My Well-worn Alden Boots
I first introduced Alden and Tilley to each other four years ago, and I have been their constant chaperone ever since. Both are a little worse for wear these days, but then so am I if truth be told. They are the “best” of their respective genders, and are real class acts, both as individuals and as a couple. You’ve already met Tilley on a number of occasions, but this will be your first introduction to Alden. While Tilley looks out for my topknot, Alden does the same for my feet. Alden is actually world-famous, he has appeared on the big screen any number of times. If you’ve ever watched an Indiana Jones movie, with Harrison Ford, then you’ve met Alden. Alden Boot Company has provided Harrison’s favorite footwear since he was a young man earning his way through life as a carpenter in the construction industry (before the big Hollywood break came his way with Star Wars). When approached to play the role of Indiana Jones he knew that his retro-style, scuffed Alden boots would make the perfect wardrobe accessory. When I first saw Alden in the movies it was love at first sight, and I knew that someday I would just have to buy myself a pair. Alden’s are not traditional mountaineering or hiking boots; they are, in fact, construction boots. I purchased my first pair of serious mountaineering boots in the early 1970’s. They were European (French to be exact), and were manufactured by Galbier. I had them for years, and they sucked. Big, heavy, hot and too narrow. American feet are not European feet. American feet belong on an American boot “last” and European feet belong on a European boot “last”. Consequently, my French Galbier boots always gave me huge blisters, and routinely spoiled my outings, Alden boots are designed around an American “last”. Makes sense, Alden is an American company making an American product. My size 10 mediums fit me like well worn gloves, in other words perfect. Constructed of the finest tanned leathers available they are works of art, and it almost seems like a sacrilege to abuse them the way that I do. They are not light, but they are not as heavy as my Galbier boots were. I love the retro look and feel of these boots. They are not the flimsy nylon and leather contraptions you see worn today. These are sturdy, heavy-duty leather boots that can take a knock or two, and protect your dainty feet all the while. They are of a hook-and-eyelet design that is both fast and convenient when comes to lacing and unlacing them. Alden has accompanied me to cultural events (ballet, opera and symphony concerts) in Merida, Yucatan, and has even escorted me into some finer dining establishments with a nice looking lady on my arm. He cleans up pretty well, and with a few coats of polish makes a rather dashing presentation (kind of like his owner). At the same time he has trudged through the jungles of Kaxil Kiuic setting up remote cameras for Puuc Jaguar Conservation, and tromped over most of southern Mexico including the Yucatan peninsula and Chiapas. Never one to rest on his laurels, he has continued his travels down through Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and is now blazing new trails in Nicaragua. He is looking scruffy, dirty and plum tuckered out right now, but at a moments notice and with the proper motivation (a pretty lady, the promise of a good meal or a night out on the town) he could get himself cleaned up pretty fast. Well, this post turned out to be all about Alden, but like I said you’ve already met Tilley more than once. They are both veteran travelers now, and they both take good care of me which is commendable. It seems unfortunate that I am always to stand between them, Tilley on top as usual and Alden doing the heavy lifting from below. Some cynical bastard might say they are a metaphor for the plight of women and men the world over. Some cynical bastard might—but NOT ME.
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Reporting, with Alden & Tilley, from the Rio San Juan, Nicaragua . . .