“…Oh, and there’s this place in Quito that will custom make boots!”
As soon as Olga said that I perked up. We met Olga and her daughter while staying at Sacha Lodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon. They had spent some time in Quito and my husband and I were listening to their itinerary to get ideas of what to do during our couple days in Quito. But boots! Custom made!
It’s shoes, my friends. And when it comes to shoes I just melt into a blob.
The following day on the way to our hotel, I saw it:
Clearly, it was meant to be, since it was only a few blocks from our hotel in La Mariscal neighborhood of Quito. When Steve and I went inside a wave of the musky, leathery smell hit me in the face. Oh, this place smells yummy. I picked up a tan pair of boots. Nice quality and stitching, I noted to myself. There were cowboy boots, riding boots and fashionable ladies boots with heels of all heights. They were all simply lovely. Steve sat down, obviously uninterested in my shoe shopping. This happens all the time. Last time I went shoe shopping at Nordstrom, this happened:
An Ecuadorian woman and her husband began showing boots to me. Actually, not just showing them, but putting them in my hands, pulling one after another off the shelf and offering them to me while speaking Spanish, of course. They spoke no English and I spoke no Spanish. There was pointing and grabbing a lot of boots and then I found a pair I really liked–a low heel with a strap and buckle. I put them in the woman’s hands, pointed and nodded my head and said, “Sí!”
She then took me to the back room where there were remnants of all sorts of leather on a big table. Oh, she wants me to choose my color, I realized. There were many colors of tan, brown and even different shades of black. And then I saw it: Red
I have to have that red!
I nodded my head, pointed and said the one word I know perfectly in Spanish: “Si!”
Then before I could even leave the back room, the Ecuadorian man brought out a big paper tablet and pointed to pages that had foot outlines drawn on it. Oh, he wants to draw my footprint. Of course!
Wasting no time, I took off my shoes and socks and placed my foot on the paper where the man drew a line around my foot, then pulled out a measuring tape and measured my width, my instep, my ankle and my calves. So old school. So simple. Why can’t all my shoes be made this way?
¿Cuánto cuesta? I asked. (Okay, I also know how to ask how much something costs. I’m a seasoned shopper, no?)
Originally the woman had written down $180, but then the man pointed to my calves and said, “Grandé.”
Yes, my calves are grandé. You see, that’s the whole problem with me and boots. It’s the grandé calves, and that’s why I was here. But it turns out, having grandé means it costs more. $20 more.
They had me choose the style of my toe (pointed? round? squared?), choose the buckles out of a cardboard box and then I paid a deposit of $50 and from the sign language and my guess at Spanish, figured that it was going to take four days for the boots to be made. No problem, we were heading to the Andes and wouldn’t be back to Quito for seven days.
So for seven days and nights I dreamt about red boots.
On our last day in Ecuador we picked up the boots. They were displayed in the window when I arrived, and that made me secretly happy to know that others might have walked by with envy. I slipped on the boots and the leather was buttery. My foot fit perfectly inside and zzzzzziiiiip! It was easy. Not a struggle at all! And the boots weren’t cutting off my circulation. They felt divine. I purred inside like a kitten.
I now have red boots. Jealous y’all?
Here they are: Luis Arias, who made the boots, and his wife who so patiently helped me out in spite of my very lousy Spanish.
You, too, can get your own custom-made boots (for men as well as women).El Palacio de las Botas Españolas Reina Victoria E7-14 y Wilson Quito, Ecuador Telf: 2567 205 email: firstname.lastname@example.org They’re also on Facebook