Walking home from dinner tonight Alex said to me, "Have you seen more animals than I have?"
Yes, I have. I've been to more countries than you have, so far. More places, more animals.
She replied, "I want Gran to be my mom too -- so I can go to all the places you've gone to."
I thought, "Gran isn't why I went to all those places." Then I corrected, "maybe she is...." She always encouraged me to go...
Earlier that day we had visited the small municipal museum, located behind the large Catholic church. As we pulled up to the curb Alex said, "Is that the god place? I'm not going in there. No way. I don't do the god thing." I just shrugged and said, "We're not going to the church."
As we were walking down the street, hand in hand, talking about the animals of the world, I watched Alex marvel at the holiday decorations (looking anachronistic in this tropical place, even more than in LA, despite the historical setting and the fact that for half the earth Christmas does fall in summer...). I thought of another conversation she and I once had.
A: Mom,do you know God?
M: No, I don't.
A: But other people do, right?
M: Yes, other people believe that they know God. When you are ready, you can figure out what you believe.
We have made it to our Southern/Eastern most destination and have "turned around" and headed towards home -- sort of, in a round about kind of way. We left Panama a little more than a week ago -- leaving behind La Coralina in Bocas, our home away from home. We spent a few days on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica -- went to a national park where Alex got mugged by a monkey. A sloth was living in the tree over our cabina and would drop fruit on our tin roof in the mornings. From there we cut diagonally inland and up towards Nicaragua. We spent New Year's Eve at a beautiful rain forest lodge where we saw green macaws, toucans, and other brightly colored birds. On a short hike Alex spotted a tiny red frog. Next we spent three days soaking in thermal waters and sliding down tobagones at a resort near Vulcan Arenal. The resort was a different experience for us on this trip -- pretty luxurious, pretty crowded, pretty expensive. Over the weekend, the crowds were a bit intimidating -- we were thankful for the afternoon rain that sent most of the people scrambling from the warm pools. Monday was mas tranquilo. We met a fun and friendly family from Boston -- mom, dad, and Maddy (5) and Max (3.5) -- Alex and Maddy became fast friends! Gregorie and Max played "frog" together. Today we continued northwesterly towards the Nica border. We are now at a great lodge on the side of a volcano that has amazing views of Lago de Nicaragua and the Solitaname Islands. So we hear. Since we arrived it has been torrentially raining. We have a fabulous wooden bungalow complete with jacuzzi tub. It is neat, pretty, comfortable and spacious -- which is a handy thing given all the rain and the fact that Gregg is "under the weather". He is huddled under a wool blanket AND our Guatemalan quilt as I write -- twist of irony -- he wishes and wishes for cooler locales and when we find one, he's got a cold and is cold. Hopefully tomorrow we will get a break in the wet, he'll be feeling better, and we'll have a chance to hike around the trails and suspension bridges.