Published on April 9th, 201617
Expat Dilemma #472: Where’d My Favorite Clothes Go?
Of course every country most certainly has plenty of “clothes” on the shelves – be it skinny polyester EVERYTHING in Asia, or sassy red and blue velveteen traditional skirts swinging on the (ample) hips of the indigenous lasses here in the Ecuadorian Andes. And I did find an abundance of cheap “Northface” knockoffs (mea culpa to my old beloved R.E.I. store in Seattle) amid the crowded markets in Ho Chi Minh City (even tagged with the esteemed waterproof/breathable “Gore-Tex®” label – not – askmehowIknow whilst I trekked on horseback in said soggy jacket amid the wilds of the Mongolian mountains).
But living perpetually abroad in lands with vastly different fashions (not to mention local populations with decidedly different body shapes and feet sizes), um… let’s just say that finding the simplest of long-sleeved cotton t-shirts ala T.J. Max, etc. are… elusive at best.
And that goes doubly for SHOES.
I of course flew the U.S. of A. coop with a small booty (but a backpack and a rollie) of Western duds (including a beloved pair of Tevas from the aforementioned R.E.I. store). But alas, that was nearly 5 years ago, and not surprisingly much of my original fashion stash has been A. stolen or B. simply been reduced to tatters from bountiful use:
The thing is – due to a pinched nerve amid my left foot toes (podiatrists call it “Morton’s Neuroma” – apparently a very common affliction), I’m unable to wear pretty much any and all closed-toe shoes (unless they’re built with a seriously wide toe area). Clearly that limits my shoe choices considerably (and sadly, rules out all those pointy-toed dress shoes, or even pretty little pumps). Suffice, should I be foolish enough to don a pair of the latter, within an hour I am guaranteed to be hobbling in excruciating pain.
So when I first arrived here atop this mountain in the South American Andes, I set out on a quest to replace my disintegrating old Borneo Tevas-not. And I did manage to find a couple of halfway satisfactory shoes in my size at the nearby (ughy) “shopping mall” (I *loathe* huge, convoluted, soulless malls, peopled with streams of zombie-like shoppers drifting about snatching up ever.more.STUFF). Seriously, and even then (oh the sacrifices I make for my feet), these were the *only* such shoes (of *any* size) in the entire mall!
I WANT MY *TEVAS* DAMMIT!
Indeed, for two solid *years* here in Cuenca I’ve searched in VAIN for a pair to replace my beloved U.S. of A. Tevas (or even a reasonable quality facsimle). Looked high and low I did – most every blessed “zapato” shop in El Centro, along with dragging myself to not one, but two nearby shopping malls (see “ugh…loathe…soulless” above). Plenty of “desportivos” (sports) shoes in all manner of vivid, glow-in-the-dark colors. Even authentic Nikes, etc. (with breathtaking prices to match).
But a simple “sandalia deportiva”? A sturdy Teva-esque number with rugged, corrugated soles (you know, so that I don’t trip every half cobble-stoned block and break an arm or leg)?
Nada. Absolutely no such shoe nowhere, nohow.
Ah but then… The zapato gods finally took pity on me last week, and led me to a stray little tienda right here in El Centro called “Acción Sports” (“La más Completa Casa Desportiva in Cuenca”). There, sitting lone amid the Nikes, Addidas and Reeboks, sat a single pair of… OMG size 7½ even!!!
lol – to my most loyal and tenacious readers that managed to make it all the way down here to the bottom deserve a shiny gold star. You’ve just read a near thousand word TravelnLass treatise on… her SHOES! 😀
But seriously – though you KNOW I’m totally head-over-heels (pun intended) with my life as an expat living in far-off lands – I just wanted to share/show that doing so does indeed pose a few dilemmas.
And though I can’t hand you a gold star through my computer screen – what I CAN do, is offer you a darling Youtube video on… why the CORRECT pronunciation of TEVAS of course!
Now what about you – the other expats out there – do share a quick whine in the comments on your own expat dilemma #472!