Saturday, November 2, 2013

Let’s talk about shoes.

I head home for medical school interviews in about a month and need to get a pair of heels for the occasion. I wanted them to be black, kitten heeled, patent leather, closed back, slightly pointed toe. Every woman reading this post totally understands. Every man is questioning his choices in clicking on this link.

So I head to the market with some friends, all with a complete understanding of what I want. 3 hours of digging through piles of shoes of any size and color mixed together in a second-hand heap, I have shoes, but the heel is too high, they have a sling back strap instead of a closed back, and the point is just too pointy.

So I go on I pick my drop down menus: Heels and Pumps. Heel height: low. Size: 9 Color: Black. And it yields 53 choices, all of which are a closer approximation of my desire than the ones that I wound up with.

Shoes, while fascinating in their own right, do provide a nice analogy for life in Haiti. There are just fewer choices. Clothes and shoes are bought in second hand piles where you are lucky to find your size. There are 10 meals that all Haitian families make and just about all of them are stews. Grocery stores have 3 kinds of cereal, not 300. Because Haitians need a $200 USD visa to so much as go to the DR, most never leave the country. 

Other dearths of choices are much scarier. There is no choice of whether to fight or not fight cancer, unless you live near the one hospital in the country that offers chemotherapy. It is nearly impossible to get a loan for education or a house, so you are restricted by what your family can pay upfront. And as far as career choices go, you are lucky to have any job.

Back in the market, my friends were very happy with the shoes I wound up with: they did not understand how much I wanted more control, more choices. In their minds, I had gotten a nice pair of shoes at a good price. What more could you really ask for?


  1. Shoe shopping is something I NEVER hope to have to do in Tanzania. I have enough of a hard time finding shoes to fit my weird feet in the USA, let alone trying to do it here. Buying shoes here is just like it is for you, it sounds. Heaps of second hand shoes lying on the ground, or pairs of second hand shoes hanging on walls of places owned by people who can afford to have a little space. I totally understand your issue! :)

  2. Yeah I think that I probably have the only YASC placement where my students chastised me for not wearing heels.

  3. Thanks for sharing this tips on where to buy a good quality secondhand shoes, but I already buy it on this website They have a lot of good quality materials and I think their products are really great. You can visit their website for more details.