Shoes die by themselves. I've found this out time and again when I'd wear a pair that had languished for the longest time inside the shoe cabinet. I'd be reminded of this only at the office when I'd cross my legs, only to see the shoe all cracked up and disintegrating . Once, the gel-like substance from a long-forgotten rubber shoe followed me all over the place before a colleague gently pointed it out.
But I've also used up shoes before their time. My work has taken me places and through situations I'd never imagined and my shoes along with it. I'd covered a mangrove planting activity in Cordova, Mactan with my rubber shoes on. And an ecotour in Banacon Island in Bohol. Both times, we'd reached the sites later than planned and the tide had come in to claim not only my rubber shoes but also my maong pants.
Since then, I've taken them off when unexpectedly coming upon water. Except that one time in Mindoro when it was excruciatingly painful to step upon the stones and rocks at the bottom of a series of rivers that we had to cross before reaching our destination. I gave it up by the third 'mini' crossing and the shoes.
I've since packed slippers and it certainly came in handy when I was assigned to document our company's response to the situation in Infanta, Quezon after heavy rains caused landslides and flooding in the area. Except that the mud was ankle- and even calf-high at times. And claimed the slippers every time I took a step. Funny, but after the first few steps, I squished all thought of what was underneath all that mud and got on fine, barefoot.
It made me think that no matter how I prepared, I'd just have to rely on my own two feet. Except that when I looked around, I saw some people coping with the mud by wearing boots. Those big, ugly, bulky black rubber boots that I've always associated with Noy Leoning (who used to work in my Lola's garden) and those going to Pasil (a wet market in Cebu). There were also red and bright blue versions of these boots -- except that it didn't matter since they were all covered in mud.
Carry those boots around in my handcarried luggage? No, I don't think I'd go that far. Ever.