When it rains, it pours...everyday part 2

Trip Start Jan 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Saturday, September 8, 2007

Costa Rican women love their shoes. And I mean LOVE in a way that even my college roommate, who must own at least ten pairs of cowboy boots alone, wouldnīt understand. These women are obsessed with shoes on a totally different level then American women. Weīre talking Sex in the City meets In Her Shoes meets the aggression of those people who get up at 5 am to be the first one inside Target the day after Thanksgiving. Ticas LOVE shoes. And not just any shoes, they mostly favor those shoes that if I wore them even under the best of circumstances, I would fall and die or at least break my ankle. Who know the kind - really really high with heels that come down into an impossibly small point and give excruciating blisters. And these women totter around in these shoes on rutted roads holding a baby in one hand, dragging along a toddler with the other, and shaking their their butts in a seductive way that only Latin women can pull off. Even in their own homes they see no reason to kick off the torture devices. I had a very "Leave it to Beaver" moment yesterday when I walked in my house for lunch and there was Jessica, my host sister, mopping the floor in a poka dot halter tank top, neon green shorts, and strappy heels. She looked up grinning and said, "Hola, Lacey," just like any other day. I decided not to say anything about the footwear.

In the past eight months (yes, itīs been eight months already!) the Tica Shoe Obsession hasnīt really played much of a role in my life. Recently, however, Teacher has made a major fashion faux pau! You see, when I get up in the morning and think about what to wear on my feet, I think ok, flipflops, flats, or walking shoes? When Ticas get up in the morning they think, hhhmmmm, stilettos, platforms, or wedges? When I see that during a rainstorm the roads become rivers and after a rain they become mud slides with what some would call puddles, but what I would call mini-lakes, I think I need to get some boots. The Ticas think that Iīve suddenly gone soft in the head.

It all started after I wrote my last entry and just got so sick of mudsplattered pants. My kids have been wearing these big black rainboots all year, and they seem so practical and not that ugly at all. So I casually mentioned to my family that I was going to buy myself a pair of these boots when I next went to Cartago. They laughed, thinking that I was joking. A woman over ten wearing rain boots?! Ridiculous! When I assured them that I was in fact serious, Jessica just looked at me and said that women donīt wear boots, only the kids and men. Thinking that this would be great fodder for discussion in one of my womenīs studies classes (a modern binding of the feet, perhaps? Men allowed to splash around the campo in boots while women are forced to totter around on crippling heels...), I ran the idea by Sandra. She just looked at me. Mario slapped me on the back and laughingly told me to look at the Cartago mercado. So, not to be detered, I did and found a great pair of black rainboots that come up about midcalf. On Monday I proudly splashed along the road to school. What freedom! What relief! How nice not to have to dodge the lakes and worry how my school flats are doing on the rocks and if my pants have been splattered. How fabulous was this liberating walk to school!

But when my students saw my feet, only some of them dared to ask what I was wearing. The others just stared in wonder. The older girls giggled. One first grade boy held is foot next to mine, looked up at me part with worry and part with pride that we had the same shoes. My fourth grade, always quick to compliment me on any changes I make to my person, pronounced them "lindo, Teacher." Mario exclaimed in surprise that I had actually gone through with my plan to buy my boots, but then went on a ten minute speech on how these were practical shoes and how all women should get them. They are made of rubber! They have traction! They are inexpensive! Sandra said that they werenīt that bad and how much were they again? Magaly, the kinder teacher and Queen of the tottering shoes, asked if they had similar ones but with a nice wedge heel. I said I didnīt know, but that she could go see. They had a lot of stuff in the back.

So, just like with my hair cut, my boots have become a conversation piece in town. Are they comfortable, Teacher? They donīt feel too heavy? Gosh, youīre feet are big, Teacher! And though the purchase of my rainboots (which has turned out to be quite a gender transgression) hasnīt had quite the same support as the chopping off of my hair, I still do have some supporters. And who knows, when I get back to town this week, maybe there will be other boot-clad women stomping around. Or maybe not.
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