Every day, a group of local kids visit our dock. They swim, fish, play baseball with an enormous stick and coconuts, and every so often they come inside and ask for food. The first time, I handed them a plate of what we had for lunch that day.
Angel (pronounced AN-hel) shook his head no. Then walked to the refridgerator, opened it and looked inside. We didn't have anything he wanted. No cookies, chocolate or cake either.
"Frutas?" Ok, so I gave him the last of the pina. Then two of his friends joined him. Jose and Mytal.
I offered water, milk. It's what we had. "No." Jugo? "Ok, si." When I handed the first glass to Angel, he took it.
"No dise gracias?" I asked him. He looked sheepish. "Gracias," he replied.The other two said thank you without question. As they left, Angel asked me about manana. "Ok, manana." They didn't come back to the house the next day, but they have been playing on the dock and every day since.
As I watched them this morning, I couldn't help but think they were the perfect image of childhood. Each one of them, about seven in all, between the ages of three and twelve. Jose pushed Laura into the water. Nanetka, the smallest of them, adorable with two of her front teeth missing and a huge smile, followed after Laura. The splashed around between our dock and the one next door.
Today, Jose was the only one fishing from the dock next door, the rest were on ours. He stood there for hours, pulling fish after fish from the water. Needlefish and small minnows, none of which I think is edible. I walked out with a small bag of cookies. Nanetka was the first to see them. That's how I know she has such an enormous and beautiful smile. She motioned to me that she wanted one. "Ven aqui," I told her. She came running, snatched the bag from my hand and before I knew it all five of them were snacking quickly away.
Jose saw them from the other dock and got very upset, yelled at them to give him one, but he didn't leave his line or fish to claim them. His friends ate the rest of the cookies and jumped back into the water.
It struck me. Here is Jose catching fish that aren't really edible while his friends stir up the water and scare them away. So, sort of doing something pointless in the face of the improbable. It doesn't matter. He caught them because that's what he wanted to do. How? I don't know. Had it been anyone else, I wonder if the fish would have grabbed the bait.
He appeared later asking for cookies. I said I didn't have, but would buy more tomorrow. It reminded me very much of the business transaction of hiring a boat in this town.
Noah doesn't really understand why I give to them (yet he still bought a new batch for me this morning in town.) It's not like they're hungry. They're very healthy and happy kids. That, and they can be pushy and rude. Who just walks into a strangers house and demands something they don't have in the refridgerator? They don't say thank you. They demand.
But they are kids, and it's fun giving them something to make them smile.