My sweet girl. My Costa Rican pipa. What adventures we have had this month, and are still having!!
First of all, this was the month all your Jedi dreams came true.
Disney World’s Hollywood Studios hosts a series of Star Wars weekends each spring and we just knew we had to go. Who knows how much longer you’ll be a Star Wars fanatic? But you are right now, so we were thrilled to be able to feed that fantasy.
You’d been wanting to cut your hair short, but held off because the length was necessary for perfect Princess Leia buns. And oh my word, did you look adorable, dressed in your Jedi outfit, light saber in hand, buns in place.
The park was full of costumed characters – some stationed in specific points so you could wait in line for photographs and a chance to meet them. Others roamed the park, like Storm Troopers and Clone Troopers, Greedo and the like. They were all in character, and for a girl who loves to play dress up and play pretend, it was a dream come true. They all interacted with you as if you were a real Jedi, and you loved every minute of it.
We had hoped and hoped that you’d be able to make it into the Jedi Training Academy, which is filled on a first-come-first-served basis. We knew there would be extra kids clamoring for a spot and that it might not happen. But happily, you did, and after a quick light saber lesson with some of the Jedi trainers, you volunteered to be the first kid to take on Darth Maul. You were so fun to watch.
Your favorite character is Ahsoka, and you were able to spend some time with her as well as several other favorites from The Clone Wars animated series. Anakin even gave you a one-on-one light saber lesson. The whole day was pretty magical.
Once back home, you were ready to lose the long hair – something that made me nervous because it was such a big change. However, you were nothing but excited sitting in that salon chair, ready to reinvent your look. And of course, you are just as adorable with a shoulder-length cut as you were with long locks, and you love having fewer tangles.
Another big moment this month was your graduation from being a first grader to a second grader. Fewer things of greater importance happen from the viewpoint of a child than moving from one grade to the next. When you’re young, all you want to do is be just a little bit older. That’ll change in good time, but for now, you are ecstatic that next year you’ll be moving upstairs with the older kids. You celebrated the last day of school by continuing our tradition of froyo with buddies.
To make the day even better, the Leonard family arrived, meaning a weekend full of sleepovers with four of your favorite kids. We spent that whole weekend in swimsuits between Wassaw and Tybee Island. It was the perfect way to start summer break.
Just a few days later, we were up before the sun to begin our month-long adventure in Costa Rica. Pipa is the name we’ve given you while we’re here – and we like it so much that it may stick.
We’ve been discovering new beaches, exploring tiny villages and enduring the craziest roads I’ve ever traversed. Our car lurches and bounces and dips in stomach-twisting ways; yet somehow, you often sleep in the backseat as we rumble down the rural route. I think you’re just exhausted from swimming – constantly swimming – in the pool or jumping waves at the beach. Searching for sea glass. Taking walks to look for monkeys in the trees.
You are such a trooper. You’ve always been a good traveler, but this sort of trip can test anyone’s limits. We’ve gotten lost. In the dark. We have to travel pretty far to get food or gas. We are muddling through sometimes – showing up for tours at places that are closed for vacation. Coming up with a plan B and then a plan C. Learning to be flexible.
Through all of this, I love that you’re becoming a citizen of the larger world, seeing things that are unfamiliar and stepping out of your comfort zone so soon.
I wonder what this is really like for you. The first time I traveled out of the country I was already in college. I remember very well the feeling of arriving in the city of Sevilla, Spain. Of the unfamiliarity of it all. The shock of being unable to speak the language or even read the signs. Disliking the food. And that was Europe for goodness sake – really not all that different from home.
But when you’re six, do you have that same feeling of unfamiliarity? Do you even notice the dirt-floor houses with corrugated tin sides? The open-air, one-room school houses? The slower pace of life? Or are you quicker to adapt, having had fewer years to form your own perceptions of the world?
I hope you’re loving this experience as much as I think you are. Your Daddy and I want this to be good for you, because we hope you will love travel as much as we do. We want you to grow up to be someone who is aware of life outside her hometown and her circle of friends. Who is not afraid to try something new. Who knows what it feels like to be the outsider, and therefore has empathy for other outsiders when they show up on her own turf. We want you to be an explorer, someone who appreciates that the world is enormous and will always have something new for us to discover if we’ll keep looking.
We’ve been here a week already. You’ve picked up on so many Spanish words. You’ve plowed through several books. You’ve walked on black sand beaches and white sand beaches and snorkeled in tide pools. You’ve learned to do flips and handstands in the swimming pool. You’ve charmed the owners of a local pub so completely that they let you pretend to be the bartender. You’ve adapted beautifully.
We still have much ahead of us, including the two things that have been at the top of your Costa Rican to-do list: visit a volcano and tour the Sloth Sanctuary. That’s all coming up in the next week, and I can’t wait to share these things with you my pipa. My explorer. My very best girl. I love you so much.