The Guatemalan Shoeshine: Not much of a defense

The shoeshine is the perfect massage; you get the pleasant pressure sensation of a more traditional rub down without any of the awkward skin-to-skin contact stuff. It costs 50 cents, and afterwards you can strut about like a champ because you got the shiniest shoes on the Guatemalan block.

So why do my friends suddenly pretend they don’t know me when sit down for my weekly primping? Why do they walk away, giggling nervously, when I asked them to take this picture?

Shoeshine, Antigua, Guatemala

It’s my last night in Guatemala, and I want to remember this.

“Please take a photo!” I yell after them on a busy street, as things start getting awkward for real.

Is it weird because there is a brown man literally kneeling at my feet? Are my friends uncomfortable because I’m going to pay him (including a generous tip that doubles his regular fee), only a third of what I would pay for bus fare back home in Canada?

I convince myself they’re just jealous, as they refuse to look at me, pretending instead to stare at their sneakers and sandals, incapable of understanding the joys of a leather soul.

Before

and after

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3 Responses

  1. how are you able to travel all over … what do you do for work? I’d love to do the same one day.

    • I teach English! but mostly I don’t work! Woo hoo!

  2. I was jealous. now I understand that.

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