How much time should a person spend researching footwear before they throw in the towel and slowly type in the inevitable URL: c-h-a-c-o-s?
I spent about four months. Surely, I thought, there must be a better option. I was determined to find it.
Toms? The sole was gone before I wore them out of the house.
Birkenstocks? You can't get them wet.
Flip flops? It's not realistic to walk around all day on a piece of foam.
Despite what seemed to be an unlimited determination that there was something else "cuter" out there, all signs pointed to Chacos as the perfect travel sandal. So, why the aversion to this pretty little thing?
The truth is, I had a pair of Chacos when I was in college and they were the best. I hiked all over the Rocky Mountains, Canyonlands, Yosemite, and Europe in them. I loved them and I would not consider wearing anything else. I also didn't own a skirt or a dress until I was 23. I wore only clothes that placed ads in Climbing magazine or that I could sleep in. Hashtag college, I guess.
But then, after discovering fashion when living in Spain, and spending most of my college savings on classy-trashy clothes in Europe, I quickly kicked my beat up Chacos under the bed. They wouldn't let me into Kapital wearing those old things.
And now I equate Chacos to those things sitting in the bathtub "airing out" every night (ahem, Spencer).
I still love these sandals, but I'm afraid. When I put them on will I also find myself wearing a toe-ring? Will I end up in a pair of drawstring Prana khakis, a bandana, and an old Capeliene t-shirt? Will my eyebrow ring reappear? I guess that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, would it?
I've just come so far, you know? I don't want to forget all of the important rules on how to look cool.
When I lived in Madrid 12 years ago, a new word was starting to pop up in the Spanish vocabulary. "Vegetariana." Back then, it translated most closely to "vegetable," but it was the best word available for some one in my situation; vegetarian.
In Mexico and Central America especially, I shudder when I ask the question. "Tienes comida vegetariana? No como carne." I say it in a quiet voice, with a smile. I don't eat meat. And then, the next question always requires the same response. "No, I don't eat chicken either." And then, "or fish. But I eat eggs! And cheese!" As if that should make my host feel better. I'll eat some of it. But not all of it.
Sometimes I end up with a completely rad meal (like desayuno tipico in Guatemala, I could eat this every meal, every day) and sometimes I end up with an avocado.
I know that traditionally, Latin American cuisine is very animal-protein focused. I know that in a lot of cultures, eating meat is considered to be a luxury. I would never try to talk a person out of their habits, I always try to stay quiet if a conversation leads to eating animals, I want to show respect for the place I am living. But I'm not going to partake in it. To put it lightly, it's not my thing and it never will be. Why? I don't like the taste. I don't like the thought of eating something that could wink at me, and I don't like the way animals are treated when they are raised as food. To start. Also that whole thing about allocating 27% of the world's livable surface for cattle doesn't seem smart or sustainable. And we don't actually need to eat it. Ok, I'm done! That's my pitch or gripe or whatever.
This started when I was like four years old and our neighbor showed me a fish that she'd been keeping in her freezer. "It's going to be dinner," she said. Oh my gosh, the horror. Wasn't fish supposed to come in a nugget form? What on earth was chicken then?
Eating vegetarian in other countries has mostly been incredibly easy. If you enjoy trying new things like papusas, elote, tamales, yucca, and plantains, life is good. If you love to experiment with different salsas, it's even better. And if you know some one who loves to cook almost as much as they love to go mountain biking, life is the best.
Spencer plans to take a few cooking classes along the way in different places we're staying. We're bringing a good amount of kitchen equipment down with us so that we can find food at the markets to cook at home. I'm so excited to see what new foods and flavors we discover over the next year. Stay tuned - there might be some favorite recipes posted here in the future!