Published on November 17th, 20142
What Do New Shoes, Mall Madness, Orchids and New Friends Have in Common?
I know, I know – Shopping Malls – the very antithesis of the Minimalist lifestyle. I believe it’s safe to say that I ABHOR them. And furthermore, I’ve (happily) managed to avoid the worst of them in my nomadic life abroad.
I needed new shoes – b.a.d.l.y.
And because I can’t wear any close-toed shoes, I was hell-bent on unearthing a facsimile of my beloved “Tevas” here in Ecuador (interestingly, the last pair I bought was on the island of BORNEO in Malaysia). I’d looked everywhere here in El Centro but found nothing but cr@p. Finally, I resigned myself (a die-hard “But I don’t DO malls”) to hopping on a bus out to Mall del Rio (9 months here in Cuenca and I’d never been there). Navigating the bus was easy enough (gotta love 12¢ a ride) but I was surprised it was so far from El Centro (more than 30 min.)
When I arrived I was utterly B.L.O.W.N. away! I hadn’t seen such a monstrous mall since I left Seattle 3 years ago. The plethora of shops seemed to stretch out FOREVER, and I hadn’t a clue as to where to even BEGIN. Nonetheless, I made my dizzying way through the crowds and landed in a shop called “Explorer” with lots of running shoes but precious few sports sandals (yes, yes, I know they sell them on the Ecuador coast – you know, at the BEACH, and we’re up here at 8,000+ feet, Dyanne – you know, where it’s C.O.L.D.) But of course, as a long-time Seattlite (where temps are arguably colder than here in the Andes), in the U.S. Pacific Northwest sandals with SOCKS are the year-round norm.
ANYWAY, wandering amid the boatloads of running shoes, I did spot a single pair of sandals (not quite as rugged as my Tevas, but still…) and I asked a sales lad if they had them in a size 8 or 9. Instant shake of head – nope, absolutely nada. Sigh… ;( So off I went – back into the sea of mall shops, traipsing in an out of every blessed shoe store for two solid hours. Payless, Pony, Marathon, Adidas, younameit. Nada. Nothing even close to what I needed.
Dejected, I took a break, inhaled a Subway, and took pics of the boatload of Christmas kitschery that lined the shelves at every turn (yeah, right – commercial xmas is only for those blasphemous folk up north).
Still… I was truly d.e.s.p.e.r.a.t.e. for some sort of new shoes, so I headed back to the first “Explorer” store. I looked again at the (only) open-toed sandal I’d asked about earlier, and… on a hunch, I asked a different sales person – this time a lass. “¿Tiene esto en un ocho o un nueve?” I repeated. Click, click, click on the computer, a nod of the head and a flip of her ebony hair and… she suddenly disappeared into the bowels of the shop. Heart verily THUNDERING in my chest, I waited…and hoped…
OMG! There she is, with not one, but TWO shoe boxes! Long story short? She found a size 8 in the sandals, and… another similar sandal-esque number (open but with a smidge of rubber toe cover and very sturdy) that fit perfectly! Needless to say… as I didn’t trust that I’d EVER find another pair of shoes in Cuenca to suit me – I bought BOTH pairs! (lol, ever the barterer, I even asked for a discount for buying 2 pairs – and they happily agreed!)
Thrilled. Deliriously happy with not one, but two pairs of new shoes, was I.
Ah, but that wasn’t even the BEST part of my adventure in the “Land of Stuff”. Nope, the very B.E.S.T. part was that after nabbing the shoes, I bumped into a pair of expat lasses (Jani and Debra) who pointed me to the most fabulous orchid show (just $2 entry), and we three strolled around gawking and taking photos of all the amazing orchids.
Debra and I each bought a delicate beauty to grace our apartments, and Jani (who lives in Paute with a garden – lucky lass) had earlier dug up WILD ORCHIDS on the (soon-to-be smothered in concrete) nearby future site of a gargantuan Sheraton Hotel. I mean, how kewl is THAT? (digging up wild orchids, NOT the erection of a new luxury monolith in Cuenca).
Our Retail Therapy thusly satiated (likely it will be 2016 before I again become desperate enough to need a return), we all hopped on a bus to escape the madness before we turned into Mall Zombies.