Friends...the time has come when I realized that I did not pack enough clothing to live in the ever-changing weather of Sao Paulo. One day it's 100 degrees and you're sweating nonstop, the next day it's a complete downpour, and the following day I'm wearing a winter coat. I swear, we have not had two days of consistent weather!
Inline with the sporadic climate change comes a demand for a variety of clothing. Like all travelers, the recommendation is to pack light, but I should have guessed that I would need more than two or three pairs of shorts while living here for a year. Now, shorts are not really popular here...most choose to keep their legs covered but I've tried, and well...when it's 100 degrees, I just can't manage to put on jeans anymore (especially when I'm walking a few miles everyday to and from class and then boarding a bloody hot bus to get to other classes). And when it's 100 degrees and you're sweating profusely, you simply cannot re-wear them for another day or two. So, you wash them, but we don't have dryers here so it takes a few days to dry (or more if you forget to take them out of the rain), and you wait. Long story short, I'm wearing them faster than I can clean them.
So, last weekend I decided it would be a good time to do a little shopping and pick up another pair of shorts or two.
What I thought would be a quick and enjoyable trip to the mall turned into a day of short-seeking disaster! But I also learned a very important life lesson. I should have put two and two together that shorts would be hard to come by since nobody wears them. There are two places on my block that sell them, but I was thinking it'd be nice to get out on the town a little bit and go to the mall and get some walking in...which was nice, but was a complete loss when it came to my objective: buying shorts! I literally walked into every single store in three different malls only to be rejected on nearly every level of the shopping experience.
1. Completely lost in translation as to what I wanted...I thought the word was actually "shorts"...some people say it in English...but really the more common word is "bermudas"...
2. A final understanding of what I wanted only to realize the store didn't have them and then I get the "oh you're not from here" question to which I must have had at least a dozen 10 minute conversations about what I'm doing here...good Portuguese practice but a time sucker!
3. The awkward looks when you ask for shorts correctly but the salesperson looks at you like most of us did at our television screens when Romney said he had "binders full of women" or when Obama was explaining to Romney that we don't fight wars anymore with "bayonets".
4. The occasional store that had shorts (and tried to sell them to me hard) but they were the ones with depends sewed into them with a scrunch waste, drawstrings, and went past my knees.
5. The other stores that had them but clearly were not fit for the American cheeseburger-style lower body. In some cases, the waste size was not the issue...it was the fact that I could not fit my calves, thighs, and butt into the leg hole!
6. The other stores that had them and fit, but when I got to asking the price, they were over $250 USD! Sao Paulo is beyond expensive in almost every category...shopping included but come on now...$250 for a pair of shorts?!
At this point in time, I'm realizing that I am in the 1% of Gringo shorts-buyers that have a store match and after 8 hours of searching and searching and searching...I decide to call it quits and head back home where I will reconstruct my gameplan to stay cool over the next month.
As I near home, I pass those two stores on my block that sell shorts and I decide to give it one last try before I'm done for good...and what do you know...I hit the shorts goldmine!!! Not only did I find them in my size and in good styles and color, they were also under $100 USD (not by much)...so I pulled the trigger!
As I headed home, I thought to myself...this is just one of the very small lessons that living here everyday has taught me about life. Sometimes we go way out of our ways, travel across the world, go beyond our limits, confuse and frustrate ourselves, only to realize that the best thing for us is right outside our back door. And when you realize that some of the best things in life are right under your nose, you'll start saving time and money and may reach your goal even quicker!
I hope that my shorts story was enlightening. Maybe you thought the life lesson was a little stretch, but I was thinking about that lesson every day since I bought them. I've found myself traveling the world for opportunities, struggling through adversity, seeking something on the grand stage...to come back to Cincinnati, Ohio...HOME...with the people I love and the community I'm fond of...where the opportunities are abundant and the network is supportive...where the things in life I didn't know had significant value to me (college football, skyline chili, my church on Sundays, etc.) were grossly underestimated in the pursuit of my life plan. Living in Brazil has taught me much...even that the pursuit of bermudas on a hot summer day can lead you to realize that the best things in life are right near home.