A year ago, I brought back a cheap pair of boots from the United States.

chewed boots

The puppy found them great fun to chew on. The tongue on the right is mostly destroyed, and the backs of both have suffered as well. That’s unfortunate, but not sad.

In general, I can’t find shoes my size here, and when I do, they’re anything but cheap. Again, unfortunate, but not sad.

In addition to the structure of the shoes, Mocha apparently finds the laces to have a lovely mouthfeel. I’ve had to tie them together and figure new lacing patterns. That’s annoying (and challenging) but not sad.

Yesterday we were gone to Montevideo for many hours, and Mocha got to them again. This time the laces were severed in a way that made them unusable. Very annoying. But still not sad.

Only then, after months of putting up with this, did it occur to me to simply buy new laces.

I find that quite sad. Maybe I’ve been in Uruguay too long?



Worn out, burned out

While waiting for the repair guy coming to replace the heating element (resistencia) in our water heater, I took a picture of my flip-flops. They’ve lasted at least a year and yes, the grass is showing through the right heal.

Worn out flip flops and burned-out water heater element

I often have to wait outside to wave people down, since my telephone explanations of how to get here are remarkably and consistently misunderstood. Today’s communications snafu also started on the wrong foot, as I didn’t really know how to answer an incoming call on my new smart phone. Seriously.

handwritten repair bill, Uruguay

Here’s the bill: visit, heating element, and cablingactually for the toll, since he came from Montevideo (it should have been 160 pesos, but then he probably charged it to everybody this side of the peaje).

1,000 pesos is around USD 36.

And if that 1,000 on the bill looks like 7,000 to you, you might share my fascination with Uruguayan handwriting.



Custom shoe inserts

At some point, recovering from a stupidly self-inflected shoulder injury, experiencing rare back pain, and having heel pain — all on the right side — I decided to go to an osteopath recommended by several people.

I didn’t particularly like her. On the third visit, she was inflicting more pain than usual, and I asked what she was working on. The psoas, she replied. Oh, I said, there are two of them, aren‘t there? — Yes, she said, one on the left and one on the right. Red flag! I remembered something from 15-20 years ago.

psoas majo

Not a good sign, I thought, when I, with no training, know more about anything anatomical than a practicing osteopath. Strike one.

But it got better (or worse). Her “office” is a tiny anteroom in an old Uruguayan house, with the “customer” seat a very slouchy thing under a bookshelf. So I was sitting upright on the edge of it instead of slouching underneath the bookshelf, for which she sort of ridiculed me, saying something about a straight back. There are people with straight backs? I asked. Yes, she said, you have a straight back. She went on to explain that it‘s more difficult to put a curve in a straight back than straighten a curved back. Well, sorry to bring you into the 21st century, but there’s something about a J-shaped spine being healthier than an S-shaped spine. Strike two.

There was a strike three, though I don’t recall now what it was. It’s been almost six months. Anyway, I never went back.

Update 14 June: the third strike was in fact the first: with my first step out of her office after the first session, I had pain in my back. I am still aware of sciatica issues now. Every day.

But I hung on to her prescription for orthopedic shoe inserts, and finally ventured into Montevideo last week to get them. I really don’t like driving into Montevideo, but there was a schawarma place nearby I wanted to try. Good enough excuse!

In the store, Bergantiños, after spending an inordinate amount of time facing a distinctly unremarkable oversize sepia photo of the store’s opening in 1973, I was ushered to a little cubical where, one foot at a time, I stood on an “imprinter” that recorded each foot. Wow, I thought, the same technology they used when they opened the store!

The prescription letter specified “sports use”

Am I finished? I asked. Oh no, have to wait for what sounded to me like the “foot studio.” And after another ten minutes, she led me into the back room, had me stand facing a mirror marked with tape to help me stand straight, walk back and forth a few times on a little platform the length of a bed, and stand on a scanner.

Then the technician came in, looked at the initial impressions, made some marks on them (see above), then got on the computer and starting matching colorful pressure images to the scan of my feet, spinning around the resultant shoe inserts in three dimensions in the program‘s CAD window. When I left, they gave me a folder with all my data neatly arranged.


This from when I stood facing the mirror, including the percentage of weight on the front and back of each foot.


This is the computer’s assessment of my stride, apparently averaging the several passes.

I told the tecnico that this was impressive technology, and he indicated that it was new within the last year. Whether that meant the technology itself or their acquisition was not clear, though I suspect the latter. Nonetheless, all pretty cool.

The inserts arrived yesterday. I like them! Total cost 100 bucks and change. Seems like a bargain when you consider this, from 2006: Do You Really Need an $800 Custom Insole?