Our arrival in Manzanillo was somewhat traumatic. It was a late and tiresome night with a lot of challenges. When we woke up the next day, however we saw a young neighbor playing in the ditch near our house. We looked on has she fashioned a fishing line, pole and bob from materials she found at hand. We could tell that she was angling to find some playmates. That was how we met Fiorella.

Fiorella was 8, right between Liam and Reid, but with a natural ability to explore and use her environment which made playing with her so fun.

For the rest of the week we and the kids shared meals with Fiorella, built sandcastles, went swimming, went snorkeling, caught crabs with our bear hands, and built ingenious slingshots from palm leaves and young coconuts, played jail, went body surfing, ate coconuts from the trees, and tried to understand her non-stop mile-a-minute Spanish. Katie and I tried like mad to understand her, but mostly ended up just smiling and following her lead.  Liam and Reid did likewise, but without sweating the grammar. We invited her over and encouraged the kids to play. Soon she was swinging from the rafters, pretending to be a mono (monkey) or a perezoso (sloth).

Early on, we just invited her in for breakfast. Meals became a pattern.

Her she is showing us something neat, perhaps those thigmotropic (touch reactive) plants, or leaf cutter ants, or something. The place is positively teeming with life.

Sandcastles, naturally.

In the afternoons, after a morning of adventuring, swimming, and running, and after a meal and a nap (perhaps) Fiorella would often join us for some low-key activities. She was a natural at Legos. (As an aside there are now some very high quality ripoff Chinese Legos).

Her school alternated between morning and afternoon, oddly. So we got to play with her almost every day.  Another day, another beach exploration with Fiorella.

Liam was inspired by her fishing set up, and refashioned it to bring along.

Getting trounced by the waves – nothing like it.  Oh, and yes, this is a real location, not a matte painting.

Eventually Liam realized he had found a good friend.

We all did.

Fiorella describes a huge bocadillo (sandwich).

Another afternoon, another down time activity: drawing.

Another game: jail time for Liam and Reid. Fiorella was the policia. Liam was the main bad guy. Reid was the accomplice. There was lots of shooting and screaming. Her Fiorella is taking Liam away to jail in the caro (police car).

Some of our favorite Fiorella phrases include: “Mis Cocos!” and simply “Oh!”

Finally, Fiorella even helped us leave, shortcutting the mile-long bad drag by leading us through the neighbors yards, and even dragging of of the bags herself. It easily weighed as much as she.
We miss you Fiorella!