Friday, April 29, 2016

Antigua, Guatemala: On Shoes and Tourist Traps

These are the shoes I brought with me to Antigua. When I laid them all out, snapped the pic, then looked at it, I thought, sheesh, did I really bring five pairs of shoes with me?

Well, see here, I'm not going to explain myself [erm, because I did that here].  I still brought only a carry-on bag and they all fit (and I wore the boots on the plane).

Besides, the topic of today's post is what shoes you wear and don't wear on the streets of a place like Antigua.

From my experiences in Caucasus Georgia, Ethiopia, and other places, I knew all about the slippery slopes of cobblestone streets, the uneven pavements, the precipitous curbs, and the surprise holes in the ground.

First thing to notice about all of the shoes, with the exception of the flip-flops, is that NONE are open-toed shoes. This is because if you wear open-toed shoes in Antigua - I don't care how much you paid for your urban-mountain-arctic-walking sandals - you will stub your toes on something. This will fucking hurt. I only have the flip-flops with me to wear at mi casa.

The pair of shoes below are perfect for street protection and comfort:

It has soles that grip the surfaces, and the body of the shoes are flexible enough to mold your foot comfortably amidst the round stones and little jutting triangles of not-so-rotund cobblestones. The soles are also thick enough to absorb pointy edges on the surfaces. There is adequate arch support.

The boots below are also quite good for the street, but they aren't as versatile in what I can wear with them. Plus they're better for cooler weather.  Yes, I see they are rather dusty in this photo, but I shine them up when I wear them.

Enough of the individual-shoe critique; you get the idea.

Let's get to the enemy you'll be up against - the Antiguan tourist trap - which manifests in various guises.

First up is a three-fer:
  1. Uneven surface
  2. Sudden smooth surface right next to a textured surface
  3. Gap in the pavement
Antigua - walking peril #1

Cobblestones. So picturesque, so quaint, so slippery.

Antigua - walking peril #2

Serious drop-offs from the so-called sidewalk to the street.

Antigua - walking peril #3

Again, different surface frictions. Those tiny height changes between the round manhole and the cobblestones.

Antigua - walking peril #4

OK, here we go. Padlocks! Hasps! Holes! Cracks! Slippery surfaces. Edges of metal straps!

Antigua - walking peril #5

And while you're watching where you put your feet, you'd better also look up and ahead because .....

Antigua - walking peril #6

... Fuckity-fuck. That would really hurt.

But still, nothing compares to the Ethiopian tourist trap:

"Ethiopian tourist trap" - pavement under construction


Julie said...

Great post! Costa Rica has those same hazards - we had a running joke that one of us would fall on each trip. I finally got booties that gripped my ankles (I was always turned them), and non-skid soles (slick tile sidewalks were common - especially bad in the rain).

Mzuri said...

Thank you! Those booties sound promising - can you point me to an image?

Julie said...

(they're expensive :-\ )

Mzuri said...

Aiee, yes they are! But the design gives me some guidance for possible ideas in the future. Thank you!