Destinations Magazine

¿Dónde Están Sus Zapatos?

By Landfall @landfallvoyages

In high school, my Spanish teacher teased me incessantly about my shoes—more specifically, the lack thereof. Every time I saw him, he’d pause with a grin on his face, shake his head a little in admonition and say, “¿Senorita Quan, dónde están sus zapatos?”

It’s not that I didn’t have any shoes, it’s just that I felt compelled to experience the earth beneath my feet as it truly was. The sheer delight of grass and clover springing up between my toes; the sharp bite of an unexpected bit of gravel in the rainwater puddled on broken asphalt; the cool uniformity of concrete by our lockers. It’s ironic, really, now that I have litttle sensation on the left side of my body–like somehow I was stocking up.

Steve came home the other day without his shoes. “Did they break already?” I asked, “Seems like we just got them.” It’s no big deal, really. I mean, we’re talking $4 flip-flops at WalMart. “No, they didn’t break, I gave them away,” he said. He was walking back to the boat, near the Kiosko, carrying home bags of groceries and came across an old man creeping along with his walker, back bent and bandages on his legs and feet. “¿Necesita zapatos?” Steve asked, “Sí,” the old man replied. So Steve went and gave him the shoes off his feet and then continued on home.

A little farther down the street, there’s a guy whose job is to stand in the street and drive customers into one of the more expensive restaurants in town. He’s a guy we see every day—you know him, but only to say hi and how’re you doing? “Hey man,” he yells out, giving Steve a hard time, “you forget your shoes, or what?” Steve told him what happened and the guy’s jaw well and truly dropped to the floor. “You give your shoes away to a total stranger?” “Sí,” Steve said, “he needed them way more than me.”

Last night, we’re all walking up to the Kiosko and it’s really late. Everybody’s out in the streets, sitting on the sidewalks in front of their houses, enjoying the cool night air, just savoring the last moments of the weekend. The family who owns a couple of video game/lottery machines made us stop and accept shots of tequila—even tried to get Eli to try some because, “¿Pues, él es joven, pero casi un hombre, ¿no?”” And they’re right…he’s a teenager, but he’s on the verge of manhood and everyone in this town treats him more like a man than a kid.

A block up the street, and it’s closing time at that expensive restaurant. Our huckster friend is getting into his truck to go home and he stops for a minute. “Amigo,” he booms, tired, happy to be getting home and I think also a little boozy, “You need anything, you just let me know. You need help, we help you. You need money, you need something for your family…anything you just let me know. You have a heart like a Mexican. Soon, you bring your family to my house and we cook for you. You a good man.”

And that would be reason #5,732 that I married my husband. He won’t hesitate to give the shoes off his feet to someone else who needs them more. Even when his own feet are already tired and hurting and he still has a long way to go.

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