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My most expensive shoes ever
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2014-02-19 18:08:53 | Campeche, Campeche, Mexico
Keywords: budget, planning, shoes
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 Mexico City.

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: FREE
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
Total: $321

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 :-)

Related posts:
I'm back
Family lodging
Visa Run Guatemala – Mexico
Really worried sick...
Your wish list for Guatemala


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