Chocolate and Grasshoppers

 

Us exploring the city on a Turibus,
which you'll read about later.

 I spent the first part of this week recuperating. By Thursday I finally felt well enough to go back to the office. We’d only been there a few hours when we received an email from our director, Gustavo, who was sick and had been working from home for two days. The message said he had tested positive for COVID, so our entire department was supposed to quarantine for five days and work from home. To be honest, we have ignored those instructions. I had not been around Gustavo for over a week when he got sick, and Ron was only around him briefly on Tuesday. Plus we’ve both just recovered from being sick ourselves, and we’re pretty sure that whatever Gustavo has, he got from us. So instead of quarantining, we’ve been busy getting reacquainted with the city.

 


             
That day we went to lunch at a restaurant Ron discovered one day when he was feeling better but I wasn’t, and he went exploring on his own. It’s just around the corner from where we live. It’s called TK Terraza Grill. The food was good, but what I liked the best was the water fountain out front. I’m not sure if this is actually how they wash their vegetables or if this is for decoration, but either way, I loved it.

              


Saturday morning the Alsop’s invited us to go to breakfast with them. The morning was pleasant and the walk there was just enough to make us feel like we’d gotten our exercise. Heading the direction we were going, we normally walk down Palmas, which is a large avenue. This time, part way we cut over a block from Palmas, and found a quiet neighborhood to walk through. One long section of the sidewalk was bordered by a long stone wall, and we came to a spot where a tree branch was growing through the wall. As we looked closer, we realized the wall had been built with an opening around the branch so it could keep growing. Back home, we would have chopped the branch off, maybe even cut the tree down. Here, they build around the trees. In fact, the restaurant we went to had a tree growing through it.

              


We ate breakfast at a place called St. Gines Chocolateria. I really didn’t know what a chocolateria is, but I liked the sound of it. Apparently the original St. Gines Chocolateria is in Madrid, Spain, and this one is a branch of that. I had an avocado toast for breakfast, which was wonderful, but the best part of the meal was the chocolate. We thought we were ordering hot chocolate, as in hot milk that has chocolate in it. We found out that to get that, you have to order hot chocolate with milk. What we got instead was thick, melted, dark but not bitter and not too sweet chocolate for dipping churros into. Fortunately, our order came with churros and porras, which are like churros but fatter. The chocolate was probably the best I’ve ever tasted and the churros were definitely the best I’ve ever had, so that right there was a little bite of heaven. We’ll definitely be returning to that place.



            


  
For the rest of the day, Ron and I had reservations to ride the Turibuses. They are double decker buses which give tours of the city. They travel four different circuits, which intersect at points, so you can transfer from one bus to another. They are billed as “hop off and hop on,” which makes it sound much easier than it really is. The problem is that other than at the main hubs where the circuits intersect, the spots where the buses stop aren’t well marked, so unless you’ve ridden the route before, it’s hard to know where you can “hop on.” One of the stops was supposed to be at the Soumaya museum. We walked there after breakfast. The Soumaya is located on a corner of a busy intersection, so when we got there, we looked around trying to figure out where we needed to be to catch the bus. We looked for signs, googled for instructions, and asked random people, none of which got us an answer. We weren’t sure which road the bus would be coming on or which direction it would be travelling, so it was impossible to know where to wait for the bus. Ron finally found a policeman who could help us, and a few minutes later the bus showed up and we got on.

             


 
Much of the area the buses cover in the city, we’re already familiar with. But it was fun to listen to the explanations of the tour and to be sitting up high enough to be looking down on things rather than seeing them from ground level. The one trick with being that high is that, as I said before, they let the trees grow everywhere here, and large trees line many of the older roads. Sitting on the top of the bus put us up in the branches, so we did have to do a little ducking now and then. But it was worth it for the view.
I loved being high enough to get a good view of some of the beautiful old Spanish architecture

The tallest building in Mexico
    
We've seen this before, but have never had the vantage point for a good photo.
This is a garbage truck, and if you look closely, you can see the worker relaxing on the bags of garbage.

   
The jacaranda trees are coming into bloom!

   

   
Us with the Angel of Independence in the background

    



           


   
We made a couple of transfers to get on the south route, because the south part of the city is the area where we feel least acquainted. The southern most point of the circuit was in Coyoacán, a colonial neighborhood with a pretty plaza surrounded on three sides with restaurants and shops and a cathedral on the fourth. We liked the looks of it, so we got off the Turibus to walk around. Coyoacán means “place of the coyotes,” the fountain in the center of the plaza features two bronze coyotes. Street performers were dotted around the plaza and cathedral. One young couple was playing violins. We stopped to listen, took a video to send to our children, and of course put money in their open violin case. After they finished their song, I spoke to them in my limited Spanish and told them we have grandchildren who are learning to play violins, which was why I videoed them. At that point, as I struggled to find the right words, they said, “Do you speak English.” When I said yes, they immediately switched to English. I find that people here want to practice their English as much as I need to practice my Spanish.






People all over Mexico love Frida Kahlo. Her image and the cartoon caricature of her adorn everything from purses to posters. She is especially celebrated in Coyoacán because it is the neighborhood where she lived most of her life. Her old home is now a museum to her. It was a few blocks from the plaza, so we didn’t go there on this trip. We did see a large, inflatable cartoon of her. I took a picture of it, but when I looked at if afterwards, was more delighted to see the young salesman in the foreground of the photo. He was wearing a stack of hats and his arms and shoulders were ladened with the rest of his wares.


We ate dinner in a restaurant there, which we at first thought was an old house, but then decided was an old church. Where we sat was the courtyard. By our table was a stone fountain. The workings of it (though it wasn’t working while we were there) were obviously modern, but the stone base looked to be original to the building. I ordered guacamole with chapulines, which I assumed were chips. No. They were roasted grasshoppers. Other than occasionally getting a leg stuck in your teeth, eating them isn’t that bad. They don’t have a lot of taste unless they’re seasoned, and they do add a nice crunch.

After dinner, we had about half an hour to wait for the next Turibus. We were tired and ready to go home, so Ron checked what an Uber would cost. It wasn’t bad, so he ordered one. As we waited, rain started falling—lightly at first, but then getting harder and harder. It really turned into a downpour just as we were climbing into our Uber. At that point, we were very happy that we weren’t riding on the top of a Turibus and were happy to be heading home after a lovely day.

One of the assignments we’ve been given is to co-ordinate with the humanitarian missionaries on publicity for the projects their department works on. In doing this, we’re trying to find the right balance between Matthew 6:3, which says, “…when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth,” and Matthew 5:16, which says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Our assignment gives us a unique vantage point to see the projects that are going on all over Mexico, and it is amazing! Most of them will never get any notice outside of the community where the help is being given. Some are small; one we are just finishing up with is to provide hearing aids to 10 children and babies. Some are very large; one provided clean running water to a town of 10,000 people who had previously had to carry water for several miles. We have provided wheelchairs and training to hundreds of people and have a ship carrying hundreds more waiting to be unloaded in a Mexican port. We have provided food, bedding, and hygiene kits to thousands at refuge shelters along the Mexican/US border where the shelters are being overrun and overwhelmed. We have donated ultracold freezers to nine medical facilities to hold vaccines, ultrasound equipment to check for heart issues, and thousands of diabetes testing kits. We have donated chickens and pigs to help people whose livelihoods were destroyed by a hurricane, and beds and bedding for people whose homes were destroyed by an earthquake. These are just a small sampling of the projects here in Mexico. Multiply that by all the countries in the world, and the magnitude of the good the church’s humanitarian arm is doing is impossible to comprehend. Most of these projects are done in partnership with other churches or charitable organizations, but a great deal of the funds for them comes from the donations church members make. So I am saying, “Thank you!” to you. Most of us can only afford small donations, but millions of small donations add up to make magnificent results.

              





Comments

  1. So good to hear all of your news. I'm wishing I could see jacaranda trees about now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Its fun following your adventures. Prayers for health and safety

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  3. Your photo of the chocolate reminded me of all the varieties of mole' sauce they have in Mexico City. Have you seen that yet?

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  4. It is so wonderful to read your posts and share your adventures. Continued prayers for your health and safety as your serve.

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  5. EEeKK! I'm not sure about grasshoppers, you brave soul!

    ReplyDelete
  6. So great to read and see your adventures!

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