When we arrived at the Play Zone Park, we were directed to a large cafeteria-like room, where we waited for snacks before we could go outside and explore the activities available.
To pass the time, Aidan pulled out his balero, which he had purchased at a market place the day before. A balero is the same thing as our “ball-in-a-cup” toy.
Aidan had been practicing with it since he bought it, and definitely was improving, so he showed the little guys his new skill. Then he offered it to 8-year-old Esteban for a turn.
Esteban caught the ball in the cup on his first try.
We all clapped for him, then watched in amazement as he continued to catch the ball on the first try, over and over and over. He just smiled.
Next, we gave it to 3-year-old Jefry. He wasn’t quite coordinated enough to catch the ball, but he gave it a try, and knocked it all over the table where he was sitting. Finally he picked up the ball and put it in the cup, so we clapped for him, too.
His dimpled smile was beautiful as he showed off his accomplishment.
Well, if Esteban’s skill was impressive, and Jefry’s smile blew us away, when 11-year-old Jose took his turn, he showed everyone that he is, indeed, the master of the balero.
Jose proceeded to catch the ball on his first try too many times to count. He must have worn out his arm, though, because when I finally pulled out my phone to make a video of this mastery, he missed the ball.
Not to be outdone, Jefry pulled from his little jeans pocket two balls connected by a string – a traca traca, known to us as “clackers.” I’m still not sure how this toy fit in his pocket.
Jose showed us what to do with the traca traca, but neither Aidan or I had much luck. Fortunately, what I lacked in skill, I made up for in hilarity because the boys laughed quite a bit at my efforts.
Once again, Jose was the true master of this toy, and he impressed us with his ability to make the balls hit faster and faster.
Now we have some goals for our next Nicaragua visit: master the balero and the traca traca!
By the way, several people told us there is an even more difficult way to play with the balero. Instead of catching the ball in the cup, you can try to land the ball, with the hole in it facing down, onto the peg at the bottom of the balero’s handle. I thought they were joking with us, but they insisted it’s possible. It may be something to keep Aidan busy until we visit our Nicaraguan family again.