Expatn Tevas, blessed, elusive, Tevas!

Published on April 9th, 2016


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:


Toes in situ - Inle Lake, MyanmarI did manage to unearth a pair of cheap Teva-wannabees – in Borneo of all places! But suffice that even those (with velcro replaced on the straps TWICE) have now all but bit the dust.

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.

Two pairs of shoes that I can wear - rare finds here in Cuenca, EcuadorSo 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!

But still…


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!!!

Tevas, blessed, elusive, Tevas!

I normally wear size 8, but hey – beggars-can’t-be-choosers, yes?

A Gold Star for YOU!

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!


About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

17 Responses to Expat Dilemma #472: Where’d My Favorite Clothes Go?

  1. Oh, I can so identify with your dilemma as we have favorite brands too! My husband loves his Tevas and I’m a Chacco fan but a couple of years ago, after 2 years of traveling our shoes were really looking sad in Nicaragua and mine had had a couple of fixes with superglue. A (fabulous) friend returning from the US to Nicaragua brought over a couple of new pairs that we ordered online and then shipped to her. Since then we’ve made a couple of trips back to the States and each time we stock up!
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go kindly contributed to world literature by posting…It’s FEZinating! Ten Things We Liked About Fez, MoroccoMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Anita – as I so rarely need anything from my native land, I too find that generally it’s easy to find a U.S. friend or a fellow expat that’s visiting the States, to “mule” something in (which always M.U.S.T. include a small stash of peanut butter cups, yes?) 😉

      And indeed, as I mentioned below to another TL reader, quite a number of “mule” sites have now sprung up where you can pay a small fee to somebody traveling to your locale. Added bonus: often it helps young backpackers finance their travels!

  2. Tim McMahon says:

    Have you tried Club Correos? I’ve heard that you can use Club Correos Del Ecuador to order stuff (like Amazon) from the States. They give you a Miami address which you give to the seller and then Club Correos charges you per pound to get it to you in EC. But I’ve not used it myself and my info may be out of date.

    I also looked at http://www.usabox.com/rates/ and they say a 1 lb package to EC via their cheapest method (DHL) is $29.60 if you use their no monthly fee option. But they will combine packages into one box for you (for free) so a 10 lb box doesn’t cost 10x as much “only” $81.46

    • Dyanne says:

      Thanks Tim, but no – I too have not tried Club Correos, as to be honest, I rarely find the need to order anything online. Plus… I’ve had a similar virtual mailbox which will likewise repackage stuff (as well as scan my stray snail mail, deposit checks,, etc.) for more than 5 years now and I can highly recommend it for all your snail mail needs (Virtual Post Mail for just $10 per month): http://www.travelnlass.com/2011/05/22/desperately-seeking-a-mail-forwarding-service/

      But as I said, I much prefer to try to adapt, buy local, etc. in the foreign countries I’ve opted to live, else… if I reeeeealy need something in particular (like my new Sony RX100 camera), I have a visiting friend tuck it in their baggage. Or… apparently there are now quite a few “mule” sites out there where you can pay a small fee (generally much lower than Club Correos, DHL, etc.) to have someone bring stuff in.

  3. Finding shoes for my 10 1/2 Bs was has been difficult all my life until New Balance appeared. Stopped having them shipped from the US after the quality went way down. I’m stuck with hard to find and poorly made 10 1/2 Ds. Most of my travel has been in countries where my size didn’t exist or the shoes were just as bad as here. I’m leaving soon for 5 weeks in Europe. You bet I’ll be shopping for some good shoes.
    fourletternerd kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Travel Whim Met RealityMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      So you can easily have stuff shipped there in Thailand, Bill? Here in Ecuador (as likewise when I lived in Vietnam), mailing anything in, is iffy at best and will generally get zapped with a fairly hefty import tax.

      But thanks for reminding me – I too am headed to Europe (the Balkans and Turkey) come Sept/Oct and you’re right – I think I’ll leave room in my backpack to pick up another pair or two of Tevas or some such to tote back here to Ecuador!

      • You’re welcome. The shoes I saw in Istanbul last year were both inexpensive and cheaply made. Good luck.

        Shipments to Thailand are rarely lost, though some go missing for a while. I’ve never had a problem. Duty ranges from token to you gotta want it bad. I’m fortunate I’ve not wanted anything that bad.
        fourletternerd kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Travel Whim Met RealityMy Profile

        • Dyanne says:

          “I’m fortunate I’ve not wanted anything that bad.”

          Yup Bill, I think that’s the key. In 5 years of expatting in Asia and here in S.A. – I’ve rarely had the need to have stuff shipped in – with the exception of renewed credit cards of course, but even those I can generally find someone visiting to “mule” it in.

  4. I didn’t know what Tevas were until I got to the bottom! I bought mine online from Cotton Traders.

    • Dyanne says:

      Really Viv? Teva is a well-know brand and I believe many stores sell them in France. But good that you can easily order them online. A major part of the dilemma here in Ecuador (as it was likewise was when I lived in Vietnam) – few online stores will ship here – and if they do, it’s not at all guaranteed they’ll arrive within this century! 😉

  5. Mark Richards says:

    I’ve been in Cuenca looking for Teva type sandals for a year and a half, no luck. I’ll try “Acción Sports” but I’m not convinced they’ll have any. I’d even go to Guayaquil or Salinas if that’s what it takes if it’s a sure thing. Harrumph. lol

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Mark, I think folks here in Cuenca think I’m nuts when I ask for “sandalias” – likely ‘cuz of the cool climate. No doubt more of a beach-town thing. Good luck in your quest!

  6. Penny Mercier says:

    Mexico is the third country where I have been laughed out of shoe stores! Mas mas grande! Haha! Yes, but I really need some shoes!! Finally found one, as in 1, pair that almost fit in Mexico City. Please sir, will you just stretch them so they will fit? Why, yes madam, I will. He did and they do! Thank all the Gods! I will try ordering my next pair through Amazon and see if they can actually get them delivered!

    • Dyanne says:

      Yay for the Zapato Gods! Glad you found some shoes to fit, Penny. Sadly, the mail system here in Ecuador leaves a good bit to be desired, and I’m not even sure Amazon will ship here. Most folks rely on “muling” stuff in when folks come down from the States.

  7. Ted says:

    You’re streets ahead me. I did pick up a pair of sandals in Pamplona last summer, but decided not to keep them and have regreted it ever since – never mind, maybe I’ll find something similar this year.
    Ted kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Bagno A RipoliMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Ted, when it’s rare to find an item you need, it’s always best to grab it while you can and treasure it.

      Indeed, when I found those *only* two halfway satisfactory shoes in Cuenca nearly two years ago – at first, I couldn’t decide which I should buy. But in the end – I came to my (expat) senses and… I bought BOTH of them – for the simple reason that I might never find another remotely satisfactory pair for YEARS to come!

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