Friday 30 July 2021

Retirees can have shoes repaired affordably in Costa Rica

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Retirees on a tight budget can save money by having their old shoes repaired rather than buying new ones. Costa Rica’s wet climate and abrasive sidewalks and streets can take a toll on one’s shoes. Eventually you will be faced with buying a new pair of shoes or having your old one’s repaired. Fortunately, reparadoras (shoe repair shops and not to be confused with shoe stores zapaterías) can be found all over Costa Rica. In many of these shops you can also have a handbag, suitcase or backpack repaired as well as have leather goods “made to order.” Other services include putting taps and heels on shoes, and mending holes. Some brands of athletic shoes can also “get a new lease on life.”

In Costa Rica a new pair of shoes can be very expensive especially of they are imported. Brand name tennis shoes cost about 40 percent more than they do than in the States. Women’s dress a shoes and boots are also costly. Even Payless Shoes are more expensive here.

If you are really just scraping by to make ends meet, there are people selling used shoes on the sidewalk across from the Borbón Market produce market in San José. Your sure to find a pair of used shoes for a couple of dollars.

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I’d like to share a couple of my experiences with local shoemakers. About four years ago I bought a pair of low-cut waterproof boots at the New Balance store in Multiplaza. Recently, I noticed that the soles were separating from the rest of the boot. Since the tops of the shoes were in perfect shape and the boots were broken in and fit perfectly, I decided to take them to my local shoemaker to see if he could fix the soles. He said that he could sew on the soles and told me to come back in a week. However, first I had to give him a despot of 2000 colones ($4). It is not unusual for repair shops ask for an advance in Costa Rica. I returned in a week and of course my boots were not ready. Welcome to Costa Rica! I came back the next day and much to my surprise the were repaired and looking as good as new.

On another occasion I had a special wallet made with a loop that fits on my belt, so that it could be concealed inside the waist of my pants. To this day my custom-made wallet has worked like a charm, is virtually undetectable and perfect for hiding my cash and credit cards.

I’d like to pay homage to Costa Rica’s hard-working shoe repairmen. There is a saying in Spanish, “Los lunes ni los zapateros quieren trabajar.” Roughly translated it means, “On Monday it is difficult to get back to work after resting on the weekend.” Really nothing could be further from the truth. The county’s shoe makes a hard workers. Their machinery is very costly and is mostly imported from Europe. Shoemakers have to use a lot of tricks of the trade (gajes del oficio in Spanish) that only come with experience. It is not the same thing to make a new shoe as to repair an old shoe. The latter have to be taken apart, fixed and put back together. As the saying goes, “No hay como el zapato viejo.” “There is no shoes like an old shoe that has been broken in, comfortable and that has a sentimental value.” Thanks to the country’s skilled shoe repairmen you can give your old shoes a second.

When living in a country you want to go native and do as the locals do to live affordably. Getting your old shoes refurbished is one way retirees can do this.

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Christopher Howard
Christopher Howard has lived, worked and played in one of the most magical places on earth for more than 33 years. His love for Central America is so great that he became a citizen of Costa Rica. Howard is the author the perennial best-selling travel/retirement/overseas investment guide book (15 editions), The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica. He is the only author of any of the guidebooks about Costa Rica who actually lives there full-time. You can reach Howard at

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