BootsnAll Travel Network

Rockport Discovery Series: The Story of Da Shoes

Some common advice given by books, family, other travelers and the like before embarking on an extended trip:

– Make copies of your passport, credit card numbers, important phone numbers
– Make sure to bring necessary medication, and their authorized prescriptions
– Have a back up to any eye glasses, as well as the eyeglass prescription
– Of course, you also need to pack your airline tickets, travelers checks, ATM cards, etc.
– Have a good, comfortable and reliable pair of shoes.

Shoes make a big difference in travel, especially if you’ll be on your feet often, for example, hiking and walking miles everyday, or just simple touring around the city on your own two feet. And if you’ll be carrying any amount of weight on your back, you want good footwear to support all the activities that you will be doing.

For my trip to Guatemala, I had the shoe thing all covered, no problem. Way way back when, years and years ago, I went abroad to Europe and decided to buy the VERY BEST shoes I could find. The Rockport Discovery Series high top hiker, made of leather, durable outersole, a very comfortable insole, perfect fit, and shoe laces that won’t fray or fall apart after a few times of lacing up the boots. Those shoes served me so well during my 4 months, and I retired them into my shoe box, hopeful that one day I would once again be able to don those marvelous shoes of workmanship and head out on another successful travel.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I didn’t exactly do the best job of packing. We don’t need to discuss my back up pair of glasses. Or how I wish I brought my Spanish language book and left my stupid Sharper Image electronic translator at home instead. During my haphazard job of packing (i.e. throwing things I think I would need into my pack), I had already made the choice that my wonderful Rockport hikers were going with me. I located them, still in the shoe box, and with no hesitation put them on. But something was amiss…the bottom of my feet didn’t feel right. There was something definitely missing. I take off my boots, look inside, and realize that the insoles are missing. Of course….they were so comfortable, that years ago I took them out and put them into some other hiker shoes. I had no time to go to the store, so I just found some other generic insoles from another cheap pair of hiking shoes and forced them to fit inside my Rockports. And then I was off. To the airport, on the plane, on the bus, and on to Xela, BootsnAll!

Everything is fine and dandy. But on my second day into my travels, my boots still feel a little off. When I take a step, the shoes hit the ground awkwardly. It doesn’t feel strong, doesn’t feel like it has the appropriate leverage or enough “spring.” I take off my shoes to do a thorough examination, something of course that I should have done back in Portland, before I left. And here is what I see….






My shoes are broken. Literally falling apart. How could this be? How could the soles of my shoes just disintegrate like that? Like some mysterious acid or disease decides to attack, rotting them out and rendering my shoes useless. I contemplate what to do.

I figure it’s time for a new pair of hikers. And go to the only mall here in Xela. There is a Payless Shoe Source. Just like in the states. They must have cheap shoes, maybe $20, maybe $30. But no…for some reason, the prices are actually higher. More like $60. Granted, my Rockport shoes cost me over $120 over 10 years ago, but now I was just looking for some cheap replacements. I have a very limited budget, and was really hoping for something under $30. I go to other local markets, go to the big department store, still no luck.

Plan B. Have my shoes repaired. I spend an afternoon walking around, and find 4 different shoe repair shops. My Spanish at this point consists of “Si,” “Por Favor” and “Gracias.” So it is a real struggle as I try to explain what I want. Basically, I’d like them to take off the sole and replace it with another one. It seems that they understand me, but I cannot for the life of me understand a lick of what they are telling me. I can’t even figure out what they are to charge me, or how long it will take, or exactly how they will fix my shoes.  Each shop wants to replace both soles, even though it really is only one shoe that needs the repair.  One guy even takes out soles that look like they belong on construction boots and offers them to me. Not exactly what I was thinking of if I am to do any extended hikes.

Finally, I go to Calzado Freddys. A very dark, very smallish and older man, the lines on his face tell me that he’s been in the shoe business for a very long time. We seem to understand each other. One week is what it will take. 50 Quetzals will get me my shoes back with new soles on both. I am hopeful.

One week passes, I am back at the little store. Before he gives them to me, he has his assistant give them a good shoe shine and rub down. What service! I carry them back home, and put them on. And of course, they are not going to be exactly how I remember them. The height is a little higher, the walking a little stiff. But they are serviceable, I just need to break them in. And hopefully they will last the rest of the time that I am here.







This last picture is the best for comparison between the before and after…I really did gain a lot of height once I put these new improved shoes on!


So, how is the workmanship, the quality? Well, I was skeptical at first. Every single hike that I went on, I also brought my sandals. Just in case while I’m trudging up the mountain path, the soles decide to separate again and I’ll be walking with a flappy bottom of my shoes. But thankfully, that has not happened yet. I have kept a close eye on them though, and the soles are definitely wearing out quickly.

And so I will don those pair of Rockports one more time. Tomorrow I begin my 6 day trek through the highlands, probably my last extended hike for the rest of my trip. After that time, I will retire my boots once again, and trade them in for wearing my Nevos sandals full time. So this story of my shoes really does not have an end, as the tale is still in progress. And I’m hoping for a successful ending, one where my feet are unscathed and unharmed, all because of the comfort and workmanship of my new and “improved” Rockports.

As I will be Internetless for the next week, I have pretyped a bunch of blog entries that will post here everyday at 12pm, including the topics of my near drowning at Semuc Champey, a weekend of hanging out in Xela, a trip to the famous hot springs, and more. So check back here tomorrow and the next day for more, and if you are really not wanting to get to that project at work or just want to kill some more time, you can also check out the Markus’ blog and photos at

But one thing — Markus has a super kick ass professional camera, so his photos are 100 times better than mine.  And he has some pics from places we’ve been to that I have posted up yet, so try not to cheat with taking any sneak peeks!  Those other photos will be posted up in time, so don’t go overload yourself with too much or you’ll experience the law of diminishing marginal utility.  Bye for now, but come back again tomorrow for another new post!


2 responses to “Rockport Discovery Series: The Story of Da Shoes”

  1. Mike Jones says:

    Get a haircut!!

    Hey man, this blog rocks. I was feeling your pain through the glasses episode, and your shoes..

    Damn.. COuld be worse though!!

    You could be like Dan and living in a storage unit down by the river with no bathroom or money..

    At least you are working!

    Since you have left dan has been unemployed. He showed a pic of his unit to a co-worker and got fired.

    So he’s living in good ole USA in sub standard living conditions. In a Storage unit with no heat or bathroom.

    So if you think you have it bad, you can always think of Dan.

    Keep the posts coming man!

  2. Mike Jones says:

    Hey, you should have gotten the laser eye surgery there..

    Maybe have them do one eye, and leave the other alone..

    That way you miniumize risk and save half the money.

    You probably really only need one good eye to get ya by for the next few months..

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