One of the best gifts ever given to me by my monkey sister – aside from lifelong unconditional love and friendship – was an invitation to visit their little piece of paradise on the shores of the Sea of Cortez, near el Cardonal, Mexico. Okay, wait, that’s a complete lie. We invited ourselves, they really had very little say in the matter.
There’s a good chance we may have found our way to Cabo San Lucas, Baja, on our own – at some point – but I can say with absolute certainty we would’ve never found our way to tiny and tranquil, el Cardonal. And what a loss that would have been. We’ve been to this remote area of Baja twice now – yes, we invited ourselves the 2nd time as well – and we love el Cardonal, the Sea of Cortez and the contentment of living where life is simple and good. We could all learn a lot from the locals who call this area, home.
Here’s one of those lessons, shared by my Monkey Sister.
** My husband has four pairs of shoes. One pair is considered good for when he wants to spiff up, one pair for work, one pair for walking, and the staple of most shoe racks, a pair of flip-flops. I asked him how does he know when it’s time to move into a new pair of shoes? He told me that usually someone makes that decision for him, like his wife. My follow-up question was why does he wait to start wearing a new pair of shoes? Quite pensive as he answered, he said there is a break-in-period for a new pair of shoes, and it’s tough to give up a comfy, worn out, tried and true pair of shoes. There’s a relationship between foot and shoe, and it’s hard to break it up.
Before my amigo, Simon, had four pairs of shoes – zapatos, he had two pairs. He had his eleven-year-old sandals for everyday and his work boots. When he wears his work boots, it’s to trim the palm trees. And when wearing said boots, to trim the palms, he ties cleats to the soles of his boots and along with those cleats, he uses a rope to hoist himself up the tree. That’s it. That’s all he needs.
Just before the love of his life, Antonia, left to go into the big sky country she asked my amiga, Silvia, to watch over her Simon. Silvia said she would and she has stayed true to her word. One day Silvia decided Simon needed a new pair of sandals called huaraches. She traced each of Simon’s feet onto a piece of paper and ordered him a new pair of huaraches from the cobbler who makes them from the tread of old tires and cow leather.
I guess what my husband told me was right. He, and his amigo Simon, wait for someone to tell them, it’s time for new shoes. But after Simon got his new shoes, Silvia noticed he wasn’t wearing them. When she asked him why, he said he was saving them for good. This made complete sense, new shoes are for spiffing up.
Silvia ordered Simon another pair for every day. It was on this second trip back to the cobbler that I got to ride along and was told the story of the shoes. Simon and I road along in Silvia’s pickup truck as she drove the fifteen miles to the home of the 83-year-old cobbler, Don Luciano, to pick up Simon’s second pair of new shoes.
Don Luciano not only had Simon’s shoes ready, he also had a nice fragrant pot of hot chicken soup stewing on the fire. We were given a tour of Don Luciano’s medicinal plants, gifting us with sprigs, seeds and other treasures he has found up in the mountains. It was a gift of time with this kind and generous man.
As Silvia drove us back home, we took the time to make a very special stop. We stopped to show Antonia, Simon’s second pair of new shoes.
This is life in el Cardonal, Mexico, where we wear just 4 pairs of shoes, a cobbler will take the time to gift you with herbs and time is spent remembering those we love.
* Thank you to R Dressler, Simon and Silvia for sharing their story.
I love these sandals 🙂 I think I only have 4 pair of shoes as well (not including sandals, flip flops and boots).
Freya recently posted…Climbing to the Roof of the World with Wim Smets
It’s interesting to think about only having 4 pairs, isn’t it?!
Great looking sandals! Not many good cobblers left, it’s a dying art.
A Cook Not Mad (Nat) recently posted…5 Best Lemon Recipes
Yes, it is a dying art and isn’t that a shame?!
Wonderful story about so much more than the shoes. Yet it is hard to break in a new pair when the old are so comfortable. Decades ago when traveling in Mexico I found the people seemed richer by far than the average American, having nothing to do with money.
Gaelyn recently posted…Grand Opening Geogypsy Trading Co
Absolutely agree, Gaelyn!
Your story is so touching and incredibly sincere about something we don’t think about until our feet hurt. This cobbler must have quite a story to tell too. What a treasure to be gifted these medicinal herbs gathered with such love and knowledge.
neva @ Retire for the Fun of it recently posted…Take Fireworks Photos Like a Professional
Yes, there are many stories to tell and I’m glad I have the venue to help share as many as we can.
Love your post! I want a pair of huaraches; they look so comfy! Great posts!!
Thank you Marilyn! And I agree, the huaraches do look really comfortable and I love that they are made with recycled products.
What a special place to be able to visit. They are getting harder and harder to find. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. Huaraches never looked so comfortable! Wish I could be happy with 4 pairs of shoes….
alison @GreenWithRenvy recently posted…Healthy Summer Soups – Meatless Monday
I know, right? How many pairs of shoes do we really need?! And I agree, these special little treasures are getting more and more difficult to find, fortunately, we had insider information!
A lovely post about a simple, beautiful life. The medicinal plants sound interesting, I would have enjoyed that tour.
Donna Janke recently posted…Wait and Watch: Writer in an Airport
Thank you, Donna. I too would have enjoyed the tour and visit.
Never heard of El Cardonal- hope it stays remote! Great shoe story!
santafetraveler recently posted…Photo of the Week: Mural on the High Road from Taos to Santa Fe
El Cardonal is about 2 hours north of Cabo San Lucas and it is s-l-o-w-l-y growing, but still quite remote and very lovely.
Ha, good post because wow can I relate. I’m notorious about shoes (oh heck, clothing in general) and will them until the soles start to fall off. It’s about comfort and the fact that I have big ol’ clown feet and constantly (daily) hit my feet on some unmovable object. This also made me smile on Simon’s behalf as well because to work in those sandals for so long had to be an incredible comfort and “security”…not to mention longevity! And 83 year old cobbler making those gorgeous sandals out of cow leather and tire treads is amazing…and what an incredible gift to have that ability to do so 🙂
Mike recently posted…Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen In Reno, Nevada’s Midtown District
Thanks, Mike. And I agree, it’s about longevity, simplicity and comfort!
What a lovely story!
Carole Terwilliger Meyers recently posted…Sights to See: National Tropical Botanical Gardens, Kauai, Hawaii
Thank you for reading, Carole.
Looks like a wonderful place to visit! I love experiencing life in places where the simple things in life matter. Like fresh food, good drink, and comfortable shoes.
Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Big Island Candies of Hawaii
Then El Cardonal or nearby Los Barriles should definitely be on your list!
What a warm, wonderful story. For us, travel is as much about the people we meet as the places we go – so glad to find kindred spirits!
The GypsyNesters recently posted…A Reader’s Paradise in Manhattan – The Library Hotel
Thank you for the kind words about our shared story. Absolutely, it’s all about coming in contact with the people and we’ve been fortunate in that we have an inside source in El Cardonal.
Huarches are awesome. I love wearing sandals! Something about my feet getting a nice amount of airflow to them.. Much more comforting.
Ken Kai recently posted…My Top 5 Travel Safety Tips to Avoid Hassles Overseas
They are pretty great, aren’t they. And I love that these are made from recycled tires! Thanks for stopping by!
What a beautiful post! How far is el Cardonal from Cabo San Lucas?
Irene S. Levine recently posted…Lunch at Barbetta on Restaurant Row
Thank you, Irene. I’m sure my monkey sister, Silvia and Simon will be pleased. El Cardonal is about 2 hours north of Cabo, right on the shores of the Sea of Cortez, in a very remote and extremely peaceful area. The school playground has a fabulous view of the sea. 🙂
We have considered a cruise on the Sea of Cortez so this was a particularly interesting read for me – thanks for sharing!
Jan Ross recently posted…Family Friendly Little Sister Resort in Door County, Wisconsin
You’re welcome, thanks for reading. I think a cruise on the Sea of Cortez would be lovely. It’s such a contrast in landscape to have the desert roll right up to the sea!
Lovely story, I’m ashamed to say I have more than four pairs, being a shoe freak, but lately I end up with my favorite pairs of slippers.
noel recently posted…Alcazar in Seville, Travel Photo Mondays
This is beautifully written. I got a little teary at the ending. Simple is sweet.
Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted…Walking Around Prague
Thank you, Betsy. My monkey sister and her friends have wonderful stories and I hope to be able to share more in the near future. They are gifted and truly lovely people.
Thank you Betsy, it was written by lovely, lovely people who truly embrace life.
This reminds me of the Mexico I knew when we lived in San Miguel de Allende for a year (I had my 10th birthday there). My parents rented a house that came with a maid and gardener who lived in a little room by the front door with a lean to kitchen that had a fire on the ground for making tortillas. They were what we would call “poor” in money and possessions, but they were rich in family and love.
Suzanne Fluhr recently posted…Hawaii Quilt Guild Show: E Ho’onanea I Ka Mili Kapa
It’s a mistake that is made all too often, placing too much value on things that are not important. I love the simplicity and deep understanding (and passion) for what is truly important in life.
I love the leather sandals – I wores a pair like that for many years. NZ is not so warm though – so I tend more towards wearing fluffy slippers!
Lis Sowerbutts recently posted…The Real Costs of a USA Road Trip
Fluffy slippers are good too and deserve a place on a shoe rack. When we visited New Zealand, we spent most of our time in closed toe shoes as it rained, rained and rained some more!
I am sad that monkey sister and better half Darrel have moved on and are no longer at that beautiful home that I was a house sitter when they traveled. They too also introduced me to many fine people in Baja. I hope to meet up with Monkey Sister& Darrell some day in the future
I know it was a bittersweet moment for them as well, Ted, and I’m certain one day your paths will cross again! They speak very highly of you!
Beautiful!!! My boyfriend also has just four pairs, two of which are the exact same pair of trainers which he wears more than any other. They are both worn in and last longer, apparently. What a lovely, touching and poignant story. Thank you Patti and Monkey sister!
Sarah Somewhere recently posted…The day Mexico lost
Four must be the magic number! Thank you for reading and the kind words, the local friends of the area in/around El Cardonal are very special and I love having the venue to share their stories.