I remember that when I was a young girl and one of our household items would break, dent, or deteriorate – especially pots, pans, and knives – we would always call in someone to fix them and bring them back to their former glory: “specialists,” is what I called these people. We did the same for personal accessories such as shoes, suitcases, and handbags; in this way, we ensured our favorite objects had a second life.
Currently, there is a prevalence for objects being disposable; after being used, things are usually thrown away so that they can be exchanged for a newer version. However, lately there are also more and more people interested in restoring objects to make them useful once again. This used to be the norm, people would take full advantage of the knowledge and talent of those who dedicate themselves professionally to the repair of shoes, furniture, irons, pots, hammocks, and more. In recent years, there has also been an increase in places that promote the exchange of used objects, so now we’re out of excuses to not get the most out of our furniture, utensils, and accessories.
There have always been people who specialize in different arts and trades, and Yucatán is no exception. I know many “specialists” that still work their magic so that your favorite pair of shoes can go on walking you down the street, the hammock in which you take your best naps can continue to lull you to sleep, the knife you use to cook with can continue helping you make delicious meals, and your favorite suitcase or bag stays with you.
Shake it off, girl!
Its high-pitched sound is unmistakable and announces the arrival of a knife-sharpener. They adapt a special stone on top of the wheels of their bicycle (or motorcycle) which sharpens knives while they ride around the block. This trade has become less common, but you can still see “afiladores” in neighborhoods such as Alemán, Buenavista, or García Ginerés, especially near the markets of those areas. It’s a trade which has become rare, but if you hear their whistle, don’t forget to shake off your clothing: according to Mexican superstition, this will bring you good luck.
Is your favorite pair of shoes looking a little worse for wear? Did your suitcase’s handle break at the worst possible time? Go visit the “zapatero” – the cobbler. There are many people who fix footwear and luggage in storefronts around the city markets (such as San Benito, Chuburná, Alemán, and others). You take your piece in, they assess it and will let you know what work needs to be done and how long it will take, whether it’s a change of sole, paint or rivet, new stitching, or gluing…and many times the result is better than if it were brand new. It’s always worked like a charm for me and I’ve been very happy with the results.
Can it be fixed?
When my beloved reed table became my cats’ favorite plaything, I began to look desperately for a way to restore it, and this is how I found Felipe. He works by knitting “petatillo” – a style which is very traditional to furniture in tropical climates – with palm, reed, thread, plastic, and vinyl cord. He tells me that he learned these techniques from his grandfather and has applied them to antique chairs, custom furniture, and Acapulco seats. His nimble fingers work at braiding and tangling cords; it could be said that his work has saved many pieces of furniture by giving them a second life.
Check your home for those objects you’ve put aside because they need repair, and give furniture and accessories a new lease on life.
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
Photos by Yucatán Today for use in Yucatán Today
Shoe, handbag, and suitcase repair
Mercado Lucas de Gálvez
Mercado San Benito
Col. Chuburná: Calle 21 (next to the market)
Col. Tanlum: Calle 23 (one block from the park)
Centro: Taller Ruben’s King: Calle 60 x 67 y 65 (workshop is next to JAPAY)
Petatillo tables and chairs
Felipe Acosta Jr.
Calle 64 #354 x 39 y 37, Centro
Cel. 9999 05 87 33
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