Monday, April 29, 2013

The Poet Sandal-Maker

Lily McGartland
April 19, 2013
The Poet Sandal-Maker
            Today when I woke up, I looked across my bedroom and remembered my friend, Carly, was sleeping in the bed next to mine. She arrived from the States yesterday afternoon and was very jet lagged; I let her sleep for twelve hours and didn’t wake her up when I went to class either. When I returned from class in the late afternoon, the bright sunlight had turned into dark clouds and it began to rain. I let her sleep for another hour because the rain made our plans of going on a walk across town not sound so exciting. When we finally made it out of the house and on our way to the neighborhood of Plaka, for souvenir shopping, the sun was out again and the streets were slick with rainwater.
            We walked to my favorite breakfast place, Crepa-Crepa, a fast food crepe restaurant. They have any flavor combination anyone could ever want. On my recommendation, Carly, and I, got nutella and strawberries. It was delicious as always. The nutella melted and was thick and creamy. The strawberries were fresh, crunchy, and sweet, but after the hot chocolate enveloped them, they became warm and soft.
            We headed down towards Syntagma Square; the nutella dripped down our fingers and onto the pavement. People stared. We meandered down the main shopping and pedestrian street, called Ermou, and browsed all of the store’s windows and displays. We shopped a bit, but we had our goal on a certain Greek sandal maker down in Monastiraki on our minds. As we walked farther down Ermou, the anticipation of our prospective sandals was killing us – we couldn’t wait!
            As we walked down Ermou we passed Monastiraki Square, and I knew we were close. The street the shop is located on connects to Ermou at a slight right angle; the store was right there, only about twenty feet in front of us. The sign was up, and there were people spilling out the door. When we got close enough to see inside we realized that the shop was also full of people; every chair was taken. We waited right in the doorway for a few minutes until a group of people had finished, paid, and left; we took their now-empty seats. The majority of the people in the shop were American tourists, we later found out they were teachers. The other group was a family with the cutest daughter. She had little pigtails and was wearing pink pants with pictures of teeth and toothpaste on them. The owner of the shop, the man who started the business’s son, had a small white dog that was extremely energetic and friendly. Carly says he was spazzy and vicious. His name was Poi-Poi (that’s how he told us to say it).
            The shop’s interior was like nothing we had ever seen before. There were pieces of art on the walls and piles of sandals on every surface. Hundreds of pairs of shoes hung in groups from the ceiling. The floor was covered in bits of leather. The “sandal man’s” worktable was covered in nails, glue, and leather pieces. It was so busy and full of life, even though it was cramped.
            When we sat down the assistant, a young man, came over and gave us a pamphlet with all the sandal styles on it, so we could choose the ones we liked. Carly chose the “Cleopatra”, a traditional gladiator style, with many straps. I chose the “Gallico”, a simple
sandal with one strap across the toes that splits into three sections.

            After we had decided which style we both wanted the assistant came over and helped us to choose the correct size - this was hard because Carly and I are used to US sizing, not European. Then, the owner of the store fit the sandals to our feet; he had us walk around and try them on to make sure they fit and more importantly they didn’t hurt. After he had loosened both of ours to comfortable tightness (the leather will stretch a lot) he glued the pieces in place and nailed them down. We left the store with our new purchases, photos with the owner, and dog slobbered hands. It was a successful trip. We ambled back up Ermou and headed past the Parliament building and towards home. Our feet were very sore and our minds were exhausted; but our mission of getting Greek sandals was accomplished.
            When we finally made it up stairs to the apartment, we decided to go out to my favorite Italian restaurant, called La Pasteria. It was delicious and warm, as always. This time our waiter was not Greek; he was a Greek-American from Chicago. It was wonderful to hear his accent and be able to talk in full and complete sentences with him. When we were full and about to burst we walked the two blocks home and fell straight into bed. Good night!

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