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The boys' Portuguese is progressing apace. J's vocabulary right now, though, consists primarily of "para" (stop), "desce" (get off of me), and "eu nao gosto disso" (I don't like that).

Let me explain.

The family we are renting from has three kids, too: a 14-year old boy, an 11-year old girl, and five-year old N., who spends most of her waking hours hanging around our house, asking the boys for gum, listening to our iPod, swinging in the hammock with whoever's in it. (The compound consists of 3 houses enclosed by an adobe wall: the owners' larger one at the top, two tiny ones at the bottom. A few times the other small one has been occupied by a backpacker or two, passing through, but it's mostly been empty.)

Anyway, N., an adorable girl with a mess of curly hair and a smile missing the two front teeth, has taken a particular liking to J. What she likes to do is pick him up, carry him around like a doll, and call him her "bebezinho," her little baby. Even though they're the same size.

Yesterday, when we were watching a soccer game at their house, she asked me if I wanted a girl. Sure, I said. But I don't have one.

Well, you could, she said. I could put makeup on J., and he could be a girl.

J. is generally a good sport about it. (In fact, this afternoon, he walked in with a suspicious shine to his lips that matched that of N.'s. Are you wearing lipstick? I asked. Yeah, he shrugged.)

But he does sometimes get tired of the enthusiastic attention. That's when we hear shouts of "para!" echoing around the courtyard, and see N. shaking her head, slightly disappointed but nonetheless obliging of her bebezinho's whims for a little space.

At least for a few minutes.

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