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TouristShoes2

I hate to say it, but we looked like tourists.

After a breakfast by the beach at a resort in the Dominican Republic, my family and I had hopped onto a caravan bus that took us through the towns outside the resort and eventually arrived to the site of a four-wheeler excursion, all wearing shorts, t-shirts and sneakers. We arrived pristine – and left a mess.

My five-year-old sister Ariana left shoeless.

Her sneakers were not just any sneakers. Pink, white, shiny, and featuring a picture of the Disney princesses on each foot, these sneakers had quickly become her favorite – especially because every time she took a step, the soles of her sneakers would light up. She was completely riveted by this phenomenon, spending the first few weeks of wearing them staring down at her feet with big brown eyes – and in the weeks that followed, refusing to take them off except when necessary. These were the shoes she wore on the excursion, while riding on the back of my Dad’s four-wheeler.

The excursion took us through the rural parts of the outside town, and the last stop was at a household that sold chocolate in the middle of a forested area. This family lived in a structure that had a concrete skeleton, with no electricity or running water; they made their chocolate outside, under a concrete roof. Their daughter, who was about six, ran around the backyard, her big green eyes excitedly surveying the new round of tourists that had entered her property. Her eyes passed over my family, and eventually stopped on the shoes my little sister was proudly wearing. Ariana took a step and her sneakers lit up; the little girl took a step. Ariana took two steps; the little girl took two steps. Slowly, Ariana and the little girl began a dance that involved Ariana initiating movement and the little girl copying her because of her fascination with the light-up soles, the little girl stomping her flip-flopped feet in hope that her steps would too light up. Suddenly Ariana stopped without saying a word, plopped her small behind on the grassy ground, and took off her sneakers. She offered the pair to the little girl with a carefree smile.

The little girl hesitated at first, but then smiled, took the sneakers and slipped them on. She stood and began walking, showcasing the shoes’ luminary ability every few steps along with a happy giggle – and my little sister stood rooted to her spot in her socks, giggling loudly along with the girl.

After the little girl was done making her rounds, she returned to Ariana and sadly began to switch back to her flip-flops, but Ariana stopped her.

The next thing I recall is Ariana riding behind my Dad on the four-wheeler with her socked feet on each side of him, and the little girl with the big green eyes running alongside them until she could no more, a feat she could not have done without her new sneakers.

This is the only case where I have ever thought that looking like a tourist could be a good thing.

From the Editor
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