“My momma always said there’s an awful lot you can tell about a person by his shoes. Where they go. Where they been,” said Forrest Gump. Can you believe that was over twenty years ago?
The words still hold true. A week ago I was strutting around in red suede stilettos. Today I am wearing hiking boots. I’m happy in either. I’m safer in the boots here in the San Bernardino mountains. Aside from the rattle snakes, I need the traction. Without it, the three big dogs would drag me down to the ground chasing the itty-bitty squirrels that scamper across our path on a regular basis.
Fortunately, I had the red shoes re-heeled just before departing Costa Rica. My favorite shoemaker, Noe, of Atenas, has served me well for the last four years – and always with a smile. On my third or fourth visit to his shop he told me a little secret. Because I speak Spanish, I get the “local” rate. It is common practice to charge double for gringos, especially if they have an attitude. He, personally, does not do this, but he knows of many ticos who do. We laughed about it and our rapport deepened.
I remembered the time I lost my receipt and he could not find my shoes. I left without them with instructions to return in two days. He looked and looked and simply could not find them. I looked and looked for my receipt with the number on it. It had disappeared, also. We established a ritual – I would stop in once a week to see if he found the shoes. Weeks turned into a month. Then two months. I resigned myself to the loss. It was my fault for losing the ticket.
One day, I was walking by his shop and he yelled out the window, “Carolina! Yo tengo sus zapatos!” with a big smile. Yes! He found the shoes. It had been so long, it was like getting a brand new pair of shoes for 1,500 colones ($3.00). We were both happy, there was no resentment on either side, and pura vida prevailed.
Before departing Costa Rica, I was on a mission to get my heels repaired, so in the middle of packing, I trekked into town to his shop. My jaw dropped when I arrived at the closed door! The shop was closed. Oh, no! What’s a girl to do?
And then I read the sign. Whew! Moved around the corner.
This time I would not lose my ticket, especially since I was moving to California in less than a week. I needed those red shoes. I would not leave the country without them.
Even though the sign said they were nearby, I could not find them. Luckily, the neighboring businesses saw me walking around with a pair of shoes in my hands looking distressed and confused. They directed me to the correct spot and their was my trusty shoemaker, smiling behind his new counter.
I plopped the red stilettos on the counter, he examined them, smiled and said to come back in fifteen minutes. Just enough time to have a cold beer and a serving of ceviche at Mejor Clima and not enough time to lose the ticket. The timing was perfect, Noe was ready with the shoes when I walked through the door and he didn’t even ask for the ticket. The bill was 1,500 colones ($3.00) and I was good to go.
I don’t like big goodbyes. I didn’t tell him I was leaving Costa Rica; I just said “hasta luego” (see you later).
So, here I am in the mountain community of Green Valley Lake walking dogs in hiking boots. The red stilettos are at the ready, but for now, I choose the boots.
Tomorrow? Who knows?
Maybe I’ll take the red shoes to San Francisco. Or they will take me!