Crossing a continent in a pair of Vans

I am taking a break from my regular posts chronicling past adventures through South America to talk about shoes.

More specifically one pair of shoes, a pair of shoes that marched up the steps of Machu Picchu, trekked across the driest desert in the world, pounded the streets of countless cities soaked in sunshine and music, wandered along the sands of the Caribbean, journeyed to the peaks of volcanoes, ventured into the heart of the Amazon, and roamed to the end of the world.  I brought one pair of shoes along with me to South America, a pair of navy blue Vans.  I purchased them brand new right before leaving, and I beat the shit out of them for a year.

I wore those suckers everywhere I went, whether it was in the Santiago metro heading to class, or walking to the market to buy fresh fruit, or adventuring across the continent.  Sun bleached and falling apart at the seams, the tread destroyed by streets and rocks and volcanoes, enveloped in war wounds from my adventures, and always ready for more.  Each rip was a story, each tear added to the epic that was my year abroad, each stain added character and personality.

It sounds ridiculous, they’re just shoes, but they did a great job.  I witnessed travel hardened veterans with heavy duty boots, hiking shoes, and running shoes, all made for life on the road, all offering sturdiness, durability and comfort, all for a hefty price tag.  I understand it, they’re serious about travelling and it makes sense to get the right equipment, but I would take the feeling of sand getting into my shoes as I walk across a beach any day.

This isn’t some cheesy brand promotion for Vans.  I just had an unreal year and saw some unbelievable things while rocking a pretty awesome set of kicks.  Although if Vans wants to send me around Southeast Asia to make a commercial, I’m willing to have that talk .

I will never travel in anything besides a pair of shoes that I can beat up and down the world, and can look back and say to myself that they were a rad pair of shoes to experience it all in.  So as I retire my navy blue Vans from my South American adventure, I look forward to destroying another pair during my time in Mexico.

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