About a year into our slow travel adventure, we went back to the U.S. to take care of some business. While there, I bought a few things I didn’t think I’d be able to easily or cheaply get abroad – like my favorite brand of running sneakers.

I know other countries sell sneakers, but I have weird feet. They easily blister and usually it’s worse when I’m not wearing a great sneaker. (Even with the ‘perfect’ sneaker, sometimes I get blisters.) Part of my problem is my feet sweat. A lot. So some years ago I discovered Injinji socks. They are like magic. They can absorb sweat and make nearly any sneaker feel (almost) comfortable enough to run in. Injinji socks were on my shopping list, and also new Asics sneakers – two brands I’ve been loyal to for years, minus one time I strayed and tried a Brooks running shoe.

Here is what I got for my brand loyalty – for sneakers that cost more than $130:

Holes in my Asics

Yea. I bought the damn things in late September before we left the U.S. I hardly wore them until January, as part of my resolution to be the healthiest I can be, I used them nearly every day for jogs on the track in Puerto Vallarta. These holes appeared three weeks in. Three. Weeks. In.

My toe nails were not long. My jogging did not involve hills because I was just starting up a routine again. I was not landing on my toes often because I was hardly doing any sprints. I was so pissed off over those holes. Holes. In hardly used $130 sneakers.

At first I panicked. I thought: How will I ever get the right running shoes to prevent blisters? How will I ever keep up running as part of my resolution?

My husband was beyond annoyed as well. When we spend $130 on something – no, when we spend any money on something – we want to get what we pay for. We are, after all, budget travelers in early retirement.

So, I decided to go on a sneaker trying-on spree all over Puerto Vallarta – Asics be damned. These low-name -slash- no-name brand were the winners:

Sportline vs. Asics

Sportline brand. The logo on the box says: sin obstaculous. Without obstruction. Unimpeded.

I bought these in Coppel – a department store in Mexico with Mexican brands, no big capitalist American brands like Asics, no Injinjis. At least not in the location where I found these.

The Sportline sneakers have less padding, they are a little wider and felt great as soon as I put them on. Now, they do not have the runner’s hole, but somehow, I don’t seem to need them. And with my Injinji socks, the sweat factor isn’t really a factor. They cost —- are you ready? —- $15.

Sneakers side by side

I wore them the last 10 days of running in Puerto Vallarta, and for about 10 days of jogging at the dirt track in Huatulco. Then – I went barefoot on the beach for about two months in Puerto Escondido. Damn, I miss that place. Not a single blister, ever. I love barefoot beach jogging. (Yes, I started out slowly until the muscles in my feet got used to sand with no shoes.)

Then I had to take a break from jogging as I healed from a surgical breast biopsy – about six weeks. I jogged in these sneakers a few times around San Pablo la Laguna, and now, here in Antigua, I joined a gym because clutzy me would likely trip and break an ankle on the cobblestones here, and my spouse didn’t want me running on the highway just outside town.

So. Here we are. I do not expect these shoes to last long at $15. But even if I had to replace them often, like every other month – or even every month, I’d still get way more for my money than $130 Asics that (usually) used to last me about five months. Bye bye Asics. The longer I jog through life, the more I see the truth to the fantastic book, Born to Run.

Anyway, I’m not loyal to any brand anymore. For example, if I found toe socks like Injinjis for less money, I’d give them a try. Also, I might be done with Apple after a customer service fiasco back in Belize last year, but that’s a whole other story.

When I was a girl, I asked my mom: What do you think I should be when I grow up? She told me advertising. She said I was creative and I’d make a lot of money. Well, I didn’t go that route in life, but I certainly could have. I thought about it. I took a few college courses and did well with the subject.

Ultimately, however, I’m not into ‘marketing’ as a sham to shoddy product in a get-rich-quick ploy. Advertising often is only a big, fat, fucking lie. I am wholly in love with truth. And the truth is: after a lifetime of brand loyalty and paying out the ass for ‘brand-name products’, the last bit of desire to do that has now wholly left me.








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