The Rash in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Marshlands in Las Terrenas

About a week into my stay here in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, I got this weird rash in my crotch region. Now I know this is a family friendly bloggie-blog but bear with me. I’m in the tropics where there are all kinds of causes for weird rashes. It’s hot. I’m walking about nine kilometers to the grocery stores and back almost every other day, so it could be just chafing.

The Rash

The itching and pain and redness is getting worse and worse and I’m getting worried. Could this be something weird from swimming in the ocean? It was a bit murky and my beach is right by a river delta. Could it be from one of the pools I’ve been swimming in? I do some research on Mayo Clinic’s website as it could be an unusual yeast infection.

Street cats asking for breakfast outside apartment
Mama cat and kitten outside my apartment. They would like some breakfast please!

I’m reading along and the website mentions not to use scented feminine hygiene products. No doubt! If you know me, you know that I’m extremely allergic to fragrances. I get rashes if I use lotion with perfume and I have asthma caused by this unfortunate chemical sensitivity. I’ve had to have very embarrassing conversations with co-workers trying to convince them not to wear perfume at work.

It’s been a genuine struggle to find fragrance-free products outside of the United States. I had my in-laws bring me special shampoo and conditioner and I use coconut oil alone as lotion. I can’t even imagine the amount of pain I would be in if I used scented feminine hygiene products. Then my eyes get all bugged out and I run to the bathroom to smell the toilet paper.


Yup… scented bum paper. FFS! Why-oh-why would anyone need perfume in their bog rolls? I immediately stopped using the smelly toilet paper. It took a bit of searching to find a product that was made without fragrance, but it did me a world of good once I found it. I feel much better now. If I could only find fragrance-free dish soap!

Pink hibiscus flower
This hibiscus flower is massive! The grounds here are so beautiful.

Luckily, this apartment has a bidet (actually it has two because there is also one in the guest bathroom!). For all my US friends who don’t know what a bidet is and have only seen one in the movies, it’s like a small bathtub. You poop like regular in the toilet. Wipe like regular (although you don’t have to wipe as much) while still on the toilet (some locations require the butt paper to go in the trash by the toilet, so watch for signs). Then you sit/straddle the bidet and wash your bits with soap and water.

Think of it as if you were going to take a shower or a bath after you poop. It’s the same thing, only you don’t get all the parts of your body wet, just your bum. Then towel off and you are fresh and clean for the rest of the day. It’s very nice. Plus, you can wash your feet in it or anything else you would wash in a small bathtub… a baby?… I can’t think of anything else. Anyway, I like it and don’t know why these are not everywhere.

The switching from scented toilet paper to un-scented did wonders for the rash I was experiencing. Unfortunately, the damage was done as it took me too long to figure out what the issue was, so it’s taking a while to fully heal. It’s like the eczema I get on my fingers from the scented dish soap. Tropical rashes are no joke!

Mrs. ItchyFeet at bottom of stairs
These stairs to my apartment are no joke! I got my backpacks full of groceries.

But how is the apartment?

After three weeks in Las Terrenas, I’m getting used to this place. The apartment is lovely, but the back of the building is on ground level. This increases the number of large cockroaches that make their way into my home. They seem to be nice enough. They stop moving when you turn on the light and spot them, like they think you are T-Rex and can’t see them if they don’t move. Then (when they think you can no longer see them) they slowly hide behind or under the nearest object. I play along.

My apartment is on this massive hill, so the deck has this gorgeous view of the ocean and surrounding tropical forest. It’s really pretty and very quiet. Plus, the grounds are great habitat for lizards, rails, egrets, turtles, fishes (they jump out of the river at bugs and low-flying birds and scare the bejesus out of me!), dragonflies, and so many butterflies.

Fish in marshland near apartment
These fish jump out of the river for bugs. They scare me every time!

The apartment is quirky. It doesn’t have an oven but has a countertop toaster-oven, with a digital readout and “oven” (and “pizza”…) settings. This is also in place of a microwave, which is taking some getting used to. No dishwasher and no clothes dryer, but at least there is a shared washer. I don’t have to lug my dirty clothes the four kilometers into town!

Those stairs are no joke!

Plus, I get drinking water delivered here. In México, I had to walk down the street and then carry that crazy heavy 20 liter jug of water all the way back. I can’t even imagine doing that here with all these stairs! I would probably tumble backwards and break myself even more. Nope. The wonderful groundskeeper just brings me a new jug anytime I leave my empty one outside. Then I give him some cash moneys the next time I see him. It’s very nice.

When renting this place, I went through Airbnb for the first month, just in case anything went terribly wrong. I expected to pay way more the first month, and then $800/month after that. The manager was so nice and let the extra money from what I paid to Airbnb go into the damage deposit. That saved me about $300!

Green lizard on palm tree
I do love the lizards around here!

Internet is now a necessity

It took a few days for them to finally fix the internet, which was a colossal pain (I refused to sign the lease until it got fixed as I heard it had been down for weeks). Plus, I just couldn’t find the store that sold SIM cards to get data for my phone. Each day, I had to hike into town to find Wi-Fi so that I could contact people, bring up maps of the town, and try to figure out what to do next. The town isn’t that complex, but the stores aren’t always in the locations indicated on the map.

Finally found the store I needed and obtained precious-precious phone data. You really don’t realize how much you need the internet until it is gone. My fancy TV that came with the apartment needs the internets for all the shows. Good thing I have an eReader for books… but you need internet to get more books. The local book store burned down in the last hurricane, so it’s not like I’m getting physical books.

Turtle in river near apartment
Check out this tortuga dominico-haitiana (hispaniolan slider) in the marshlands near my apartment!

The sargassum found me again!!!

This area never gets sargassum. Like never! I’m here for a bit over a week and bam!… a huge raft of sargassum makes its way to our beach. People were shocked and very bummed. Lots of talk about how this never happens here. It’s just following me around the Caribbean! So I had to stop swimming in the ocean until this clears up, which it slowly is.

The sargassum was crazy though because it clogged up the river delta, so the river got all backed up. The tide would come in with a bunch of water and sargassum, but then the river couldn’t flow back out. As the sargassum in the river rotted, it smelled so bad. Like so-so bad. The water level in the marshland around the property got higher and higher so that walkways became submerged with brackish water.

Sargassum in Las Terrenas
Sargassum… sigh.

One road by the river even flooded and became impassable. Crazy. A couple of boats had gotten stranded on the river side so they finally paid for a tractor to dredge out the delta again so they could get their boats out. Boat strandings are fascinating! Hopefully, the sargassum will be gone soon so I can get back into the ocean. It’s an adventure!

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1 Comment

  1. What an interesting place.
    Your adventures continue!!!
    Barb and I are looking forward to our visit.

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