11 August 2007

Shoes are for the weak-footed; that's me

[8/6/07 NOSY KOMBA --- Dear Christian, “Slippery, eh? Very careful, John.” That’s Gedeon, a 21-year-old Malagasy dude I met on the boat to this island and then climbed over its mountain with. He called out to me on our path down a steep slope of wet rocks. He then proceeded to skip down the trail with the grace of a gazelle. No need to heed his own advice, even in sandals without backs on them. I klunked my way down one cautious foot at a time. When we reached the base of the mountain, we had to climb across a rocky coastline to find the island’s main city, where we had started our journey about six hours earlier. It was all I could do to keep from rolling an ankle, but I saw several Malagasy people traversing the jagged terrain barefoot. Gedeon said it would be a pain to carry his sandals in his hands, otherwise he would be doing the same shoe-free waltz of death. (And this is coming me, a guy who hates shoes). Oh, and I almost forgot: on the way up the mountain, some of the inclines were so steep that a person with a large nose would be in a good position to smell the ground in front of him (or her), while walking. I saw a woman trudging up to her village, on the mountainside, with a bucket of laundry balanced on her head and no shoes on her feet. Boy do we clumsy Americans have things easy. This is a place of very impressive balance. ---SUTTER]

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