#39 Chaco Tanlines
This post comes to us from Cissy, a former Peace Corps Volunteer who now works for Kiva.
Chaco tanlines. The true mark of a hardcore expat field worker. With a 50% discount given to Peace Corps Volunteers, owning a pair of Chacos is practically a requirement for those based in tropical climates. A Chaco tanline separates the Expat Aid Workers that sit in air conditioned offices in the country capital from those that are out in the community getting dirty with the locals.
When community-based EAWs congregate, it is natural for them to compare and judge each other’s level of commitment to helping the poor by each others’ Chaco tanlines. Along with depth of contrast in the tanlines, another way to determine how hard an Expat Aid Worker works is the condition of their Chacos and feet. If an EAW has a deep tanline, but spotless Chacos and no dirt stuck under their toenails, this raises a red flag. They may be spending a lot of time outside, but not necessarily getting dirty at the farm and in the market with the locals. The more pairs of Chacos you go through, the stronger your devotion to poverty alleviation.
Along with the tanline badge of courage, Chacos also provide a way to be “fashionable” in the field. The numerous models and designs provide Expat Aid Workers with conversations that leave room for moasting, such as, “Wow – haven’t seen that pattern yet – are those new?” Response: “Yeah, I wore through my old pair in only 3 months – can you believe it?! The 4 hour roundtrip treks on my mountain bike to the farms to help the villagers plant seeds really takes its toll. This style and design just came out – not many people have them yet.”