While walking downtown with Geli, the intelligent, feisty, just under 30, site director, I mentioned how many shoe stores I had seen both in Rio and here in Santarem. The number of pairs in every store was astronomical. She told me that Brazilian women are crazy about shoes and purses. She confessed that a few months ago when contemplating a move to Rio de Janeiro, she gave away 38 pairs to make packing more manageable. I dreaded asking her how many she kept or how many purses she owned for that matter. It becomes abuntantly clear that this a far more style-conscious society than anything I have experienced in the States. This urge to dress "right" applies to men and children as well. The number of shops selling atheletic shoes and clothing honoring soccer players and teams is staggering. Behind coffee and sugar production, the shoe industry is a bulwark of Brazilian economy. Tariffs keep out cheap Chinese imitations and, according to an article I read on Google, an ugly scene took place recently when it was learned that Argentinians had tried to infiltrate and steal the newest fashion secrets.
It is easy to fall into a critical position about how other people spend money. I have friends in the U.S. who buy fishing tackle every chance they get, much of which they rarely use and certainly the equipment is more expensive than a dead fish at the market. There is a certain cost for buying joy in life and when it comes to shoes, these people walk tall. The middle photo is a box of throw-aways in front of a store, and the last picture is certainly not of glass slippers, nor Judy Garland clicking her heels in Oz. Yet there feels like a magic in the air in the way the women walk, a confidence in their step. The mantra is clear." If the shoe fits, .........!