Danielito is just over three feet tall so he travels light. In this climate you don’t need much. Ten degrees north of the equator it’s never cold, wet sometimes, but not cold. He wears an orange and blue striped soccer jersey, number 14, denim shorts with pockets, dark blue low cut tennis shoes, one brown sock, one red. His hair is cut like mine, buzzed down short. You can’t see scalp through his. Danny’s eyes are too black to make out pupils. When he walks he pops up on his toes before each step and his arms spend a lot of time away from his body.
In his pockets and an old cookie box he’s got what he needs for the three hours he will be here. The box is yellow and bears the Spanish slogan, Muuuuuuucha galleta, a lot of cookie, as if it were written "a laaaaahhhhhhht of cookie."
The box contains no cookies. In it are five heavily worn, capped markers of different colors. Only four of them write, he explains. The light blue one is dried out, but he’s keeping it anyway. The yellow, black, green and red still write very nicely. "Want to see?" ¿Desea ver? His perfect Spanish accent always dazzles me. I get him some paper so he can show me. Sure enough, they all work. At my request he draws a black and red cow.
Cows are a frequent topic of our conversations. I practice my Spanish on Daniel with simple sentences, uncomplicated by changing subjects. It’s the vacas, the cows, that eat, run, dance and sing in my Spanish chats with Danny. We share an appreciation for unlikely bovine activity. The only thing more comical than dancing cows is my occasional thoughtless reference to my wife as mi esposo, the masculine form of "my spouse."
Mismatched gender references are the height of hilarity for Latin four year olds. I keep him in stitches incorrectly guessing the unpredictable gender of such items as televisions, chairs and computers. Why a table is feminine and a telephone masculine I don’t know, but Danny knows and he delights in telling you.
Along with his markers, Danny also carries two plastic creatures, one a reptilian biped, green with a purple dorsal fin running to the end of a long tail. The tail curls up nicely to lend the figure a third point of support while standing. It hunches forward and holds a silver pole weapon horizontally across its body. One end of the pole sports a double bladed ax, the other a spear point. The red-eyed lizard grins, showing pointed silver teeth. His expression is unreadable, menace and goofy glee struggle to a draw on its plastic face.
The other figure is the lizard’s opponent. He is clad head to toe in shiny red articulated armor and carries no weapon. His right hand forms an empty cylindrical hole where he once held something — a sword, a gun, an umbrella, flag of truce, who knows? The face is a featureless, solid slab of silver. It’s a mask, Danny explains. He tells me something else about the red guy’s face but says it too fast for my skill with his language. I’m not sure if it was ruined in a fire or looks exactly like Cary Grant.
Testing the limits of my Spanish I ask how the red guy fights the lizard without weapons? Displaying great patience with the pitiful old gringo and making me suspect that the peaceful nature of the Costa Ricans may be genetic Danielito replies, "Él no necesita armas." He doesn’t need weapons. "Él es muy fuerte." He is very strong.
It also won’t hurt the red guy that he is twice as big as the lizard, but I’m suitably impressed never the less.
Danny produces a glass marble from his pocket. Under his noisy direction, with non-stop, high-pitched commentary, including an occasional goooooooooooooaaaaaal, the two plastic figures play soccer with the marble.
"What do you call that thing," I ask, referring to the marble. Una bola, he says, astonished once again at the depth of my ignorance. I should have guessed. Rooting round in his pockets he pulls out two more bolas for my approval. I admire them lavishly.
"What else have you got," I ask. He has just one more treasure, a little plastic box with a red bottom and a scratched clear lid, the kind that snaps shut with two little beads on the side opposite the hinge. In it are a brown button and three common pins. I ask him, "What do you do with the pins?"
His reply made me think he must not be watching enough television. Danny said, "Un perno es mil juguetes." A pin is a thousand toys.