It was only recently that I realized I hate shoes. It’s probably something I’ve realized before, but I definitely just realized it again. Ever since I got back to Kenya I can count the number of times I’ve worn shoes: one. I have been wearing sandals every single day since I got back from my July visit home.
Maybe it was the California summer that made me remember? You know that dry, hot weather that makes you want to throw on a pair of board shorts, go down to the boardwalk and eat a taco with a cold horchata? Or maybe it was the fact that there are no good pairs of shoes here. Too stylish (can’t pull it off), too ugly (can’t wear ’em), too expensive (refuse to spend that kinda cash on ’em), etc.
Tomorrow is my first day in the running club at my new job. I joined the coffee club last month, but this month I stepped it up a notch and joined the running club. There’s no formal membership (other than an inter-ILRI mailing list), but I did buy some shoes from the back of a woman’s car in the parking lot during the morning tea break. It kinda felt like I was buying something illegal, like drugs or guns. I had heard through a few people that there was a lady around who could get nearly new second-hand shoes. We communicated through email and she called me this morning, I don’t know how she got my number, but she told me to meet her in the parking lot. She opened the back of her SUV and there they were, a line of running shoes. I tried on a few pairs, found one I liked, and handed her a wad of cash — 2,500 Kenyan shillings, or about thirty USD. New ones go for 5 or 6,000 shillings.
There are some guys in my building who are pretty stoked on running, and I heard one of them plans his international travel schedule around marathons (Boston Marathon, etc). Tomorrow I have committed to running with those guys, let’s hope I don’t faint. There are a few groups who meet at the front gate just before lunch, so I’ll just show up and get a feel for who I can hang with. Probably the chicks. I’ve been running at the gym for almost two weeks now, but I’ve only been able to go five kilometers so far. I gave my trusty Nikes away when I was moving last month because I didn’t have room for them, so I’ve been running in a pair of knock-off Converse. Those blisters on my feet mean I’m working harder than I need to be, right? So I’ll be fine! … but running on a treadmill is easier than outside.
Oh dear, I hope I don’t faint.
I was realizing the other day that my shoes have been so many places in the last four years. My one pair of Nike shoes has been in the United States, Mexico, Canada, India, Kenya, and Tanzania. Here are some of the highlights:
January, 2007: New Delhi, India
Randi and I were in India in December, 2006 – January, 2007 and we visited New Delhi to see some beautiful architecture in this old city. Pictured is one of the buildings at the site of the Qutub Minar, the tallest brick and stone minaret in the world. The inscriptions on the building I’m standing next to are all in Arabic, carved maybe 600 years ago. I can imagine Muslims in northern India standing at the top of the minaret singing “Allahu akbar!” to call pious Muslims for prayer. Delhi was a big, dirty city, but it is home to many relics of the old world.