|When I began planning this journey, one of my main concerns were the shoes. I have a very tall and large body but I figured I could probably find clothes without much of a problem. But I knew shoes would be another story. Even in Canada, there weren't that many places where I could find shoes my size (US/Canada size 14, width 4E)... and I sure know there are lots of variations between brands... so even if a shoe is labeled 14/4E... it doesn't mean it will fit my huge feet. Normally, I would stick to one brand and I would normally order it online to skip the ordering/delivery delay at the local shop (because they never hold these sizes in store).|
So, knowing I would lose
this imperfect but workable solution by hitting the road did cause me
some worries. After all, shoes are more important than clothes when
you're traveling: you can wear a t-shirt or a jean with whole in
them... but shoes not really, at least not for long.
In my initial stages of
planning, I thought about walking all over the world and I would have
seek a sponsorship from the maker of the shoes I use most. In
exchange for their shoes, I would have given them data research on
the wear of their shoes. But about 6 months before departure, I
decided not to walk it... but use buses and trains. I thus didn't
see a need for a sponsorship since I wouldn't have anything to give
them in return. I told myself “Well, I'll go through every capital
of the world, I'm sure I can find shoes in them” and I put aside
room in my imaginary luggage for a second pair of shoes.
I left Montreal with only
one pair of shoes... the ones in my feet. But they were brand new.
Being from a very good brand, I knew they would last me a while.
Normally, they last me a year. I estimated with the intense use of
my travelling, they would probably last me 6 months. Six months
after my departure, I'd be in Mexico City, a city of 22 millions
people... so I didn't see any problem.
My shoes lasted me about 3
months... and by the time I reached El Paso, in Texas, it was time to
get new ones... especially since I didn't really know what to expect
on the other side of the border. I couldn't find my trusted brand in
local stores (they don't carry my size in stores there neither)...
and I couldn't order online because of my moving status. I had a
first glimpse of the potential problems.
In El Paso, I was able to
find a first pair of cheap running shoes in the world's largest
retailer. But those didn't last 3 days before the sole began to
unglue! I return to find another model. I bought one pair... and
they seemed more sturdy. After a few days of trial, I decided to go
get a second pair... and so I entered Mexico with an extra pair of
shoes in my luggage. I was also lucky to find a pair of sandals.
My $15 shoes have done well...
they lasted 3 months and died of wear-out while I was in Mexico City.
I kept their laces in memory (and for possible other uses). But
then I began to use my last pair of shoes. “No worry, I'm sure I
can find some here in Mexico City”, I kept telling myself. After
all, Mexico City with its 22 million people is the largest city in
the Americas! Even if Mexicans have normally smaller feet, there has
to be 0.0001% of the population with large feet, plus the expats
living in here.
So, with that good logic
in mind, I began my hunt for shoes in the megapolis. After 5 days of
intense searching... asking in sales persons from at least 25 stores,
plus many contacts online... not only no store I visited had anything
close to my size (the norm in Mexico is size 8 or 9... I rarely saw
size 12) but no one knew if I could find such size in any store in
the city! Many suggested me to order online. But to order online,
I'd have to have a good idea of what size I needed. To do that, I'd
first have to physically try at least a few pairs of Mexican-size
shoes to see for example if a size 32 is what I need... or if it's a
size 35. What about the width? And the differences between brands?
No, that was not possible for me to order online.
If I couldn't find shoes
in a 22 million city... I let you guess what are my chances of
finding any in other national capitals 10 or 20 times smaller than
So, while wearing my only
pair of shoes left, I began to be very worried about the future of my
footwear. After many thoughts and more research, I concluded the
only solution was to order a pair from a friend. I have friends in
Canada and in Europe who would help me in that. But ordering from
Europe caused the same problems I had ordering from Mexico (size,
width, model variations, etc). So, I had to order online from
Canada. Of course, I then have to rely on my trusted brand. It's
expensive, but it's reliable.
Box received from my friend in Canada.
As most other Canadian
retailers, they don't ship outside Canada... so I had the shoes
shipped to a friend in Montreal. My shoes were bought from a
boutique in Vancouver. After he received the shoes, I had to provide
him with a shipping address in Mexico. So, I booked my room one
month ahead (which I never do in Mexico) and asked the owner if I
could have something shipped to him. Due to that online booking
ahead of time, I paid more for my lodging that I would normally...
but I didn't have a choice.
So, my friend mailed me
the shoes. Surprisingly it arrived quite fast... just a bit more
than a week after leaving Montreal! That stunned me and all my
Mexican friends. I was hoping for a 2-3 weeks delay (secretly I was
just hoping for them to arrive), but I was preparing myself to the
eventuality I would need to stay longer in that city waiting for my
shoes. I explored various options for the shipping... of course the
courier option was faster and safer... but SO much expensive (almost
triple the postal service).
So, here's the detail of
the cost of these shoes.
Online price: $149
GST (taxes): $7,50
Shipping within Canada:
Total price of the shoes
if I would have been in Montreal: $156,50.
Price for my friend to
ship me the shoes by air postal service: $105
Indirect cost of more
expensive housing for city of Campeche: $60
This is by far the most
expensive pair of shoes I ever bought. I can live for two weeks in
Mexico with that amount!
Map of the 8300 km done by my shoes from the store to reach me!
I cannot afford such
expense every 3 months. So, I will make the switch to sandals most
of the time (now that I'm mostly at sea level, it will be warmer) and
will try to find a local leather worker to make me sandals when my
current ones will arrive to the end of their life. If all goes well,
I should need only one pair of shoes per year, or perhaps two within
a single shipment. Another reason to look forward to reach Europe