Saying Good-bye and Visiting a Castle

The Davises went home on Friday. This was very emotional for me for two reasons. First, the Davises shared the 5th floor at Teca Once with us (there are only two apartments on that floor), and we loved having them for neighbors. Sometimes when we had parties for the senior missionaries, we would both open our front doors and use both apartments. David Davis was an executive secretary to the Area Presidency, which is a very time consuming job, so they weren’t always able to go with us on our adventures, but we always loved it when they could. They both have funny senses of humor and were delightful to have in the group. We enjoyed their company and will miss them very much. The second reason that having them leave was emotional for me is that they arrived in Mexico one day before we did, and since we both originally were called to serve for eighteen months, they’re going home means we would have gone home this week too if we hadn’t extended. I received such a strong impression that we were supposed to extend that I don’t doubt we’re supposed to stay, and we are excited to be helping with the project that is keeping us here. Still, knowing that I could be home hugging my grandbabies did cause me to shed a few tears this week.     

The Davises with Abram, Leila, and Jesus from Teca Once.

Before she left, Pauline Davis wanted to do a little shopping, so Tuesday, she, Vicki Deaver, Pat Frandsen, and I left the office a little early and caught an Uber to the historic center of the city. There is a building there which is full of booths selling many of the same artisanal crafts that are sold by the street vendors and at the craft markets. The prices there are usually a little better than what we can buy things for at other places. I bought a new dress there, and some beaded birds. I’ve seen those birds in other places and thought I’d like to get a bunch to use as Christmas tree ornaments. The booth they were in was towards the front of the building. As we went in, I asked how much the birds were, and the girl said, “Setenta pesos” (70 pesos.) I knew that was a good price because they were 100 pesos at other places I’ve seen them. So on our way back out, I decided to buy ten of them--five red and five gold. The girl running the booth was watching another customer who was looking through a pile of backpacks, so I waited patiently for her to come help us. (Vicki Deaver was with me and wanted a couple of birds too.) She just kept ignoring us. Since she wasn’t actually helping the other customer, only watching her, I finally selected ten birds and went over to her. She looked at what I was holding and said they were “Cien pesos,” (100 pesos.) I was taken back by that and said, “Si compro diez?” (If I buy ten?) She started talking in a tone, which said, “Don’t bother me.” I didn’t catch everything she said, but I did recognize, “El precio es el precio.” (The price is the price.) Because of her manner and that she had changed the price on me, I decided not to buy the birds. Pauline had been with me when the girl originally said, “Setenta pesos,” and when she heard what had happened, she took me back to the booth. The Davises were previously mission leaders in Peru and temple missionaries in Chile, so Pauline is fluent in Spanish. She said to the girl, “You told us these were setenta pesos, but now you told her they are cien pesos!” The girl said, “If you buy more than one they’re setenta. They are cien for one.” I’m pretty sure that’s not what she told me, but I did get my birds for setenta pesos! Then as Vicki and I exited the building, a woman saw our badges and started asking us questions. I managed the first couple, but then I couldn’t understand what she was asking. So I went and got Pauline to talk to the woman. It turned out she was asking if we knew when Jesus is going to return. Pauline was able to have quite a conversation with her. I’m not sure we’ll be able to have any more “girls” excursions without her here to speak for us.     

Vicki at the market. Pauline is in the background talking to the woman who wanted to know when Christ is coming.
My new dress.
The birds that caused the kerfuffle.

We had our official farewell dinner for the Davises last Sunday, but that was too far ahead of their departure to be our final get together. So Wednesday evening a bunch of us walked to Prado Norte to have dinner at Reubens, a hamburger place the Deavers discovered there. It was also a welcome dinner for the Arguetas, who are replacing the Davises. This is the Arguetas second mission. Previously, they were serving as humanitarian missionaries, and we got to know them through that. At that time, they lived in their home, which is near the temple. However, it is a long commute to make every morning from there to the area offices, so for this mission, they are living at Teca Once. They are quite young compared to the rest of us senior missionaries. They have a successful business, which their children have taken over, allowing them to serve missions.  That is a tremendous blessing to both them and the Church!     

The Arguetas are the cute couple at the far end of the table.

We also said good-bye to Jesus this week. I know that sounds funny to say, but Jesus is a common name here, and the Jesus I’m referring to has been the maintenance man at Teca Once. He is retiring, and Saturday was his last day. We had plans for the day, so we had his farewell party as a breakfast that morning. Pat Frandsen made some heavenly cinnamon rolls for it, and Ron made a little speech thanking him. Jesus is a very quiet man, who doesn’t seem comfortable being the center of attention, but he seemed to be touched by the tribute.

After the breakfast, We, the Deavers, and the Frandsens headed to Chapultepec Castle. Ron and I went to it once before shortly after we got here. We didn’t know our way around then and got lost trying to get to Chapultepec Park. When we got there, we wandered around for awhile and stumbled upon the path leading up the hill to the castle. It’s a bit of a climb, and by the time we got to the castle, we were tired. We went in an entrance and found a museum about the history of Mexico. I couldn’t read the Spanish signs which explained things, so I went through it pretty fast. We then looked at the view from the garden outside the castle and figured that was it—we’d done the castle. Later, someone showed us pictures from their visit to the castle, and we thought, “Wait a minute, we didn’t see any of that.” It turns out we missed most of what there is to see at the castle, so we had to go back.

The castle sits upon Chapultepec Hill (Chapultepec means “grasshopper”), which was the highest point in Mexico City when it was built. (There are now buildings taller than the hill.) It was built in 1785 as a summer residence for the Viceroy when Spain ruled “New Spain,” the name they gave Mexico. It was abandoned during the Mexican revolution, but later became a military academy. It was the site of a famous battle during the Mexican-American War. (If you’ve ever listened to the Marine Corps Hymn and wondered, “Where are the Halls of Montezuma?” here’s your answer--that phrase refers to Chapultepec Castle.) During the battle of Chapultepec, forces from the United States were attacking the military academy. Six young men, known as the Ninos Heroes (boy heroes) fought especially valiantly to defend the castle. They refused to fall back when their general called for retreat. Instead, they fought to the death. Legend has it that when there was only one of them left alive, he took the Mexican flag to keep it from falling into enemy hands and jumped from the roof of the castle down off the hill to his death. About twenty years later, the castle became the home of Emperor Maximilian and his wife, Empress Charlotte. Because of them, Chapultepec Castle is the only “castle” in North America that actually served as a royal residence. Most of the rooms and items on display there now are from the three years they reigned in Mexico. During those years, Reforma Avenue was built. At that time is ran straight from the castle to the Zocalo—the heart of the city and the government. Now it curves just before it reaches Chapultepec Park, and the last section of the original avenue is a walkway in the park. About twenty years after Maximilian’s reign, the castle became the official residence of the President of Mexico. It remained that until 1934, when it became the museum it is today.     



Part of a mural depicting the Mexican revolution
This painting was on a ceiling and commemorates the last of the nino heroes who saved the Mexican flag from falling into American hands.
Besides the gardens we saw the first time we visited the castle, there are rooftop gardens as well.
How would you like this as the entrance to your home!?!

These stained glass windows are located above the stairway in the previous picture.

This photo and the next one show just a few of the pieces of jewelry that belonged to the Empress Charlotte. She was a Belgium princess and a cousin to England's Queen Victoria.
I thought big earrings first came into fashion in the 1980's but the earrings in the upper left corner of this photo showed me otherwise. They were about three inches long.

This was Maximilian and Charlotte's carriage.
This was their dining room. This, and all the other rooms, opened onto an outside terrace that encircled that entire wing of the castle.

Here we are standing on the outside terrace. The tall building on the left in the background is the Ritz Carlton where we had lunch.
These paintings are of Maximilian and Charlotte.
Charlotte's bedroom...

...and her bathroom. Water to fill this tub had to be carried up the hill to the castle.

This was one of six stained glass windows depicting  Greek Goddesses.

I took this from the upper terrace looking down at statues depicting the six ninos heroes.

 Our visit to the castle on Saturday was eye opening as we realized how much of it we had missed on our first visit. In fact, on this visit we didn’t even go into the section we saw before, and we still spent hours there! When we finished at the castle, we planned to go on the train in the park again because neither the Deavers nor the Frandsens have done that before. However, there was a long line for the train, and we were tired and hungry by then. The schools here have been out for spring break for the past two weeks, and school starts back up on Monday. Saturday it seemed as if all the families in the city were trying to get in their last bit of fun before the vacation ends because the park was more crowded than we have ever seen it. We decided the train could wait for another day. Instead, we walked to the Ritz Carlton, which is across Reforma Avenue from the park, and had lunch in the restaurant at the top of the building, the 58th floor. It had floor to ceiling windows which gave fabulous views of the park and the city. I had to take pictures through the glass, so they have a little bit of glare, but the view was so good that I couldn’t pass on taking photos despite the glare.
This is a view of Chapultepec Park from the top of the Ritz Carlton building. You can see the castle in the center of the photo. The large white structure is a monument to the six nino heroes.

This photo was taken from the other side of the Ritz Carlton building. The long straight avenue is Reforma. At the center of the first roundabout is the fountain of Diana, and at the center of the second one is the Angel of Independence.

Today we attended Stake Conference. As we were waiting for the meeting to start, I looked around at all the people there, and my heart filled with love and gratitude for them and their faithfulness. It is an honor to be serving here among them.



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