We’ll get back to more veterinary blood and guts next week. This week is more about the adventures of island living.
There’s something I’ve been wanting to do since shortly after I arrived on Ambergris Caye, over nine months ago. For months I never told a soul. I thought, I debated, I reconsidered. I was unsure if I could indeed pull it off. What was it you say? Was it to try some elicit drug? To brave some treacherous challenge? To pull off some great surgical feat? Well, feet yes, surgical no. I wanted to try a day without shoes.
What craziness is this you say? What is she even talking about? Well, there are certainly people in this world who can not afford or do not have access to those things on our feet that we all take for granted. In no way was my experiment meant to compare to or emulate any of the injuries or pain that these people, especially children, must endure. Here on the island, and in many areas of Central America, people often chose to go barefoot because it’s what they’re used to, it’s natural and comfortable to them. In other areas of the world it is ingrained early on that we must have our shoes on 99% of the time. It is often illegal to do otherwise. Soon after I moved to San Pedro I noticed lots of bare feet. Most often children and men, but no one is excluded. Even one of the national ministers came to the clinic shoeless. I became intrigued. I took note of their feet, those that had been walking “oh natural” for years have feet that are so calloused and well worn they remind me of paddles.
Would it be a good idea for me, so prone to plantar fasciitis (heel pain) that I never even walk on tile indoors without my house shoes? Would it be wise to tromp around unprotected with my constantly nagging chronic achilles tendonitis? I’m sure the answer is NO, NO, NO. But hey, when was I going to get a chance to do this again? You only live but once. So, I set my sights on a shoe free Sunday.
Out of Bed, NO House Flip Flops
Next thing was to put on my runners. Now, I know this seems like a bad start to my day, but even the shoeless often wear shoes to exercise. I had no intention of skipping my Sunday run. So, after an easy 5 miles I threw them off with wild abandon (OK, maybe more like put them on the mat) and my feet were free to breathe! My first outing of the day would be brunch in town. My biggest fear in all of this was actually getting out of my own yard. If even one of the tiny itsy bitsy fire ants that live by my garbage can (not to be confused with a different tiny ant that tortures me in the kitchen but doesn’t hurt) bites me it will result in a giant flipper foot that pains me for three days and makes me want to itch myself to the bone. Our friends Bob and Sandie were kind enough to pick us up on their golf cart, easy I thought. I ran past the ants and onto the back of the cart. Turns out that I needed a little help between my tootsies and the burning black plastic.
Riding the Cart
So far, so good. We arrived at a restaurant a little fancier than our normal hang out. As I waltzed through the indoors to the patio, the tile felt cool and smooth on my skin. The North American in me was worried, I just knew that eventually someone would yell at me and the gig would be up….but of course, no one cared. Didn’t even blink an eye. Brunch in bare feet was glorious.
Next we headed to two stores in search of my ever elusive brand of dog food. My feet got dustier and dirtier. Searching for something in one of the coolers I got my toes wet from some water leaking from below. I was now creating mud from the dirt and sand on the floor. My feet felt squishy, but who cares?! I just kept shopping.
Looking for Dog Food
After returning home I still had more errands to run. If you’ve followed my blog, you know that weekly shopping is not completed in just two stores! Next challenge was riding my bike to get bananas. This is just over a half mile round trip. I’ve studied how most men ride their bikes without shoes and they tend to put the weight on their mid foot towards the heel. I tried, not good. Ouch. I still thought the ball was more comfortable and off I went. Banana store man asked me in spanish how I was doing, he took no note of my naked feet.
To the Banana Store (aka veggie stand)
Upon arriving home I took stock of my foot situation. I was pretty proud of how things were looking. I was clearly getting good use.
Not So Clean
I needed a nap, but I couldn’t take these feet to bed. After a quick rinse my feet were Cyrano frenchie approved and ready for a rest.
Last challenge of the day was to walk to the corner store to get eggs and water. Normally it takes about three minutes to get there. Little did I know this would be the most difficult task of the day. The rocky dirt road was not friendly and it took me over twice as long.
A Long (short) Walk
After a very productive day my feet were ready to be put up for a rest.
With all the diseases we pass to each other by touching, coughing, sneezing and living, I can’t help but think to myself, what are we afraid of when it comes to this issue? What would really happen if people didn’t wear shoes to the grocery store? As I sit writing this my feet feel a little burned and a little bruised. My heals and my achilles are both aching. How would I rate my day of being a shoe rebel? Awesome.