Yuko shows me her shoes. They are missing a heel. They are the only shoes she has brought to Buenos Aires for tango. "I can get them fixed in 20 minutes." she says to me. I laugh, "Nothing takes 20 minutes in Buenos Aires." Except maybe something that should take 10 seconds, and then you might have to wait and see.
In the U.S. you can have heels while you wait. Here you wait to have heels. You can walk into a zapatero, completely empty and he is just sitting there. Heels will still take a week. Patience. We go to the zapatero down the block. He is working on a pair of shoes. He grunts to us when we walk in. He shuffles to the counter. "Buenas tarde" I say to him. I show him Yuko's shoes. "Entiendes castillano?" He asks me. How many times have I been to this zapatero? He looks at her shoes and gives us a price. "Hay una urgencia?" he asks. I tell him yes. "Bien, sabado en la mañana." Today is Thursday. "Bienvenidos a Buenos Aires" I say to Yuko.
Now we must find her shoes. She wants to take a class tonight with Daniel Lapadula and stay in Niño Bien. First we go on the subte to see Leo. Yesterday we went to Dar Cos but they had nothing. Not only that, they have raised their prices to the sky. No way I am going to pay those prices for shoes that have plastic heels.
When we get to Constitucion I let her know we are in one of the more "colorful" barrios. IE; not so safe. We walk to Leo's only to find that she is not open. Yuko is sad. I have told her so much about Leo, she was looking forward to meeting her and having shoes made. We will have to come back.
Since we are so close we walk to Delie. It has been ages since I have been to Delie. I hope they don't remember me. I feel bad not coming here at least to say hello. The store has been completely remodeled. It looks beautiful. The same woman - the sister - is still working there. She is on the phone and leaves us standing outside. I explain to Yuko that an Argentine would consider it rude to break the telephone conversation to come to the door.
Finally She opens the door. I explain to her what Yuko is looking for. Basically we are in self-help mode. We are supposed to look around the store and then ask for a size. The shoes are beautiful. All leather. No cardboard fillers like most of the shoes produced for tourists. Yuko tries a few pairs. Her feet are so slender, her arches high, and worse her two feet are two different sizes. Nothing fits.
I tell Yuko not to worry, we will find something. We get back on the subte and head to Corrientes. There are many tango shoe stores in Abasto. Most do not have decent quality. They are not 100% leather and they use that crappy plastic heel, and they charge a FORTUNE for them. I get tired of explaining to women that just because a shoe is pretty and sexy it does not make it a tango shoe. Almost every woman who stays with me complains about her feet. Even Sandra complains about her feet.
We go to check out Madreselva. They are in the Abasto Hotel. It takes us awhile to figure out they are in the foyer on the first floor. They do not open until 3:00. The showcase with shoes has several pretty pair. We do not want to wait.
"Let's go to Susanna's" I say to her. I have not been there in ages. We walk in. No one is there but the young man who has always worked there. I tell him about Yuko's feet. He makes several recommendations. He pulls out boxes and asks her to try some shoes on. Meanwhile I decide to look around. Most of Susanna's shoes are all leather with the classic heel. She has one small row of the plastic heel-kill-your-feet shoes.
When I go to the back of the store I see a pair of beautiful black sandals to die for. Then I look at the heel. I can't wear this heel! It is higher than what I wore before the accident. I had to have Leo cut down all my shoes. Well, it can't hurt to try them. I ask if they have my size. The young man pulls out a pair of 37s. I go to try them on. They feel like they are made for me.
This is important. I always tell the women that if the shoe is not wonderfully comfortable to begin with, then don't buy it. It is not going to become comfortable over night or while you are dancing. I never complain about my feet. Because my shoes fit. I only buy 100% leather, and no crappy plastic heels. (They are not stable and I don't care where you buy them)
I walk around the store. The young man tells me to take my time. Yuko in the meantime seems to also be having luck with a pretty pair of burgundy color shoes. When I walk to the back of the store I see a pair of shoes that they were showing 4 years ago. I pick them up and I say to the young man "These shoes are ancient! I remember when you had them here 4 years ago." He laughs in surprise.
In two seconds Susanna herself comes down from her office. She heard me comment about the shoes. She gives me a big hug. "You don't come back anymore?" she questions me. I feel bad. I tell her that I was in a bad car accident and was not dancing for awhile. We talk for a bit. She is happy to see me again. I tell her that I am amazed she still remembers me. She laughs. "You are a friend of Nora's. I will always remember you." She leaves us to go back to her office.
The young man looks at Yuko's shoes. He sees how one of them fits. He tells her not to worry. He can fix it. He takes them from her. I tell him I love the shoes I have on, but could he please just cut the heel 1 cm. He tells me no, the style of the heel will not let him. I do not know what to do. The truth is the shoes are comfortable, and I love them. He takes Yuko's shoes upstairs.
I walk around the store. I do ochos. I test my balance. Everything seems to be there. I know that even if the shoes are OK, I will be in pain the next day. I need to wear a lower heel. These are 9.5 cm. I use 8 now. What to do...what to do. I look in the mirror. I should not. They look spectacular.
The young man brings Yuko's shoes back down. She tries them on. She gets a big smile on her pretty face. "They feel good." she says. "OK" I ask him, "How much?" I am ready for an absurd price like the other stores. Maybe my shoes will be too expensive. Then I can say no to these absurd heels. When he tells me 240 pesos, we are both thrilled. I still cannot believe I am buying shoes with a heel this high. Even if I sit, I will sit with pretty sexy feet.
I pay for my shoes. Yuko goes to an ATM to get some cash to pay for hers. I talk to the staff in the store. They remembered me once Susanna came down. It is in these moments I know why I live here. We have a very nice conversation. Yuko comes back and pays for her shoes.
I thank everyone and kiss them good bye. Yuko and I head out the door. She is so happy to have shoes and to be able to dance tonight. Shoes, shoes, shoes....a woman can never have too many pair of shoes.