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#39 Chaco Tanlines

March 28, 2011

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.

Chalk up some field cred with Chaco tan lines...

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.”

26 Comments leave one →
  1. wdave permalink
    March 28, 2011 6:50 am

    Because nothing says “I’m down with poor people” like $100 sandals.

  2. March 28, 2011 7:21 am

    Shit, I just bought a pair of havianas….i’m obviously behind on my EAW fashion!

  3. Fritzerland permalink
    March 28, 2011 7:35 am

    love it! too true…

  4. dude permalink
    March 28, 2011 10:13 am

    Nothin says EAW fashion like tan lines and hairy ankles.

  5. Seb permalink
    March 28, 2011 11:12 am

    Oh, PCVs are cute little munchkins.

  6. Brice permalink
    March 28, 2011 3:58 pm

    1 Tour in the Peace Corps, 2 Pairs of Chacos.

  7. March 29, 2011 12:16 pm

    1 Tour in the Peace Corps, 1 pair of Chaco… I lost one on a hike down in Krabi, Thailand when I had to ditch the shoes to scale a wall. I put a bottle of liquor on the person who could find the sandal. VICTORY and a bottle of liquor for my friend. My beloved Chaco made its way to me.

    I did however, take advantage of the discount upon returning.

    • wdave permalink
      March 29, 2011 12:44 pm

      Oh wow, you’re pretty cool. Peace corps and backpacking through Thailand, you say? One is pretty impressive, but to experience two staples of EAW early adulthood defies comprehension. Add to that your boozy account of derring-do and you can consider my mind officially blown.

  8. Andrew W permalink
    March 29, 2011 4:03 pm

    What the fuck are Chacos?

  9. Danielle permalink
    March 30, 2011 2:10 pm

    Real EAW (at least of the Peace Corps variety) don’t have Chaco tanlines.

    They have dirt/tan lines from the shitty little flip flops mass-produced somewhere in Asia that all the locals wear. Tapettes, as they are known to PCVs in West Africa.

    • The Aunt permalink
      July 11, 2011 6:09 pm

      Une tapette = a camp homosexual, in French French. I wonder if this is part of it.

      Camp meaning with the mannerisms, not a homosexual who happens to live in a camp.

      Oh I’ll just stop there, shall I.

  10. Melissa permalink
    March 31, 2011 6:56 am

    Does it date me that the sandals of choice when I was in Peace Corps were Tevas? Though I (then and now) prefer Birks.

  11. April 1, 2011 4:22 am

    CISSY! Love it :) Awesome to see a familiar name on here; I’m catching up on the newest EAW stories while waiting for my repayment report to upload.

  12. pat permalink
    April 1, 2011 9:42 am

    Black Chacos double as dress shoes.

  13. April 5, 2011 8:05 am

    Are Peace Corps volunteers really considered to be EAWs??

    • Sarah permalink
      August 22, 2011 5:05 pm

      as a currently serving PCV, I’d have to say no and absolutely not. still love the blog though.

  14. Sue permalink
    April 6, 2011 1:44 pm

    I love it! Its so true. My tan lines lasted for 3 months after coming home.

  15. Minerva permalink
    April 24, 2011 12:09 am

    I’m with the Chaco haters. The degree of contrast on the Chaco tanlines of an EAW is inversely proportional to the amount of field cred they have.

    Note: This is coming from a former PCV who attended life-saving meetings in locally appropriate business dress attire and never owned a single pair of Chacos. ;)

    • oh well permalink
      October 24, 2012 3:12 am

      i’d love to hear more about how meetings save lives.

  16. July 18, 2011 4:15 am

    Do thong (aka flip flop) tan lines count as well?


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