Gabby's Entry #11

"His Shoes"

March 24, 2004

I spent the day in Santa Lucia, Santo Domingo today on the "coast" of Guatemala.  The "coast" simply means it's at sea level and therefore, hotter than a sumo wrestler's butt crack - and I ain't lyin'. 

I was with the group from Kirkwood, Missouri, and we were helping to build three houses for single women - Alba, Clara and Julia - in a place close to town with running water but no electricity; a place where we put the bars on the windows before we poured the floors.  We worked under the supervision of albaņiles, skilled workers, masons; they were very patient and very good that what they did and I had the pleasure of working with them for a few days.

His shoes were made of rubber.

They used to tie at the top but now the shoelaces are torn, insulted pieces of what they once were, now unused, hanging listlessly.  They used to keep the water out.  But now I can see his brown, dusty fee through the crack that has traveled from his ankle almost to his toes.  They don't look to comfortable but I see no pain in his face.

Does he have other shoes? 

I think -- maybe, no.   And if so, maybe only those he wears on special occasions - church services, birthdays, weddings.  Other days he just chooses to wear no shoes at all and lets the mud seep through his toes. 

But I bet his children have shoes.

Doesn't he want other shoes?  Probably.  But when given the choice of a pair of shoes or a meal for his family, he chooses wisely.

How hard does he have to work?  How many days to afford the $25 watch I am wearing?  Most likely a week.

So he wears no watch.

He just wakes up before dawn and knows it's time to go to work.  To live.  And hopefully, one day, to enjoy.

I met this man today.  His name is Marco.