When you move to Southeast Asia with nothing but the contents of a couple suitcases, you learn to become exceedingly strategic about the contents of those suitcases.
It's a well-known fact that Westerners often have trouble purchasing shoes in Asia because of our generally larger feet. That's not a problem that really affects Angel and I, because neither of us have particularly large feet, so our sizes are available here, but that still leaves us with the problem that, while inexpensive shoes are widely available, they are generally of poor quality.
Our lifestyle here means that our shoes take a beating. We walk to the grocery store, to church, to the park, to the metro station--because of our lack of a car, we walk everywhere. This makes comfortable shoes a necessity, and durable shoes that are worth their space and weight in a suitcase because they won't break after a couple months are very much desired. The climate where we live is hot and humid most of the year, which causes us to rebel against any form of shoes that enclose our feet and require socks. This heat and humidity also means that if your feet sweat at all, shoes are even more likely to become smelly than they already are by nature of being shoes. Sidewalks here don't tend to be very clean, and if we happen to be out walking and get caught in a downpour, we've noticed that the road drains can't keep up with the volume of water, which leave us wading through an impromptu stream. Because of this factor--shoes that can be washed are quickly becoming a priority!
Given all of these factors of our new lifestyle: Enter Chacos!
I know there are plenty of die-hard Chaco fans out there, and others who think it's ridiculous to spend nearly $100 on a pair of sandals. I'd never even heard of them when we got married, but Angel already had a pair, and bought me one for our 2nd summer together. He got a 2nd pair last fall because he planned on spending most of his future life wearing Chacos and wanted another color option.
That means, in the photo above: one of the shoes was purchased in 2009, one was purchased in 2012, and one was purchased in 2013. It's not easy to tell by the wear which of the shoes is the oldest, is it?
And yet these sandals haven't sat in a closet for years. They've been worn caving in Malaysia, kayaking in Minnesota and Texas, walking into Lake Huron in north Michigan, climbing trails in Hawaii, and most recently, over miles and miles of Chinese sidewalks.
I fully admit that I'm a cheapskate. And I'm no brand-lover. But I've had enough experiences with cheap shoes spontaneously disintegrating to be highly impressed by shoes that are indestructible, comfortable, and washable.
Yeah, it's a pricey sandal, but in our very scientific experiments, it appears that even after 5 years of regular wear, you can expect your Chacos to be in very usable, even nearly-new condition, and that impresses me. If you're in the market for long-lasting pair of shoes that are ideal in hot climates, Chacos are it!
If you're a long standing fan, where have your worn your Chacos? If you're not, what would it take to convince you?