backyard.

In other words: IT WAS VERY, VERY HOT.

The sand felt more like lava (may I remind you this island was once upon a time a very active volcano?!).

Every time I walked, the sand would surround the edges of my feet, and the burn felt like the sand itself was laughing at me for my poor fashion choices.

I was breathing heavily not because the dunes were strenuous to walk through. They were not. They are pancakes compared to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. But, they were scalding my feet.

At first, I thought that if I walked fast, the sand wouldn’t touch my feet long enough to hurt. But that just caused more sand to cover my feet.

Then, I thought if I walked slowly, I could prevent more sand from touching my feet. That worked half the time. The other half, my feet would start to get covered in an avalanche of scorching hot sand.

The problem wasn’t the dress. This time, the problem was the shoes.

I tried, my friends.

I wanted a really cool blog post about how I blazed through the sand dunes like the overdressed explorer that I am. I wanted to write about jumping off tall sand dunes and making sand angels. I wanted to write about running from the sand dunes and jumping into the ocean.


When your feet feel like they are being slowly and tortuously pulled into the fiery depths of the earth, you’re no longer thinking of cool blog posts and jumping into the ocean.

All you can think of is OH MY WORD MY FEET ARE SO HOT THEY FEEL LIKE THEY ARE MELTING MY SOUL and then that’s when I kind of lost my mind.

At one point, I couldn’t take it. I threw my beach bag onto the ground, and stood on top of it, as if it were my pedestal.

Finally, for a moment, I stood at the height doctors always told me I would be (liars), and my feet were at peace.

And then it hit me:

If I continued walking, I was going to see sand. And in 10 minutes? MORE FLAT BORING SAND. I spent my childhood climbing sand dunes. I’ve seen more sand than most people have in their lifetimes. I knew what was ahead. Screw YOLO and FOMO, I’m done!

That being said, I realized I still needed to head back. Which I did after 15 more painful minutes.

But wait: there is indeed more.

I noted there was a wooden boardwalk along the entrance to the dunes. Finally, I thought, I can get the romantic single lady stroll I’ve been wanting.

So I’m walking, and people passing me are making snide remarks about my fashion choices. How do I know? The Italian word for dress, “vestito” is very similar to the Spanish equivalent, “vestido.”

Another pair of travelers passed me, and said in English, “Where’s your sense of adventure?” before continuing their conversation in Spanish.

In my defense, walking around the sand dunes while walking on what feels like the molten crust of the earth in a dress and sandals is pretty damn adventurous, even more so than the comfortably dressed tourists. They have it too easy with their sneakers and backpacks and shorts and liters of water. Meanwhile, if I got stranded with nothing but a beach bag and a 16-ounce bottle of water, I know I’d be able to manage.

And then it happened.

A gust of wind.

My flowy dress.

And two travelers behind me (thankfully women).

It happened so fast I couldn’t stop it.

From the depths of the earth, wind blasted from seemingly UNDER the ground and inflated my flowy dress, as if I were Mary Poppin’s umbrella, ready to float up, up, up.

Except I did not float up, up, up, because I’ve eaten a lot of ice cream over the past year, so what happened was, the dress had morphed into an inside out umbrella floating up, up, UP!, which is as ridiculous as it is useless.

And the women behind me saw EVERYTHING.

I wish I could say this is the first time something like this has happened to me. It has not.

I also wish I could say this is the last time this will happen to me. I cannot.

Anyway, I was able to pull my dress down after a moment of panic. Plus, I was wearing a bathing suit underneath, so it’s not like I had anything to hide.

After I left the dunes, I spent the rest of the day at the beach, passing my time between swimming and sitting on sand of a more comfortable temperature.

So, what can I say after a day of burning my feet, wearing a dress to the sand dunes, and having my dress go WHOOSH on two strangers?

What I can say went well is that I looked amazing.

The moral of the story is this: if you’re going to fail miserably at something, do it while looking absolutely fabulous.

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