Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Redding: My Little Dreamer, My Football Star

Redding wants nothing more than to play football, something that is denied him here in Mexico. When he grows up he wants to be a professional football player, a running back.  But he's never played in his life; there aren't teams in San Miguel, there aren't boys who've ever touched a football, there isn't the interest.  If you play soccer, it would be a different story. But this is a boy who roots for the Ravens, follows the Steelers, covers the Vikings, knows every player in every league, (and just bought a book of stickers and an NFL guidebook in Spanish at the local grocery store, only to find out that the stickers were actually extra and not available in Mexico) but is woefully out of touch with the day-to-day realities of U.S sports.  And all that they encompass.

We were talking about our summer 2014 plans, that I want us to all go to Southeast Asia and bike around Ankor Wat, drink Lao Beer on the Mekong, sweat our asses off hiking through the hill country of Thailand, and finally end up on a beach in Phuket eating ginger crab.  Reddy shyly told me he would love to go to football camp next summer in the States. I didn't know how to sugar coat it, this coming from a boy who has never played football in his life, save the few afternoons when Sam goes with him to the corner park in our neighborhood and they throw the pigskin among the agave cactus and the thorn-studded lime trees.  

I told him, in my typically blunt and unkind fashion, "Redd, you're going to be out of your league." I didn't know how else to say it.  He didn't even know what that meant.  (How do you enroll a 12-year-old boy in an American football camp when he hasn't done anything more than throw a ball up and down the  cobblestoned sidewalks on his mile-long walk to school, yet his fellow campers have been putting on pads and going to Pop Warner since they were five?)  But to his huge, incredible, wonderful credit, he was full of bluster and enthusiasm and didn't see anything wrong whatsoever with this picture.  I told him he'd have to wait until summer 2015 as we are going to SE Asia next summer so there's no football camp in summer 2014.  He did some quick math and realized he'd be an old 13 in the summer of '15.

I also told him how big these kids would be. He's 70 pounds, four inches wide, and way less than five feet tall.  And he's almost 12.

Redding at the State Fair, happy to ride solo with a couple of local girls

He started jumping around the bed (we were talking at bedtime): "I'll be up against the younglings, the sweet 13s, the young 13s, the fresh kills, the fresh little ones.  I'll be the street smart, the savvy, I'll teach them how to play.  I'll be the old guy, the old 13.  I can toughen up and know the routes and I'll teach them.  I know they have things like 'the shimanny nani' and the 'go left and jump over that dude.'  I'll know the routes." (He's talking about plays; he doesn't even know the term for a "play."  He calls it a route, and gives it nonsense terms, and isn't the least bit self conscience about his utter lack of knowledge of rules or strategy.)  His belief in himself and his ability to join a team, a camp of American boys who have been playing for years and know all the routes, is so absolute, so without fear or doubt, that I know he could do it.  But first we have to get to Cambodia.

Bulking up on tacos at the State Fair

An old photo that I loaded by accident (same jpeg number as the one above).  But it's actually so fitting. Here is Redding doing some weird karate on the terrace of our house in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, April 2012.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

So Maybe You Don't Want the Sushi

We couldn't decide which one to have: the shrimp with cream cheese, cucumber, and avocado or the shrimp with cream cheese, cucumber, and avocado, or maybe the shrimp with cream cheese, cucumber, and avocado.  So we just went with the cheapest.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Perfect Little Day

While out running errands (dropping off Reddy's history notebook at school--he thanked me profusely; stopping by with a drawing and a deposit at Ramiro the Ironworker's shop; he's making a base for a huge mesquite slab I bought as a dining room table; leaving a sympathy card from Jenny Hensley for Antonieta at Warren Hardy School) I decided I was hungry. Happily I found myself at the San Juan de Dios Market.  So I sat down at a stool and ordered a couple of tacos.  Too many people would be turned off by this site.  But you mustn't. You're missing out on the best food in Mexico at these places.  14 pesos later ($1.15) I was on my way home.

But the afternoon just got better.  See below.

Janan and I had just been talking about joining Malanquin, the San Miguel country club.  It was mostly in jest, but the thought of having a regular place to take the kids so that they could run around on green grass, swim in a warm pool, and maybe even take up tennis or golf (who am I kidding?) seemed very appealing.  But then Janan had the great idea to head up the Salida a QuerĂ©taro to the El Molino Hotel.  We'd heard you could swim there if you bought some food.  We heard there was putt putt golf and some free bikes to ride around the grounds. 

So Sam, Redd, Mason and I, plus the Macdonalds went up after school.  Suffice to say we don't need to join a country club.  Everything we needed was right there. OK, maybe not the snob factor--and the bikes were shot (the handle bars kind of fell off and turned the opposite direction of the wheel) but the warm was pool, and our helpful waiter brought us a great margarita, some dynamite guacamole and spaghetti bolognese that the kids raved about.  And it's a whole lot cheaper.  We now call it Molinquin.  Get it, Malanquin y El Molino?  Nice little play on words for the cheapskates.

Tom Macdonald, Janan Asfour and Will Mac

The grounds of Molinquin

Redding Hillers

The sun's going down, the air's getting cool, and Mason's still in the water.  My super fish.


The namesake Molino (windmill)

The ride home down Chorro towards Parque Juarez.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Masonism

"Look at this.  It's a real talent I have.  Sometimes I can comb my hair using my breath."