Worn Out Shoes

By Ammi

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”.     


I’m a mother of four children who through perseverance, studies and improvement managed to improve her environment and I have learned that every effort is rewarded and knowledge is shared. For me there is nothing more important than freedom and especially that which is capable of breaking personal limits. I am considered a cheerful, enthusiastic, curious person, willing to learn from each new experience.

3 thoughts on “Worn Out Shoes

  • Thank you Moses for explaining to the Castro sycophants that it does not suffice to endeavor to excuse the Castro regime and the consequences of its actions, by repeated claims that matters are possibly even worse elsewhere.

    The reality is that the Castro regime has succeeded in making what could be a silk purse, into a sow’s ear.

  • “Without seeing me, he shouts all the way down Obispo: “COBBLERRRRRRRR”.”

    Now there is one occupation that is unheard of and practically non-existent in most Westernized countries. Certainly in Canada, that I am aware of, no such occupation exists outside of perhaps major urban centers.

    We live in such extravagant throw away society that anyone encountering the desperate plight Ammi has had to undergo would simply throw the holed shoes away and immediately purchase a new pair. More often, the person with the holed shoes has more than one pair and would simply toss the older, worn shoes for another newer pair among the many sitting at home. No-one would even consider bringing a pair of worn shoes to a cobbler even if a cobbler existed.

    As Ammi experienced she went to her shoe cobbler and had her shoes repaired. Good for her. How many cobbler’s are there in the villages, towns, cities in Cuba?

    In my experience, I have seen many on city street corners, in alley ways all with mountains of leather goods piled high near their black Singer sewing machine be they shoes, purses, luggage any thing made of leather requiring a stitch. The hard working local cobbler is accessible and extremely valuable to all Cubans as Ammi has experienced.

    Another anomaly that is non-existent in Western countries but prevalent in Cuba is the man, it usually is a man, sitting on a home made wooden stool with a small table in front of him either repairing BIC lighters and/or topping up the empty lighters with lighter fluid.

    Where do you see that in Canada? Obviously in our disposable society the BIC lighter is simply tossed out, usually on the street, and a new one is purchased. How many lighter repair persons are there in Cuba? I am sure every village, town and city has them in copious numbers. For the average Cuban, they provide a valuable service.

    Ammi’s article highlights the horrendous inequality that exists in the world and that those on the prosperous side of the equity equation need to be thankful and grateful for our abundance, and if and when possible provide any help to those less fortunate, just like Ammi’s friend from Europe who donated a pair of shoes to her.

    Situations like this are ample evidence that visitors from well off Western countries need to keep visiting Cuba and helping the ordinary Cuban however they can.

  • I recognize that Cuba is not alone in the poverty of its citizens. There are today, more than ever due to the pandemic, many countries all over the world with a large number of its citizens facing energy shortages, food insecurity, and increasing crime. This includes the United States. My constant criticism of the economic malaise in Cuba is because in Cuba most of the problems are self-inflicted. The writer of this article needs new shoes. All over the world lots of people need new shoes. The problem in Cuba is that there are sufficient economic and scientific and natural resources in Cuba to transform the country into a prosperous and growing economy. Its the Castro regime and the self-imposed limits they have placed on the economy that causes most of their problems. If Haiti had just half of what Cuba has to offer, just imagine the prosperity they would enjoy. Its a shame the writer faces this economic struggle. Its a bigger shame that the Castros are the reason for it.

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