Thursday, March 31, 2011

No walk in the park

Havaianas
Portuguese for Hawaiians
Brazilian for flip-flops

Apparently they're taking the fashion world by storm and are currently the 'must-have' item of footwear for celebs around the world. Well, never one to miss out on a passing bandwagon, I went out last week and bought myself a pair. Admittedly, it was less to do with a desire to position myself on the cutting edge of style and more to do with the fact that one of my sandals decided to separate into two parts while I was half a mile from home and I needed a cheap and easily-obtainable replacement.

Anyway, out here, Havaianas are not so much fashionable as ubiquitous. You will find them supporting everything from the most expensively pedicured, nail-varnished and tattooed feet in the city to the filthy, cracked and calloused specimens of the catadores (rubbish collectors). And when I say 'supporting' I use the word in its most generous sense because there is, of course, no support there whatsoever. Just a little bit of friction between two uncomfortably stretched toes - friction which rapidly vanishes when it rains, I might add. And as it rains pretty much without warning out here, foot and flip-flop can quickly become separated.

My flip-flops and my body double - much cuter toes than me!
They're also no use when attempting that common paulistano pastime - trying to cross the road. When you have to navigate an eight-lane dual-carriageway just to get to the shops, it's nice to be able to put on a sudden burst of speed when the pedestrian phase abandons you mid-crossing. Believe me, when this happens, a flip-flop is not your friend - even one that can take the fashion world by storm.

Also, personal experience (somewhat brief but visually entertaining) has demonstrated that Havaianas are clearly not an accessory recommended for use with a skateboard. There is some debate within family circles as to whether the Havaianas actually made much of a difference at all, but I still maintain that my fakie switch 360 shuvit was way crazy insane. Anyway, moving swiftly on...

This is how you do it, Dad!
One area in which Havaianas do excel however is design. Not content with simply offering their customer a varied selection of colours, they have perfected the art of flip-flop... well, art. It is now possible to precariously balance your feet on top of literally hundreds of possible colours, designs, patterns, images, logos or photos. I've even been to a children's party where one of the activities was designing and colouring your own pair. Of course, given that the primary function of your new artwork is to be trodden on and covered up by your feet, it's perhaps not the best way to publicly display your individuality. They do look nice displayed on the wall however so maybe the point is to hang them up somewhere when you get in.

Sadly, I was unable to pander to my more flamboyant side when I went to buy mine as I was in something of a hurry and was forced to take my pick from the rather lacklustre selection they had on offer in Lojas Americanas (something like Woolworth's). I went for a nice blue/green combo with some arty wording on them. I'm not exactly sure what it says as it's in an unhelpfully squashed font but Helen assures me the second word is paradise. The first one though, is beyond us, except that it definitely ends in 'poo'.

So now I have a good solid pair of Poo Paradise flip-flops. I can't run in them, I can't skateboard in them, I can't keep them on when it rains and I can't display them to full advantage without taking them off first. But at least I can walk in them, which is more than can be said for my old sandals. Also, simply by slipping them onto my feet I can now pass for Brazilian - really, just like that!

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