“To God/Universe,” I started. “I know I will find the love of my life. He is out there and should not be delayed any longer. He’s handsome, tall, funny, smart and has a noble heart. He has nice hands and a beautiful pair of eyes. I’d prefer him to have some grey hair. I consider that sexy. Thank you.”
For a long time, I repeated this mantra every night before going to bed, without knowing I had already met the love of my life. Years ago, my friends tried to match us, but I was not interested in any kind of relationship then.
Some months later, he moved to Canada. I didn’t hear from him until he came back to La Paz for a vacation.
We married only fifteen days after we met again. He came back to Canada the day after the wedding.
I waited back home for a whole year to get the visa and for the sponsorship process to be completed: medical exams, police background check, certificates for every little thing, and proof that ours was not a fake marriage.
Finally, the time to leave arrived. I didn’t know how I would fit my whole life into only two suitcases, where to start, what to bring or what to leave.
In the middle of my debate, my mother entered my room and handed me a beautifully wrapped box. She had wanted me to get married no matter what. Even if that meant I had to leave the country. As she knew I was scared about the future, she chose a perfect symbol to encourage me: a pair of boots.
She had looked for the best place to order them. She found the store hidden in the basement of a small shopping gallery in downtown La Paz. The owner was a young entrepreneur who opened his business to take advantage of the good leather production that had started a few years before in Bolivia. He offered designs from fashion magazines that his craftsman, an old and experienced shoemaker, replicated to perfection. The price was good, and they came with a one-year warranty. My beautifully crafted black boots are tall and elegant; soft like a glove, lined with a delicate fibre to make them warm. Their heels are wooden, about 3 centimetres high. The sole is also wooden with a rubber patch to avoid slips. They are very comfortable and make no noise at all.
Before leaving La Paz, I walked its narrow streets in my new boots. I was trying to engrave my city in their soles. I didn’t care about the up-hills and down-hills. I couldn’t believe I was leaving. “Never,” I used to say when my dad suggested I had to go somewhere else to find my real path. I did not want to struggle to be someone in a foreign country when I was already successful.
But I did.
Some sacrifices came tied up to immigration. I accepted them and traded everything I had for love.
The day I left La Paz, I wore my courage—and along with it, my custom-made Bolivian boots. I walked my first steps in Canada with them, only for some hours, though, as it was winter and they were not made for such cold weather.
Camila Uriona is from La Paz, Bolivia, where she worked in advertising. She moved to Canada in 2009 and now works in the not-for-profit sector at 8 80 Cities, where she works as the Administrative & Communications Manager. Camila is also a storyteller and a published poet. In her free time, she designs and makes jewellery.