One more night and I’ll be out of India; on my way to Italy. I’ve got a short stopover at Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport). A stopover I’m going to use wisely, because I’ve got a little big Dutch problem and Western Europe is one of the few areas where I can solve this problem.
See, the thing is I travel light. I’ve got one pair of flipflops and one pair of shoes with me. Most places I go to I never wear those shoes. I arrived here in India on them, kicked them in a corner of my room and this afternoon I was blowing the dust of to be able to wear them again tomorrow. They never left that corner. For me wearing shoes means the end of a journey and/or the beginning of a new one.
Walking on flipflops
The whole of October, November, December, January and February I’ve been walking around on my flipflops. Well; to be honest two pairs of flipflops did the job. One pair I bought in Nicaragua. I got lucky there and actually found one pair in shoe seize 46. For the Americans: I’m wearing seize 13. The flipflops lasted me for about two months on this trip. After that I had big holes in my heals. Of the flipflops that is. My mission to find a new pair took me to Agonda (no such a shoe seize), Patnem (same story) and finally Palolem. I ended up settling for a pair that was one seize to small, but at least I could walk again.
The hunt for shoes reminded me of one I did around this time last year. I worked on the yoga retreat of Petra Tomuta in Costa Rica. One day we went zip-lining through tree tops and abseiling through rivers. I wore my only pair of shoes. They didn’t appreciate being flooded and started to rot away bit by bit till the point they more looked like my flipflops than my flipflops. I tried to find a new pair in Nicaragua but every shop I walked in I was just laughed at. Having to do a visa-run to Costa Rica I estimated to have more luck in San Jose; Costa Rica’s capital and a pretty international city. I tried every shoe shop in the city center. To give you an idea: there are hundreds of shops and every third shop is a shoe shop. Walking in already made my hope sink lower and lower. Shoes all over the walls. Neatly organized seize by seize. Ending at the biggest seize available: 44. Asking won’t hurt, I’ve learned so that’s what I did. Only to be laughed at over and over again. And not just that: every shoe seller would take a long, interesting look at my feet as well. But they would leave a hopeful remark: “Maybe at the NIKE shop.”
After trying them all I set my last hope on the NIKE shop. As soon as I walked in I got doubts. Again walls filled with shoes. Again 44 as biggest seize. I gathered all my guts together and dropped the question: “Do you have shoes in seize 46 as well.” To my surprise the shoe seller said he had. If I would wait a few minutes he would get them for me. I wasn’t really sure if he just went to the back of the shop to laugh loudly; out of sight. Especially went minutes went by and he didn’t return. But finally he popped up again, holding on to four dusty boxes. All seize 46. All basketball shoes. Ugly basketball shoes. Very white and very colorful basketball shoes. I informed if he had anything else, but he shook his head. This was all. Just the basketball shoes. Non of them looked slightly normal. Non of them looked looked slightly as something I would wear under normal clothes of even with a surf shot. But did I had any choice? I needed shoes and here were the only four pair in the whole of San Jose. I tried all of them and decided to go for the most normal one: black shoes with a red sole and a big, white NIKE logo. They get me form A to B on planes, trains and in automobiles. When I arrive I kick them in a corner again. Only to come out when I’m leaving for a new adventure. Like tomorrow. But this time my adventure is leading me back to the Netherlands for a stopover so with a bit of luck I have time to by myself a new pair of shoes. Seize 46 and solve my little big Dutch problem.