Cricket Diplomacy Abroad
Feeding the boat’s pet gecko leads to an unexpected cultural exchange.
The musical voices interrupted my explanation of past participles. “Ween-dee?” My son, Kaeo, and I looked up, happily distracted from the grammar slog, to see three young Guatemalan girls standing on the dock. They held up a filthy looking jar crawling with critters. They smiled hopefully. This transaction had ice cream on the line.
“Grillos?” I asked. They nodded eagerly. I waved them onto Osprey, and they came below, looking around, as always, in a kind of awe. At what, I wasn’t sure. That we can all live in this small space? That we have so much stuff? That it’s so different from all that they know? While they touched things tentatively and whispered to one another, I bustled around in search of the little plastic container I use to house crickets—grillos, in Spanish—for my son’s pet gecko.
Other boats have dogs, cats, parrots. We have a lizard (and also my daughter’s two hermit crabs, but that’s a whole other story). Granted, she’s a very pretty, domestically bred leopard gecko, but she’s still a reptile, an animal only a boy could find cuddly. Bandy the gecko has sailed with us since the beginning, living in a palatial habitat. For cool weather, she has a heat pad and lamp, both of which drive my husband to distraction because of the sheer amp suck. In warm weather, she gets spritz-bottle rain showers. She spends her days doing that lizard thing, hanging out with her eyes half shut like a Holiday Inn lounge singer.