Photographs, Flags, and Stained Glass

 Thursday Alfredo told us he had two tickets to a special viewing of the World Press Photo Exhibition that evening but couldn’t go. He asked if we wanted them. We didn’t know what the World Press Photo Exhibition was, but it sounded like it might be interesting, so we said, “Sure.” After that, we looked it up so we’d at least have some idea of what the event was. World Press Photo is a foundation based in Amsterdam which holds an annual competition for professional photojournalists. This year, over 64,000 photographs from over 4,000 photographers from all over the world were entered in the contest. The exhibition was of the top 122 photographs. It was held in the Franz Mayer Museum, which is in a lovely old building we’d never been to before. People can view the photographs at the museum during its regular hours, but this was a special “by invitation only” viewing. When we arrived, we had to tell the “gatekeepers” we were Angelique’s guests. (Alfredo had told her we’d be coming in his place.) They called her over, and she was so welcoming and gracious. She led us to an inner courtyard in the building where people were waiting for the viewing to begin. As we waited, a man came over to us and struck up a conversation. His name was Juan Carlos. He works as a life coach and motivational speaker. He is not a member of our church but is very familiar with it and considers himself a friend of the Church. He was fun to talk with, even though I could only understand about a fourth of what he said. After we viewed the photos, Angelique directed us back to the courtyard where they were serving drinks and hors d’ouevres. Juan Carlos came and sat at our table with us, and we spoke for quite a while more. By then it was getting dark outside. He asked how we would be going home, and we said we would call an Uber. When we got up to leave, he got up too and walked out with us, casually continuing to talk. After we had an Uber accept, he said he would stay with us until it came. He told us the area we were in was fairly safe, but he thought we would be safer if he stayed. The area is across from the Palacio Bellas Artes, which is a busy area, but there is a park there in which a lot of homeless people stay. One time when we were there, we had a woman tell us to be very careful. I think it was very sweet of him to be concerned about us, and we appreciated him looking out for us.


Our new friend, Juan Carlos

The Franz Mayer Museum
     
The courtyard inside the Franz Meyer museum
     


The photographs in the exhibition were truly amazing. Since things that are news are usually bad, the photos showed much of the pain of the world from the past year—natural disasters, war, oppression, etc. At times as we looked at them, I thought, “Right now there is someone somewhere in the world living under those conditions,” and it was almost beyond my ability to comprehend.  The winner was especially haunting. It was of a memorial to the children who died at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, and who are buried in unmarked graves on the school’s property. (If you are not familiar with this, you can Google it, but I will warn you it is a heart wrenching story.) The memorial consists of wooden crosses that have either child sized red dresses or orange shirts on them. This is the first photograph to win the World Press Photo competition that doesn’t have a person in it, but the purpose of the memorial (and this photograph) was to make these invisible children visible.


The winning photograph, though "winning" seems an odd word for a picture of such a heartbreaking subject.
     
A photo from Greece

A photo from Palestine

     

A photo from Brazil
   
This photo was from a Mexican photographer and was in a category where they were allowed to alter the photos. He scraped and punctured the photograph to illustrate the violence and pain being caused by the poppy trade (opium) in the Mexican state of Guerrero.


A sad thing happened at Teca Once two weeks ago. A man who had been living here for several months and who had severe health problems, took his own life. It has been difficult, especially for some of the staff here. Abram, who is one of the security people, suggested we have a memorial prayer service, and invited all of us missionaries to come. We held it early one morning at the time when the security shifts were changing and the maids were arriving. That way they could all be here. If was brief. Ron gave a prayer and some of the people expressed their feelings. I think it was a healing time. Many different faiths were represented there, including the daughter of Teca Once’s owner, who we believe is Jewish. Yet, everyone expressed their belief in life after death. In that faith and hope, we were all united.



We have an important event this week, and Gustavo wanted to have two nice Mexican flags for it. He asked Ron and I to get them. We are getting close to the Mexican Independence Day, so flags are everywhere, but not necessarily high quality ones. I looked online and found a place which sold flags that appeared to be good ones, but it didn’t seem like it had a store, at least not a physical one. I was hesitant to order them online without seeing the quality, so Ron called to see if there was a place we see them. It took some talking, but they finally agreed we could go that afternoon to their “factory.” We gave the address to an Uber driver and rode in his car for about an hour to an area close to the airport. When we arrived, it wasn’t an area where you would expect a factory. In fact, it was a residential neighborhood, and we weren’t sure which house we were supposed to go to. We found a guy working on a car and asked him. He directed us down a little lane and around a corner, and there it was. The factory turned out to be the ground level floor of a house. Fabric was piled on almost every surface, and partial flags were hanging everywhere. We told them what we wanted, and they brought them out for us to see. Their flags were made of high quality fabric and the emblem was embroidered. They were exactly what we were looking for, so we bought two and the stands to go with them. The trick then was getting home. This was not the type of area where there are a lot of Ubers hanging around waiting to get a call. We walked back to the main street--though that makes it sound like a bigger street than it was--to try to get an Uber. No luck. So we walked a few blocks and tried again. No luck. Meanwhile taxis were passing by us in an almost steady stream. We tried hailing them, but no luck. Finally, one pulled over across the street, and Ron hurried over to see if he would take us. The driver said sorry but he’d come to get his wife to take her to lunch. At that point we figured this must be the neighborhood where all the taxi drivers live, and they weren’t looking for fares there, they were looking for lunch. Finally, on about our fourth try, we got an Uber, so we made it home. We set up one of the flags in our office to make sure everything was okay. The next day Alfredo and Gustavo came in and were very impressed. They both took their pictures next to it.


We planned a trip to Toluca for Saturday and asked if any of the other Teca Once missionaries wanted to go with us. Everyone did! So we told Nacho, our tour manager, that we needed a bigger vehicle. We rode in a twenty passenger van and had it just about full. First, we drove to an archeological site called Teotenango, which sits on the top of a hill. It’s small compared to some of the other archeological sites in Mexico, but it was still very amazing to see the ruins and climb on these centuries old pyramids. Nacho told us that building on this site is estimated to have begun in 800 A.D. Different groups controlled it at different times. He also said the people would have lived in the valley and used this site for worship and as a fortress for protection in the case of war.

Nacho telling us about the ruins
   

   
To give you an idea of the massive size of these structures, look at Pauline Davie walking in front of the wall.
    
We haven't run into a lot of wind here in Mexico, but it was windy on top of that hill. I couldn't get my hair to stay down while we took this selfie. Behind and below us in the valley you can see a neighborhood of a single road lined with houses. Ron said he thought he could stand to buy one of those houses and retire here--if only our grandchildren weren't so far away.

     

     
I loved seeing flowers growing right in the ancient walls.

     

     
This was a Mesoamerican ball court.
     
This is a jaguar carved into a stone. Jaguars were symbols of power and royalty.
     

    
We had to hike up this trail to get to the ruins and then walk back down when we were done.

     
This little cutie's mom was selling cookies at the base of the trail. We bought some, and I asked the woman if it was okay if I took a picture of her little girl. She said yes, but the little girl didn't want anything to do with it. She turned away when I pulled out my phone and refused to look at me.

After we finished at Teotenango, we drove to Toluca and went to Cosmovitral, which is a botanical garden inside a building roughly the size of a football field. The building was built in 1910 as the 16 de Septiembre Market in honor of the centennial of Mexico’s independence. In 1975 the market was closed, and for a while the building sat empty. Then it was decided to turn it into a work of art. The large windows were replaced with fabulous stained glass, and the garden was created. It also had soft, soothing music playing in it, so it was really a lovely place. The stained glass is meant to show man and his relationship to the Universe. At one end is a large piece called Hombre Sol or Sun Man, which is the centerpiece of the art.


 


    

    

    

    

     

   

     


After spending some time enjoying Cosmovitral, we walked across the street and ate a late lunch at a restaurant there. We’d been told to be sure to try the chorizo verde in Toluca. Chorizo verde means green sausage, which doesn’t sound all that appealing, but it really was good. Another recommendation we’d received was to have machetes, which are called that because they are basically tacos the size of a machete. Some of the group ordered those. The food was good and company great, so it was an awesome day.




     

I loved Janise Everett's reaction to her "machete"
     
I should have taken a photo of this platter before we dug into it, but forgot. The dark green stuff is the chorizo verde. This came with a massive amount of freshly made tortillas. The menu said it would feed four people, but I think it would have fed twice that many!
     
I loved this tile wall in the restaurant

We spent Sunday at the CCM. It is wonderful to go there and be around the young missionaries. Sunday was fast and testimony meeting, and the Spirit was so sweet as these young people stood up and did the best they could to bear their testimonies in Spanish. Often the lapsed back into English, but I had to give them credit for trying. We only go there twice a week, and we missed Wednesday because Ron had a cold and we didn’t want to spread it. So we’ve really spent very little time with these young people, but they already have my heart! It will be sad in two weeks to say good-bye to our first group, but we will be happy to see them heading out for their mission assignments.

I can see that spending Sundays at the CCM is going to make it hard to get my blog done on Sunday evening, so don’t be surprised if it’s late for the next few weeks. There’s a good reason!

 

 

Comments

  1. Dayle, I don't usually comment, but I want you to know that I truly enjoy reading about your amazing experiences and seeing all of you beautiful photos. Tell Ron to buy the Cosmovitral and I will retire there with you guys 😉

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm not sure who "Klem" is, so do you mind telling me?

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