The Shoe Project


Shoe Story 73: Goodbye Boots

by Camila Uriona

Goodbye boots


“To God/Universe”, I started. “I know I will find the love of my life. He is out there and should not be delayed any longer. He’s handsome, tall, funny, smart and has a noble heart. He has nice hands and a beautiful pair of eyes. I’d prefer him to have some grey hair. I consider that sexy. Thank you.”

For a long time I repeated this mantra every night before going to bed, without knowing I had already met the love of my life. Years ago my friends tried to match us, but I was not interested in any kind of relationship then.

Some months later he moved to Canada. I didn’t hear from him until he came back to La Paz for a vacation.

We married only fifteen days after we met again. He came back to Canada the day after the wedding.

I waited back home for a whole year to get the visa and for the sponsorship process to be completed: medical exams, police background check, certificates for every little thing, and proof that ours was not a fake marriage.

Finally, the time to leave arrived. I didn’t know how I was going to fit my whole life into only two suitcases, where to start, what to bring or what to leave.

In the middle of my debate, my mother entered my room and handed me a beautifully wrapped box. She had wanted me to get married no matter what. Even if that meant I had to leave the country. As she knew I was scared about the future, she chose a perfect symbol to encourage me: a pair of boots.

She had looked for the best place to order them. She found the store hidden in the basement of a small shopping gallery in downtown La Paz. The owner was a young entrepreneur who opened his business to take advantage of the good leather production that had started a few years before in Bolivia. He offered designs from fashion magazines that his craftsman, an old and experienced shoemaker, replicated to perfection. The price was good and they came with a one-year warranty. My beautifully crafted black boots are tall and elegant; soft like a glove, lined with a delicate fiber to make them warm. Their heels are wooden, about 3 centimetres high. The sole is also wooden with a rubber patch to avoid slips. They are very comfortable and make no noise at all.

Before leaving La Paz, I walked its narrow streets in my new boots. I was trying to engrave my city in their soles. I didn’t care about the up-hills and down-hills. I couldn’t believe I was leaving. “Never”, I used to say when my dad suggested I had to go somewhere else to find my real path. I did not want to struggle to be someone in a foreign country when I was already successful in mine.

But I did.

There were sacrifices that came tied up to immigration. I accepted them and traded everything I had for love.

The day I left La Paz, I wore my courage—and along with it, my custom-made Bolivian boots. I walked my first steps in Canada with them, only for some hours though, as it was winter and they were not made for such cold weather.


Camila Uriona came to Canada in 2009, sponsored by her husband. She works in communications in Toronto and brings creativity into everything she does.


Other Shoe Stories from Session 8, Toronto:

66: Cast-off Shoes

67: Immodest Boots

68: My Student Shoes

69: Double Take

70: Blue and White Slippers

71: My Resilient Shoes

72: Adventure Boots

73: Goodbye Boots

74: Shoes for the Revolution

75: My Refugee Life



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