"Hasta Luego" Not "Adios"

 

When we arrived in Mexico, all the other senior couples told us how much longer they had before they went home. At that point it seemed like we’d all be together for a very long time. Well, time has flown! Among the Teca Once missionaries, the Walkers went home a few weeks ago and the Hansens went home this week. The women all went out for farewell lunches together, first for Marsha Walker and this week for JoElla Hansen, but that’s as much of a party as either couple would let us throw for them. The Cluffs, who host our game nights, will be going home in a month. Friday, we had a dinner at the temple manzana as a farewell to the Carstensens. The missionaries there got talking about everyone else who would be going home in the next couple of months, and I was stunned. As I told the Hansens, I’ll say “hasta lugeo,” (see you later) but not “Adios” (good-bye.) It has been a privilege and a joy to associate with each of the couples we’ve met here. They are amazing people. The good news is that new couples have begun arriving to replace the ones who are leaving. They all seem like great people too, so it will be fun to get to know them better.



               An article I wrote about the Carstensens a couple of months ago was published on the church’s Mexican news website, just a few days before they left to go home. I was so happy it was published before they left. It’s a fun story. You can find it at https://noticias.laiglesiadejesucristo.org/articulo/un-misionero-mayor-sigue-los-pasos-de-su-abuelo.

 

              Saturday morning we went for a walk with the Wrights to get our exercise for the day. We intended to walk for about an hour and a half, but we ran into so many fun things, that it took all morning. We walked to Chapultepec Park, which is huge—1695 acres huge. We’ve been there a couple of times already to explore, but still, during our first hour in the park, we were in territory we hadn’t seen yet. Then we got to the base of the hill Chapultepec Castle sits on, and we knew where we were. With the rain we get almost every evening now, everything has greened up even more, and the park was gorgeous.


I thought this was a cool picture of Ron and Jerry in front of the Mexico City skyline as we walked to Chapultepec Park
     



     

This tree trunk is called "El Sargento" (the Sargeant.) The tree is believed to have been planted in 1460 and died in 1969, but the trunk still stands.

This is a monument to the Mexican soldiers who fought in World War II
     

     

One section of Chapultepec Park is a botanical garden, which I’ve wanted to visit. We found an open entrance to it and went in. It was amazing! Some botanical gardens I’ve visited have been high on varieties of plants but low on garden design. That was not the case here. Not only did the garden showcase a wide variety of plants, it did so in beautiful, creative ways. I was in heaven! It even had a green house with tropical plants and a beautiful stained-glass ceiling.

 





We got a kick out of the name of this plant. It's the mother-in-law's seat.





When we finished going through the botanical garden, we were ready to head home, but then we saw some men getting ready to perform la Danza de los Volvadores and we had to stick around to watch. The exact origins of this ritual aren’t clear, but the basic idea is that there was a terrible drought, and this ceremony was created as a way to appeal to the Gods to send rain. (The people in Utah and Idaho might want to take note.) Five men climb up a pole that is about 100 feet tall and onto a revolving framework. Ropes are wound around the pole section of this framework. One man stands on the top of the pole beating a drum and playing a flute. The other four men attach ropes to their feet and then throw themselves off the framework. To start with, the men’s ropes are short and they don’t fall very far, but as the framework revolves, the ropes unwind. The men fly around the pole hanging upside down and striking poses for about ten minutes slowly getting lower and lower until they reach the ground. We’ve been having plenty of rain here and there was a man walking around collecting tips from everyone who watched the performance, so this was a commercial enterprise rather than a religious one.




We sat on a low wall around a fountain while we watched the Volvadores. After the performance we didn’t even have time to get up before a woman walked up to us and asked if we spoke English. She was there with a group of children from an English class, and she asked if we would be willing to speak with them so they could practice. We said we’d love to, so we each had two children come stand in front of us. They ranged in age from probably about seven to thirteen. They asked us basic questions like, “What is your name?” and “Where are you from?” I spoke with two eleven-year-old boys, and when they were done, a boy who appeared to be about twelve or thirteen. One of the eleven-year-olds got creative and asked me what my favorite kind of music is (I kind of rambled on my answer and I think he couldn’t understand it) and what my favorite movie is. I asked him his favorite movie and he said, “Despicable Me.” The other boy was wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, so I said, “I can tell what movie you like.” He said yes, so I think he understood me. It was fun speaking with them. After that, we’d had enough walking, so we caught a bus that went to Palmas and rode it to the corner of Palmas and Avenida de las Fuentes, which is the street we live on. From there it’s an easy downhill walk of just a few blocks to get to Teca Once.


Ron couldn't resist buying a hot dog from a vendor before we left Chapultepec Park.

Often when we take buses, the corner of Palmas and Avenida de las Fuentes is where we get off.  There is an OfficeMax on the corner there that we sometimes go to and a flower shop in the median where we sometimes buy flowers, so it is a corner we’re at fairly often. When we first got here, we saw this woman there several times. She would go out into the street during red lights and juggle for tips. Her little boy, who appeared to be about three, was always with her, clinging to her skirt. Then we stopped seeing her and several months passed. In the past couple of weeks, we started seeing her there again. Now she wears a sling around her shoulder, and we realized there is a baby in that sling—which probably explains why she wasn’t there for those months. I do not know where she lives or any of the details of her life, but from her appearance and demeanor, I assume her circumstances are very humble. We give her tips and Ron buys her and her little boy treats from a vendor on the corner, but I wish there was more we could do for her. I worry about her little boy being out there among the cars, and I worry what she will do when that baby gets more mobile and won’t stay in a sling all day. I know she is just one of millions of people here who live in poverty, but for me, she is the one who has a face.



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