"I think my shoe just broke."
I was walking around Sucre with Hey-There, whose real name is Heather, but the Bolivians can't seem to say Heather so she's become Hey-There. And my sandal was suddenly quite loose.
I stopped and looked down. The top strap had detached from the sole. Flop-flop. Crap.
Maybe I can get some flip-flops.
We passed a Bata shoestore, closed for New Year's Day. "Maybe tomorrow."
But then I had a thought. Maybe I could get it fixed.
"Zapateria repardo?" I queried the woman at the front desk at the hotel, butchering the Spanish language.
She gave me a map and marked two shoe repair places on it. And the next morning, Hey-There and I wandered up the street to the shoe repair guy. He'd just opened and he smiled as I barged in with a loud "Buenos Dias."
I showed him my broken sandal.
He spoke to me in Spanish way beyond my capabilities and then he pointed up the street.
Okay. We'll go up the street.
I asked him to mark the spot on the map, which he did. I tucked my sandal back under my arm—I'd figured a poor wee gringa with a broken sandal in plain sight would be more sympathetic than a gringa with a shoe in a bag—and off we went to the spot he'd marked on the map. One block up and one block over.
And there on the corner, in the sun, sat a man with an industrial sewing machine, surrounded by shoes.
I handed him my sandal. He punched a few holes in it and sewed it up with a needle and some cord. It took him about 40 seconds.