All Sizes Are Not Created Equal, or Why Tall Men Should Never Lose Their Luggage in South America

Three summers ago, I had the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream and make a trip to South America. In particular, I made my way to Rio De Janeiro and Panama City, Panama. I was particularly pleased with my budgeting, both financially and fiscally; somehow I had arranged a layover in Panama that would give me enough time to experience some of the nightlife on the weekend, and still make a flight to Rio without spending any extra money.

But there’s this saying about the best laid plans of mice and men that is unfortunately accurate. While my trip to Panama went off without a hitch, when I arrived in Rio, my luggage was in Lima, Peru.

Now, if you travel often, lost luggage is a bit of an unavoidable reality. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world, especially in a tropical climate like Brazil.

Unless of course, you happen to be there during an unseasonable week-long rainstorm.

And your hotel overbooks itself, leaving you with no place to stay for the first 3 days.

Then, yes, lost luggage can be a problem. But, the American dollar hadn’t completely collapsed at the time, so I figured finding affordable clothing shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

Then I went shopping.

Have you ever be in the midst of an environment for a while, and completely miss an obvious detail, until its made painfully obvious to you? I am fully aware that I am bigger than the average person, both in height and weight. But average isn’t as objective a term as I once thought. Sizes in Brazil tend to be somewhat smaller than I thought was even feasible. But then, the average Brazilian man that I saw in Rio was well under 6′, and well under 200lbs. Literally, in my entire stay, I encountered 3 people taller than me, and they were all foreigners. A XXL would roughly transfer to being a large shirt in the States. As a result, my shopping was interesting, to say the least.

However, the people of Rio were uniformly kind and considerate, so despite not being able to speak more than basic Portuguese, and being called “The Giant” on more than one occasion, I was able to find some clothing that fit. Sort of. But more importantly, I was led to places and experiences that I would have never had had I NOT been on a hunt for clothes that fit. My friend Fabio, whom I met at a local sporting goods store introduced me to favela funk parties. Larissa, whom I met while trying on pants that worked far better as shorts, introduced me to a little hostel owned by her cousin that became my base of operations during my stay.

In short, my horror story turned into a rollicking travelogue, filled with music, acai con granola, and the strongest of vodkas.

All because I couldn’t find a pair of pants that fit.

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