Tuesday, November 28, 2017

An elegant Thanksgiving, Granada style

   Imagine walking into a mid 19th century Spanish colonial home, with all of its grandeur and elegance, and at the same time enjoying the wafting aromas of roasting turkey with all possible accoutrement. Yeah, it was as good as you can image. Our friends, the cool hosts, opened their home to nearly 60 guests and made it a wonderful celebration. The elegance and charm of the evening allowed the adults the rare opportunity to get dressed up. For most of us, in Granada, wearing something nice is usually too much work and most likely too hot to enjoy anyway. So on these special occasions when we can look respectable for the evening, we enjoy it. As for the kids, they swam before, during and after the meal. The intermittent yelling, "Cannon ball" followed by a splash didn't phase any of the parents. In fact, the parents either had an amazing talent to block out the noise or were soothed by the laughter and shouts of their happy children. Whichever it was, the parents had a relaxing, good time and the whole affair reminded me of being a child in the 1970's. The adults did their own thing, the children solved their own problems, nobody judged, and no one used a cellphone. It was nice to feel the spirit of my youth again, in an unexpected place, at an unexpected time.   

The buffet line
The hosts even set up a bar with servers for us.

My happy wife.

The colonial houses in Granada have so much charm.

Parents chatting, while children were making turkey decorations in the back.

Swim time is all the time.

Eating time.

Our good buddy, Brett, who recently moved here from New York with his wife and three children.

Our friends come from all over the world.

Pre-party time.

My daughter and her friend, having a quiet dinner together 

Our school's Thanksgiving lunch

Our school had their "American style" Thanksgiving lunch for all of the children and their families, and nearly 150 people attended. The feast, as you all know, is all about giving and sharing and is exactly what happened. For the scholarship children and their families it was extra special as many of them have never experienced a traditional American Thanksgiving. In fact, I spoke with three different families and they said that they never even tasted turkey before. Seeing the bounties of a buffet line is common place in the U.S. but seeing the reactions from very sweet first timers to a buffet was priceless. So much of what one country identifies as normal maybe a jaw dropping spectacle in another country. It is in these moments of awe and bewilderment that each participant leaves with a better appreciation, from what they first started with.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Zoe is out of her cast but not out of the woods

Milestones are important for everyone and for my daughter, getting her cast off was no exception. Her final stages of the healing process will start out slowly, at first, with gentle knee bending exercises and simple strength training. Eventually, though, her recovery will end with my daughter running free in our back yard, chasing baby iguanas, rabbits and fire flies like she used to. Being with nature is what Zoe missed the most while in her full leg cast and wheelchair bound. I don't mean watching nature, but participating with it, being enveloped by it, being as she says, "Hugged by all living things at the same time." Zoe missed the many moving parts of nature, especially since she wasn't able to move herself. Though we tried rolling her onto the grass to be with the bunnies and the birds it was not the same. For Zoe, it's about following nature, and where that wild spirit will take her at any given moment. Her affinity with nature is a gift and, as parents, we are happy that she is able to get closer to what she finds important with each passing day. We cannot wait for her to be fully reunited with her natural, untamed friends again. Hearing her giggle with the insects and whisper to the animals again, will mark the day that she made her full recovery of body, mind and soul.

Zoe and her walker we affectionately call her Toyota. 

Sierra was so enamored with Zoe's cast when it finally came off.

Zoe was so afraid to have the cast removed but then was happy to see her leg again.

Sawing the cast off .

Zoe was bewildered by own her leg once the cast came off.
Zoe's first day at school with her walker.

Zoe's classmates were so attentive to Zoe when she arrived with her walker. 

Though we pushed her onto the grass to be with the animals it was not the same.

Below are the images of our "nature girl" and what she has to look forward to upon her full recovery.

Finally, a quote from Lord Byron:
"There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and the music in its roar; I love not man the less, but nature more.

She caught a baby iguana.

A bird nest dropped out of a tree and Zoe played with it for weeks.

Quite a task to get a dragonfly.

A baby gecko.

She helped release baby turtles.

We saved this turtles life as she was sinking in the sand and could not move.

Zoe is always there to help orphaned animals.

Having a nice morning chat with Paco.

Zoe dove to chase a nurse shark.

One of the many countless lizards that she has caught. 

She loved playing with Tibbs.

We rescued this monkey and got it to the Masaya wild animal shelter.

Large grasshopper don't even scare my daughter.

The sea has a lot of life as well.

Playing in the rain is as natural as it gets.

We discovered a dead scorpion in our house.

She learns a lot from tending to animals.

Her bunny.

The butterfly whisperer.

We even cared for ducklings until they were old enough to fly away.

The beautiful flower petals falling from the tree.

An ultimate example of the power of nature. Looking at the lava lake of Masaya crater.
Yep, that's what you think it is, swimming with a sea lion.

Petting iguanas.

Colorful critters.

My dive girls.