Tourists Reduce the income of Shoeshine Workers
I had just declined a shoeshine, not because my shoes didn’t need it, but because we were about to get on another bus.
“Shoeshine?” the teen shoeshine boy had asked in Spanish.
When I indicated no, he pleaded, “I came from Peru. I sleep on the street. I have nothing to eat. Can you help me?”
As we waited for the bus, I asked why he came to Bolivia and he surprised me.
“My friend said there was work – but there is no work. Everyone wears flip-flops. The new boots are not made of leather. There’s nothing to shine.”
Unfortunately, I had to depart, and took my dusty dirty shoes with me.
I wear leather boots. I’ve owned them since 1990 and they’ve traveled to numerous countries. I call them “my Bolivia shoes.” At home they are restricted to my closet. I rarely wear them because I fear I could not find another pair that serves me so well.
Since I travel with only a carry-on backpack, I travel with only one pair of shoes. My boots work well for hiking, but also pass as a presentable city shoe.
But now, I’ve one more reason to treasure my shoes. I’m providing jobs, employment for street children in Bolivia!
What will you pack? Flip-flops, Gortex, or leather?
More items for your trip: