Tag: clothing

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?

My exciting new calzados con Velcro

cheap shoes, Uruguay

Oh boy, you’re thinking, he’s really lost it now.

I know: shoes with Velcro are not exciting. But in Uruguay, cheap shoes that fit me are exciting. And most of what’s available is size 45 or less. These are 48. And they fit. And they cost under USD 30.

The ones I wanted they had, surprisingly, in 46, 47, and 49, but no 48. They called another store a few blocks away (I thought I’d been in every one in Pando already), and told me someone would bring a pair in size 48. Which they did, though the only similarity to the others was the color.

I have a special disdain for Velcro shoes, our nemesis in our early days of doing school author presentations. Well, not the shoes in fact, but the combination of the shoes and the kindergarteners in the front row who couldn’t stop sticking them and loudly unsticking them. I sometimes felt like screaming at them, WHY DON’T YOU BRATS LEARN TO GODDAM TIE SHOES? But I didn’t.

My neighbor Manuel told me that going to Pando used to be the butt of jokes in Montevideo, since it was popular for its whiskerías (whorehouses) and hourly motels. It’s significant for us because they deliver for free (the stores, not the whores): Montevideo is farther, and through the toll booth.

While in Pando, I found a 20-tube solar water heater with a 3-year guarantee for USD 675. So maybe one day soon I’ll actually get to do a hot baking-soda-magnesium-oil soak in our expensive bathtub.

My excitement today in Uruguay: cheap Velcro shoes. No, really.