Wednesday 25 May 2016

Laced apart

Things have been a little quiet here, blog-wise, but only because there's some good stuff coming up pretty soon, so don't go away. It all take a bit of organising - especially when there are quite a lot of loose ends to tie up from other travels. So that's had me revisiting Scotland, Gettysburg, Washington DC, Canada, England and our very own Deep South (that's a clue, son). 
I have no complaints, tasting again in memory whisky-smoked lobster and rose lemonade, clopping along on docile Robbie past Gettysburg's zigzag split-rail fences and innumerable battlefield monuments and statues (actually, 1400, near enough), puzzling out the excitement caused by nothing happening when the Washington Nationals played the Miami Marlins... It's all good stuff, with the added, literally, interest of looking up the background stuff that I always mean to research beforehand, and never do. 
But, work aside, the idea behind this blog is that everywhere you've gone becomes a part of you, and you'll be reminded of it randomly forever after (see above, right). So the main reason for this post is that I was thinking - again, but coincidentally - about Ecuador. Because the weather's turned cold, finally, and I found myself for the first time for ages tying shoelaces.
The first time I went to Quito, in 2012, I was diverted by seeing, in the main square beside the San Francisco church and monastery, an old lady selling shoelaces, all tied onto a pole that she carried around with her. I'd got used to seeing vendors of all sorts of, to me, quaint things - cellphones to rent for a call, loaves of bread on a tray balanced on someone's head - but to make a living from selling shoelaces seemed to me the most precarious of all; even more than shining shoes.
And then, when I was back there again last year, blow me down, there she was still! Possibly not still, one old lady looks much like another when you're flooded with new impressions and not paying detailed attention - but, anyway, there was someone similar presumably earning money by selling something as cheap and inconsequential as shoelaces. Except - and here is exactly the sort of small thing that delights me about travelling and finding out about other places and people - when I mentioned this to my guide, he was as astonished as I was. But what amazed him was learning that in my culture, people don't change their shoelaces every couple of weeks. When I said that I stick to the same pair for the life of the shoes, he was silent in disbelief. So there you go. Of course, this would be the perfect place for a photo of the old lady with her colourful bundle - but I didn't get one, so you'll just have to make do with the man and his tray of bread.

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