HAVANA TIMES – I was sitting in Havana’s La Rampa, losing myself in the steps of every passer-by and every unknown and abstract thought that passes by with each step.
I crossed my legs instinctively and… What a surprise! I was taken aback by a huge hole in the sole of one of my shoes. I can’t really complain too much, I’ve had them for over a year, a friend brought them over from Europe and gave them to me for my 30th birthday.
To tell you the truth, they are the only pair of shoes I have left and they are already suffering. I had 20 CUC in my purse and I had thought before: what can I buy with my small fortune to take home? But this unexpected situation has changed my plans. “I need a new pair of shoes.”
I can tell you my life became an Olympic battle from that moment onwards. I went to every store along the way from Vedado to Old Havana and every time I tried to buy a pair, something happened that you’d think was me being extravagant or over the top, but it’s not true.
I found a pair about to break in the foreign currency store, they were scuffed up and almost nobody was buying because prices were so expensive. The sales assistants warned me they didn’t come with a guarantee and that it was better not to buy them.
Last but not least, the real icing on the cake, was that I came across a counter with shoes for 18 CUC and I was just beginning to think I had something decent on my feet when I was left speechless seeing that they didn’t have a pair of the same size, which was clearly visible.
I almost broke down into tears, thinking about how many days I still have to walk all over my Havana… All the lines, all of the times I’m forced to go outside and bring home the things I need… and that’s when a lightbulb switched on and I remembered Andres, the cobbler on Obispo street, and I picked up my pace.
Without seeing the puddles of dirty water, that seep into my shoe through this small cut, I see Andres like a doctor who will save your life. I’m almost there and he’s sitting in the doorway. Without seeing me, he shouts all the way down Obispo: “COBBLERRRRRRRR”.