Mexican pointy boots

This month, I thought I would write about something Mexican, in time for Cinco de Mayo. Only for my Mexican friend to tell me that Cinco de Mayo is more of a celebration in the USA than it is in Mexico. But no matter. It is the month of May, and I’ll write about something Mexican, just because I may 🙂

Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for the 5th of May. It is celebrated (funnily enough) on the 5th of May. It commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on the 5th of May 1862. Even though the French ultimately won the war, the Mexican victory on the 5th of May was important because the French army was much better equipped and outnumbered the Mexican army. Despite this, the Mexicans still managed to defeat the French.

This month, I’m writing about a funny type of footwear from Mexico. They are called ‘botas picudas mexicanas’ (literally: Mexican pointy boots) or ‘botas tribaleras’ (tribal boots). These boots originated about 5 or 6 years ago in the north of Mexico. Matehuala, a city in the Mexican state of San Luis PotosĂ­ has been credited as the birthplace of these boots.

As the name suggests, these boots are very pointy. They are leather boots with a very long, pointy tip. They are associated with tribal guarachero music, which is a type of electronic dance music. Botas tribaleras are worn by men when dancing to tribal music. It has given rise to male dance groups who wear cowboy hats, matching costumes with skinny jeans, and of course pointy boots, while dancing to this music.

But why am I writing about these boots, when you can see them in all their hilarious glory in the following short documentary.

Catléia Shoes

I have to say I don’t like brown shoes. I may even go as far as to say I hate wearing brown shoes. But I recently had the chance to wear a pair of vintage brown shoes that were so beautiful that they almost changed my opinion of brown shoes. They were a pair of brown leather shoes made in Brazil, from the label CatlĂ©ia.

Beautiful brown leather shoes by Catléia.

Beautiful brown vintage leather shoes by Catléia, made in Brazil.

I can’t find much information about CatlĂ©ia shoes, so if anyone can shed any light on them, I would be most grateful. CatlĂ©ia was a label from Brazil. I say was because I think this label went bust in December 1997. The only information I could find on CatlĂ©ia is an address in Campo Bom, which is in the Southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, near the border with Uruguay.

I have read that leather from Latin America is one of the best in the world. From my very limited experience of leather products from this region, I have to agree. The Brazilian-made Catléia shoes I wore were of good quality with beautiful and detailed leatherwork on them.

Side view of the Catléia shoes that Shih Yen wore.

Side view of the Catléia shoes that Shih Yen wore.

I don’t think it’s possible to get CatlĂ©ia shoes anymore. As a brand, they existed between the late 1960s and late 1990s. So, it seems that all the CatlĂ©ia shoes in existence are now vintage. I can’t estimate the age of the CatlĂ©ia shoes that I wore. If I had to guess, I would say between 20 – 30 years old. This attests to the quality of CatlĂ©ia shoes that they have lasted so well for decades.

Chilean leather shoes

Lonely Planet has released their top 10 cities to visit in 2012. Chile, the capital of Santiago, is one of the cities on the list. I was in Chile during the rescate histĂłrico, the historic rescue of the 33 Chilean miners trapped for 69 days underground. Words cannot describe how amazing it was to be in a public square in the centre of Santiago, watching the rescue live on a big screen TV, while all around me Chilean people cheered, waved flags, and signs with words of support. I can still hear the cheers: “Chi-chi-chi, le-le-le, los mineros de Chile!!

Apart from Chilean miners, Chile is also famous for its handcrafted leather goods. I found handmade belts, wallets, bags and of course shoes all at a very reasonable price. Most people in Chile must wear leather shoes, if the number of shoe shine stands in Santiago are anything to go by.

Having a shoe shine – a common sight in Santiago

The best thing I bought in Chile was a pair of beautiful handcrafted leather shoes. I bought it at Centro Artesanal Santa Lucia, a handicraft market in the centre of Santiago along Avenida Libertador Bernado O’Higgins, opposite Cerro Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia Hill. Apart from leather goods, the market also sells other Chilean handicrafts like copper and lapis lazuli products.

A shoe shop at Centro Artesanal Santa Lucia, Santiago de Chile

It was interesting trying to buy a pair of shoes without speaking much Spanish. I tried a bright red pair, which was unfortunately a bit small, before settling on a black pair of Mary Janes. The leather smells so lovely and the leather is very soft. It was a bargain at 15 000 Chilean pesos. That’s less than NZ$40, and under RM100.

My beautiful handcrafted pair of Chilean leather shoes