Well, we finally found the ‘Shrimp Truck’. That would be the elusive fisherman that we’ve heard about, the ones that drive through town with a loudspeaker on the top and coolers full of their fresh catch in the back. The story told to us is that their seafood comes straight from the water, and that it’s the freshest catch around. But until yesterday, that was just a rumor. Lily and I were walking into town when I heard ‘Camarones! Huachinango!’…(shrimp, red snapper). “Bean! That’s the Shrimp Truck!” I picked her up and we bolted back to the house to get Rich because I didn’t have enough cash on me.
A few minutes later we were in the town square and bartering with three fisherman in the back of a small, beat up burgundy truck. It is no exaggeration to say that the shrimp he pulled out of his cooler were the biggest I had ever seen. Ever. We definitely wanted some of those. What else did he have? There was a lot of back and forth and the scallop guy was different from the shrimp guy and HE was different than the red snapper guy, etc. So in the end I don’t really know how much we got and what it all cost but we left with quite a load of seafood.
Lily and I had initially been leaving to go pick out a birthday present for Rhonda (from her). Ava and I had made the trek earlier, and although Ava was very thoughtful about selecting a gift for Lily to give her mom (and Lily had agreed to let her pick it out), Lily changed her mind when she saw what Ava had purchased for herself – two identical necklaces for her and her mom to wear. I was a little frustrated about having to go out again just because Lily wanted to get something different. And I guess the truth is that I didn’t have to go out. Furthermore…I was probably spoiling Lily by catering to her after she’d already made a decision to let Ava pick her gift. But after thinking about it I simply decided – so what? We left our compound and sat down on the curb. “I’m sorry for being frustrated Bean. You made a decision and I want you to stick to it. But I understand that its mommy’s birthday and you want to make it special for her.” She nodded and put her head on my shoulder. “I can tell when you’re getting stressed out daddy,” she said. I smiled and said I was sorry. She hugged me. It was starting to rain. Pretty insightful for a five year old. Pretty expressive.
Bean and I walked into galleries and small trinket shops talking about other trips we’ve been on and looking for the perfect gift. She finally picked out a penguin ornament (?). No matter – Bean had picked it out for her mom so it was perfect. Later on, after it was dark, Bean and I decided to walk into town to look for a woman selling homemade cakes on the street yesterday. Mommy needed a cake, right? We first thought we’d all just go out for ice cream but the rain seemed unrelenting. I thought no way would Bean want to go out in the weather with me – especially because it is absolutely pitch black at night. But she did and she didn’t stop singing and skipping the entire way. We found the cake lady and picked out an enormous ‘Tres Leches’ cake, then headed back up the hill, into the blackness of the jungle. Bean was still singing. I’m glad she’s not a fearful kid. Neither of them is, actually. So we got a good cake, but everyone fell asleep after our feast of fresh shrimp, so we’ll have to have it tomorrow.
Earlier Ava and I had gone on our own shopping excursion. We did nearly the same trek and Lily and I did and, as I said earlier, Bird opted for matching necklaces for her and her mom. “That way we can always be together.” I loved it. We also walked down to the beach looking for some fresh coconuts and remembering how much we loved carving the meat out of them when we were in Kauai last summer. But alas, the rain was just starting then and the venders were sparse. Bird just shrugged it off. “Maybe they’ll be here tomorrow Dad.”
When the two girls are separated, they are completely different people. Those are the times when I can really feel our relationship grow. I can’t imagine feeling more proud of my two daughters. It’s been a rush of thoughts since being here, for a variety of reasons. For one, this is the last vacation I took with my dad before he died. I’ve been thinking about him. Two, I’ve been observing Rich’s boy Max, thinking about the decision we made not to have any more kids and the fact that I’ll never have a boy of my own. Then I look at my girls and I watch how sweet they are to each other, how respectful they are to us, how hungry their brains are, what world travelers they’ve become and what a tight knit unit the four of us have become. Of course, because I am me, I am constantly worried that it will all come to a screeching halt one day. But things are good. Things are very good.
In fact, I was just doing a recount of the last calendar year in my head. Specifically – all the trips we’ve taken. Here it is – one year ago to today, as best I can recount:
- January 2011 – Denver
- February 2011 – Nashville, Denver, Las Vegas (me)
- March 2011 – n/a
- April 2011 – Denver, China (Rhonda)
- May 2011 – South Carolina
- June 2011 – Kauai
- July 2011 – Las Vegas
- August 2011 – Denver, China (Rhonda)
- September 2011 – n/a
- October 2011 – New Mexico
- November 2011 – n/a
- December 2011 – Denver
- January 2012 – n/a
- February 2012 – Sayulita, MX
Worth mentioning is that I managed to earn elite status on both Delta and US Air WITHOUT any of these trips; that was simply all of my trips to Washington DC and Wisconsin.