What’s a girl to do when her only cute pair of sandals suddenly break and there’s not a Nordstrom’s to run to??? Well, she can go visit the guy at the Zapateria and , Voila! Her shoes are magically as good as new! You may be wondering what girl I’m talking about? Well, it’s me! You see, on Sunday I got dressed up in my best outfit, and I’ll tell you, I don’t have a Lot of “Outfits” these days (Our container that has yet to be shipped out here contains most of my clothes, I arrived in Panama with two suitcases!) . So my nicest pair of shoes, aside from my Crocs, are my cute little sandals. I really don’t wear them often and , as a matter of fact I don’t think I’ve worn them more than a couple of times since I bought them. And don’t ya know, they broke when I was at a lovely baby shower at my new friends house on Sunday. My knee-jerk reaction was to just throw them away, but then I remembered, hey, when will I find another pair of ‘cute’ sandals? And my friend said, “why don’t you take them to be fixed at the Zapateria?” Huh! What a great Idea! So today Scott and I had some errands to run and I asked my friend, Sarah, who owns one of the produce markets in town if she could tell me where I could get my shoes repaired. She and her husband told me exactly where to go, (in Spanish, and I actually understood, how cool is that !) , after purchasing our produce from her I made my way across town to the Zapateria while Scott went to pick up our mail at the Mailboxes Etc. I must admit that I’m often making a concerted effort to make my way around town alone so I don’t depend on Scott to do everything..It’s really helping me to adapt and providing me with great opportunities to practice my Spanish. When Scott and I are together, I have a tendency to let him do all the talking, I know…whimpy!

The Zapeteria is located on the same block as the Milo, which is kinda like a teeny-tiny Home Depot,(kinda). It’s right next to a Barber shop and across the street from Milly’s, a hair salon. I expected to just drop off my shoes and then pick them up in a week or so, like I would have done in the states,(silly me…I’m not in Los Altos anymore!). The place is pretty small and covered in shoes and purses and broken down small appliances, it’s a total disaster! I walked in and saw this guy with a baseball cap on sitting against the wall with his head down, concentrating on a shoe (shocking, I know) . I asked, in my newly learned Spanish , (which I was practicing in my head the whole time I was walking there) “Puedes reparar mis zapatos?” (with a big smile as I held up my “cute” broken sandal). He never got up, or looked at me, just gestured to me to come in and give him the shoe. I did as I was ‘assuming’ he was telling me, and entered the dark, messy, shop. He took my broken sandal that I hesitantly held out to him and looked at the damage, not another word was spoken as he began to immediately work on my shoe, nor did he ever move from his spot or look up at me as I stood there holding the other shoe that was not broken just in case he needed to see the original shoe.

As I stood there looking around, I was mesmerized by the disorganized mess in his tiny little shop. He quietly worked on fixing my broken shoe .and I was expecting him to tell me to return another time to pick it up, but it was becoming clear to me that he was indeed fixing it right then, while I stood there waiting. Okay….shrug. He was poking and sorta sewing and poking some more and I was slightly afraid to move, there was just so much junk all around, endless shoes,purses, broken tv’s, and stereos. As I looked closer I began to see so many different bits and pieces of broken things filling every inch of this little tiny place. I timidly asked in my Pre-school level spanish,” Tu Reperar otras cosas? no solo Zapatos?” His head nodded, and he answered in the affirmative, apparently he’s a ‘fix-it-guy’! Good to know!

In about 10 minutes he stopped working and handed me my shoe. Good as new! Wow!! “Tu trabajo rapido! I was so surprised at how fast he fixed my shoe! Okay….cuanto cuestan? “$1.50” he said, as he looked up for the first time, with very kind eyes and a smile. I very happily handed him the money, and gave him and extra quarter as I thanked him for fixing my shoe. “Tanga buen dia” I said as I left his tiny repair shop, noting to myself that I was so glad to now know where to go when my fancy Crocs break on me! And hey, when Scott can’t fix a small appliance that suddenly dies on us, I’ve got just the place to take it instead of throwing it in the trash. That was a small adventure and I’m so glad to know that the trash is not the place for broken Cosas! Now I know where to go and who to hand my broken things to, I don’t know his name, yet, but I will find out eventually and when I am able to speak better Spanish I will chat with that quiet ‘fix it’ guy ! Just one more motivation to keep working on Aprender mi espaniol! I know, that probably wasnt right, but, hey…Poco A Poco mi amigos! I’m workin’ on it! 🙂

About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

9 responses »

  1. Holly, I take my shoes to the show here all the time. He charges me $16.00 ! Their expensive sandals and if the soles are like new and something happens to the top part off they go! I think when I go there in March ( for the first time) I may have to bring all my shoes to your guy! 🙂

  2. A giant step forward, Holly, in living and surviving in Panama when you can get things done using your newly-acquired language. Doesn’t it feel like a major accomplishment? I know I surprise myself sometimes when I have to deal with places like the Post Office, and taking, and PASSING the driver’s license test to get the motorcycle endorsement added to my license, all in Spanish, was my biggest coup yet.

  3. Good Morning, Holly

    I go to the Zapateria near my house. I have the nicest shoemaker and he is reasonable. Like you, I get attached to my shoes and have them repaired. Your Spanish is so much better already; I am still looking for a beginners course. San Jose Adult Education no longer offers Spanish classes; there a classes, but no teacher. People just meet. I need structure when it comes to learning a foreign language. To Scot – Jason received a silver medal in Denver for one of his beers. Hugs – Chris

  4. What a great story, Holly. Wish I could share one too, like the others, but I am still in Washington state, waiting for snow, yuk. Looking forward to when we can move!

  5. This is a great story! I was highlighting some of your Spanish words and translating them to Bing to practice my Spanish and it came up with ‘Thong day’ for Tanga buen dia. I’m very, very new at learning Spanish, but this was worth a good laugh that I wanted to share with you. Your writing is so captivating and I have finally caught up to reading all of your entries. What brave souls you both are! Hopefully my husband and I can take a trip sometime soon to Panama and get to experience some of these beautiful places you write about. It’s just starting to cold here in the mountains of BC Canada (0 C, or 32 F), so I’m actually pulling out the winter clothes today, as it’s only going to get worse. Your writings, plus all the other blogs we follow are encouraging us to pursue our dreams. Thank you!

    • Oh Maureen, your comment made me smile!! Thank you so much for letting me know that you’ve been enjoying following my blog! Ilove to write about this great adventure and it means so much to me when I get feedback! I hope you guys do pursue your dream! Make sure to look us up when (I wont say if!) you visit Panama! Cheers!

      • Holly,
        I read them all! And Kris’s too. We are coming end if March for 10 days and staying at Cottage by the River. Do you know where that is? We are looking forward to experiencing some of what all of share in your posts. Tell me is the weather where you are as cool (temperature cool- not cool, as in kool😀) as we read. We live in south Florida, no mountains and not much cool weather here. Would love to meet you guys when we go!

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