Plans and Adventures

Inside the temple Visitor's Center

Our communications department is planning an event in conjunction with the lighting of the Christmas lights on the grounds at the Mexico City temple, so this week we went there to work out the logistics. It is a big event. Gustavo and Lucero have invited influencers and VIPs to a reception in the visitor’s center, followed by a Christmas program in a Stake Center on the grounds, and lastly, the actual lighting of the lights. It kicks off the church’s “Light the World with Love” campaign in Mexico and the Christmas season. The young, sister missionaries who are serving at the visitor’s center will be acting as hostesses for the event. We met with them to tell them about it and to explain their responsibilities. The church has just started sending young missionaries back into Mexico since they were taken out due to COVID, so most of the sister missionaries were Mexicans. Lucero arrived back here from the United States this week because of this event and some others that are upcoming. She spoke to the girls, in Spanish of course, but because I’ve been involved in some of the planning, I could follow most of what she was telling them. She tried to stress that this is a very nice event, and they would need to dress up. It was obvious that the girls were excited by this. Then Lucero opened things up for questions, and Gustavo helped to
View of the temple from the Lloyd's balcony

answer them. In answer to one question, he struggled for a moment to come up with a word to describe the event, but then said, “Gala, that’s the word. This will be a gala.” (I’m translating and paraphrasing his words.) At the word “gala” there was an audible “ooooh” from the girls and their excitement was palpable. It takes place in a week. We have a bit more prep to do for it, but it should be awesome! 
       After we finished at the temple grounds, Ron and I met up with the Lloyds. They are serving as humanitarian missionaries, and we coordinate with them on publicity for the projects. We met them a few weeks ago and have had multiple online meetings with them. They live right across the street from the temple. For lunch, we went to a little
With the Lloyds in front of the restaurant

restaurant just up the road from their house. Bear in mind that this is not a tourist area, so the food was authentic, and it was delicious. After lunch, we went to the Lloyd’s apartment to go over some of the upcoming humanitarian projects and how they are being tracked. The Lloyds live on the top floor of a little house and have a balcony patio. From it we had a gorgeous view of the temple and of their darling neighborhood as well. I think the little neighborhoods like this one are so charming. 

 
The kind of bus we rode

   Saturday, Ron and I decided to have an adventure. Well actually, we planned to go see Chapultepec Park, but it kind of turned into an adventure. We’ve had a lot of local people tell us we should go there. When telling us about it, they always include that it is bigger than Central Park in New York. They seem pretty proud of that. We’ve driven past it several times in what we felt like were different parts of the city, so we knew it was a huge park. We wanted to go by bus, because we’d like to learn how the bus system works here and use it more. As we left, Ron headed to the bus stop downhill from us rather than uphill, which surprised me, but since he’d been the one to check on routes, I figured he knew what he was doing. When we got to the bus stop, he checked his phone to see what bus we were
supposed to get on, and said, “Wait a minute, it’s changed.” After a few minutes, we realized that the route he originally had plotted out was from the uphill stop after all, but we didn’t want to walk back up the hill. We could get to the park from the lower stop, but it involved switching buses. We got on the first bus, but then Ron, who had been studying the route on his phone, said it was ridiculous to take this route because it went the opposite direction from where we wanted to go, only to have us switch buses to come back. So we decided to get off the bus and call an Uber. At that point we still would have been fine, but when Ron put the destination we were going to in the Uber App, he just put “Parque Chipultepec.” Here's the deal, when you are talking about a park that is 1200 acres, you have to be a little more specific than that. The App came up with options of what he might have meant, and he picked the first one without really looking closely at it. The Uber arrived, and we took off, but we quickly realized it wasn’t going in the direction we thought it should. We rationalized that it’s a really big park so maybe he was taking us to a different spot than the one we’d planned to go to. However, after about fifteen minutes, the driver pulled over at a corner and said we’d arrived. There was no park in sight, and the driver said he didn’t know where the park was. I told Ron to ask the driver if we could extend the drive and have him actually take us to the park, but the driver said he had to pick up someone else, so we had to get out. So there we were, standing on a corner in an unfamiliar part of the city, not many stores, mostly what looked like apartment buildings, something kind of industrial looking building across the road, and very few people. Thankfully it didn’t seem to be too sketchy of a neighborhood, but I was still a little nervous. This time, I looked up the park on my phone, found an address near it, and requested an Uber. 
The section reserved for people 60 and over

        After that second Uber ride, we did end up being dropped off at the park, but not by an entrance. So we walked. We finally found an entrance, but it was just into a section of the park reserved for people 60 and over. Since that fits us both, we went in. It was a beautiful garden with benches and sculptures—a lovely, peaceful spot. I loved it! After exploring it, we wanted to go to the more public part of the park. That involved a lot more walking. Here’s the crazy thing, due to COVID they shut down about half of the entrances into the park, but that just means that the ones that are open are more crowded. Eventually we did come to one of the public entrances, and we had a nice time exploring the park. It has two lakes, several museums, and tons of paths. All the major paths are lined with vendors,

which kind of surprised me inside the park. We heard there is a place to rent bikes, but when we asked someone about it, they pointed in the total opposite direction, and by then we were too tired from walking to want to ride bikes anyway. The one feature of the park we’d been told repeatedly to see was the castle, so after lunch at a little restaurant in the park, we headed that way. The castle has been a lot of things through the years—a military academy, the palace of the Emperor Maximilian, and the presidential residence. It’s now a museum of the history of Mexico, starting with the Aztecs. It sits on the top of a hill, so it was a bit of a climb, but the path was nice and pleasant. The view from the top of the hill was worth the climb. After we
One of the lakes in the park

were done at the park, we were exhausted, but we needed to get groceries. That meant another Uber ride. When we were done at the store, we went out to order yet another Uber and realized that my phone’s battery was at 5% and Ron’s was at 8%. Fortunately, that was enough to get an Uber ordered, and we made it home safe and sound despite how the day started. 
Ron on the path to the castle


The castle

  
View of the city from the castle's garden

         
This little dress was in the castle, which is now a museum. It looked to
be about the size for an 18 month old child

     
Here are all the things you can get on a quesadilla here, but notice that if you want cheese,
you have to pay extra. That's right, cheese doesn't automatically come on a quesadilla!





           As you can probably tell, we spend a lot of time in Ubers, so we’re becoming very familiar with drivers and traffic in Mexico City. They have a reputation for being crazy and wild, and the traffic definitely is—soooo many cars! However, I have to speak in defense of the drivers. Yes, at times it seems like the traffic laws are merely a suggestion—we’ve been driven and have witnessed other people driving the wrong way on one-way streets more than once, we’ve seen four lanes of cars on three lane roads, we’ve had cars and buses driving so close to us that I could have touched them without having to stick my entire forearm out the window. At first it seemed wild, but then we noticed that the drivers really are very cooperative with each other. They let one another in, they take turns when merging, and if the car in the third lane in needs to turn right (and I’m speaking from experience here) the driver just turns on his signal, waves to the drivers in the first two lanes, and they let him turn in front of them. Sure they use their horns a lot more here than we do in the United States, but that’s usually only when traffic is stopped and they think it should be moving. The drivers here drive fast and furiously, but not with any kind of road rage that I’ve seen. In fact, I saw a car completely block traffic on a narrow street while parallel parking. No one yelled, or flipped off the driver, or even honked. They could see why traffic wasn’t moving, so they just waited until the car got out of the way, and then they took off again. So rather than being crazy, I’d say the driving in Mexico City is disorganized and even chaotic at times, but because of the co-operation of the drivers, it works. 
          Since being here, I’ve had brief moments of missing family and home, but they haven’t lasted. A couple of nights ago while I was fixing dinner, I had music playing on my phone. The song “Meet Me in Montana” came on. Although I like that song, it has never had any special meaning to me, but when it hit the chorus, which talks about seeing mountains and meeting underneath the big Montana sky, I suddenly found tears running down my cheeks. My home is Idaho, but we live less than two hours from Montana, and we also have mountains and big sky. As I said, I really haven’t felt homesick, so my tears stunned me. I guess there is a part of me that is missing home more than I realized. Emotions are strange things. It’s possible to feel happy and sad at the same time; to enjoy the new friends you’re making, but still miss your old friends; and to love where you are, but still long for home. 
        The calendar tells me that this week is Thanksgiving. That is a holiday they don’t celebrate in Mexico, so there haven’t been any signs of it here—no decorations or advertisements showing families gathered around a roasted turkey. The missionary couples here and by the temple are planning a dinner together, so we will have a bit of a celebration. Although I’ll miss our normal Thanksgiving festivities, I can still participate in the spirit of the holiday—giving thanks. My life is very blessed. I have the gospel of Jesus Christ and am blessed to have many friends I could call family and a lot of family I can call friends. I will be giving thanks for these blessings on Thursday while I eat turkey, or whatever we find to serve at our Thanksgiving Day feast.


Comments

  1. Happy Thanksgiving from the Merrick family. We are really enjoying your mission!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! May you continue to be blessed and enjoy the holiday season. Much love❤

    ReplyDelete

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