Friday, May 31, 2013

tricia guest post day 7

This morning we went to the car wash. I know, I know, this doesn't seem worth mentioning. But really, you don't do anything in Argentina without it being an experience. We dropped the car off and walked to a Swedish bakery. Then we took our goodies back and ordered hot chocolate at the car wash cafe (complete with a waiter to serve the table...I'm not kidding).

Once the car was finally through the car wash, we headed downtown to the South America South Area Offices. My dad had some business to take care of with a member of the Area Presidency to prepare for their upcoming mission tour, and my mom needed to sort some things out with her new phone and the iPad she had me smuggle in. It was really just interesting to hang out there and to see the coordination and effort of so many people to keep the church running smoothly.
While we were driving around, my dad got a phone call from one of his missionaries that had been robbed again. They have the cheapest $5 cell phones, but for Argentines, it's actually a pretty nice cell phone. Turns out, the missionary was robbed by a guy holding a door knob (with the hinges attached), which I just found kind of unsettling and weirdly hysterical.

Mom and me outside Recoleta

We had tickets tonight with Elder and Sister Ashton to hear the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra at the Teatro Colon. They played Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 9 in C major, "The Great" and they had a soloist named Lucas Guinot who played the vibraphone. It was a fantastic privilege to listen to the beautiful music in such a beautiful place.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

guest post by tricia #6

From the buenosaireswest blog:
photoWe started out the day learning the news that there is yet another strike in Buenos Aires. DSC01229Over 100 roadblocks on all the major freeways and highways were planned. It was ultimately decided that the North mission would have their own conference and that the South Mission and the CCM would meet with our mission at the Ramos Mejia building. Suddenly, everyone had to be in route right that moment, for a meeting that would take place two and a half hours earlier than planned.
Even avoiding the known locations, we had a really difficult time getting to the building ourselves. Three lanes of freeway were bulging at the seams with six lanes of cars. [And what she doesn't say is that we actually saw the smoking remnants of things that had been on fire on the freeway just minutes before.] We arrived just minutes before the start.
Elder Cook shook the hand of each and every missionary [and mine! and mine!]…even the late arrivals were asked to go to the back when he finished speaking. Both Sister Cook and Elder Cook shared their love and messages with us. It was an extraordinary opportunity for us as a mission and we basked in the joy of what we experienced afterwards in an impromptu meeting for just our mission. [I have never seen so many missionaries in one place. It was extraordinary. Singing all the verses of Called to Serve with them (there are 4 in Spanish) was awesome.]
At the meeting, I sat next to some hermanas in the CCM. One of them was 19 and is headed to Uruguay. That's my first time meeting 19 year old sisters in the field. Having everyone together allowed for one unique experience. The South missionaries told one of the sisters serving in the West mission that her dad had set a baptismal date. You can read that extraordinary story here.
My mom, dad, Brianna and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at sunset on the racetrack at Rosa Negra 1000.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

guest post by tricia #4 and #5

Can I just say we were awful about taking pictures this trip?
Monday we went into downtown so I could place an order for tango shoes. I bought one pair off the rack and my mom and I designed another pair to be made. I got a fantastic deal by purchasing them with American dollars, which will no doubt be sold on the "blue market." My mom was fantastically patient with me. I'm kind of a mess when it comes to being creative, but I do usually end up pretty happy when it's all over with.
Other highlights of the day included driving past a park where it looked like all the dogs had been drugged. There were dozens of dogs, each sitting quietly alone, basking in the sun. I think it was freaky because they kind of seemed like people.
We ate lunch at Carlito's and had a tennis lesson with Pablo. I love that I'm a frequent enough visitor that he remembers my name.
On Tuesday, my mom and I headed to the temple. It was so stormy, we could actually hear the thunder during the session. After we were finished, we ran into the Temple President, who recognized my mom. She asked if he would show me his office. On our little tour, he congratulated me on having the parents that I do. I seriously loved that! Thank you, yes, I worked so hard at that. I'm glad they've turned out so amazing too.
While the Temple President's office had some great furniture, I really noticed the Matron's office. There isn't a word that means Matron exactly in Spanish, so she is known as the Directora. I think having the men be Presidents and the women being the Directors sounds about right. I loved the artwork she had in her office.
And, as if to underscore how famoso my parents are, a couple came up to my mom and I while we were in the lobby waiting for our remis. My mom wasn't sure who they were at first. But of their backpack, they pulled a copy of a picture of them with my parents at the temple open house from September. Seriously, they carry around a picture of my parents with them. Kind of weird since I don't even do that, but really sweet at the same time.

Finally our remis came and we headed back to the mission office. On the way there, it was raining and the taxi's windshield wipers just stopped working. I tell you this a) so you can get a sense of the car we were in and b) so you can relive my fear with me. The windows were fogging up and we were driving through the rain on the freeway in Argentina without wipers. I was literally praying to please just let it not rain too badly and just let us get safely to the mission office. It's only about 15 minutes away, but there were a couple of parts where I just had to close my eyes and not look. This was really a hair-raising experience for this particular control freak, that's for sure.
At the office, I ate all good candy out of the Elder's stash. With my parents, I never know when I'm going to eat again. It's especially true when we wait for my dad. It's kind of a party hanging out in the office, but I get the feeling it's not quite the same when I'm not there. Not that I'm the life of the party by any means, just that I'm...something different.
And then my dad (who didn't make us wait too long, for once) took us to eat at Demetria. It's a yummy, health foodie kind of restaurant not far from their house. If I lived there, I would go there once a week. He complained about it, but he had to admit, it was delicious. I liked the waiter who told me hello as I was leaving. Bonus points for trying.
And then we went to Jumbo and walked around Unicenter. I went there 12 years ago when I visited my parents here before, but haven't made it yet on any subsequent trips. The place is always packed. We struck out on a movie, but decided to go home and watch something on Netflix. I introduced my parents to the beauty of Netflix (Brianna, you owe me) and we had a blast watching The Family Man together.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

guest post by tricia #3

Today my parents were asked to speak in church about 45 minutes away. In the past when we have visited buildings in their mission, my parents have had the only car. Today there were actually a handful in the parking lot. This car definitely caught my eye:

If you look closely, you can see a club lock on the steering wheel. If recognizing that this car is someone's prized possession doesn't add some perspective to your day, I don't know what will.
The Argentine Saints are humble, dedicated, hard-working and just plain beautiful. It's hard not to fall in love with them.
My dad had some extra meetings so the office elders picked me, my mom and Brianna up and drove us home after sacrament meeting. I'm not going to lie, that's definitely my kind of church. But, to be fair, I was pretty tired after listening in Spanish for over an hour. But Brianna was impressed I sort of knew what was even going on!
We ate lunch with the office elders and I told them about some things back home. Brianna and I kept them entertained with some funny stories about my parents too. I think they were amazed we are actually just a real, normal family.
In the evening, the four of us played dominoes. Brianna and I rocked the house. My dad and I also checked out the Indy 500 results via the Internet. Shockingly, neither one of us took home a trophy this year. ;)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

guest post by tricia #2

Today is a holiday in Argentina. I always joke that there is always a holiday in Argentina, and they definitely have more than their fair share. But this one is legit. It's their 4th of July. Here's a picture we took on our way into town:

It seems as if there is a street named 25 of May in every neighborhood, and there is also a town with that name in the Buenos Aires West mission.
We started the day shopping in Palermo Viejo. My parents took me to the most darling bakery called Le Pain Quotidien. They have them in California and up and down the eastern seaboard, so I will definitely be seeking them out here. We sat in a outdoor courtyard filled with old bricks, tile and potted plants. They had overhead heating to ward off the chill of the fall day. But it was pure loveliness.
Then the main attraction of our day was taking a Graffiti Tour. Apparently, I only made it in one picture all day:

Here's my mom's blog about the day, all cleaned up for the missionary moms and dads. Check out my thoughts at the bottom for the real dirt.
Buenos Aires' welcoming attitude toward graffiti has made it one of the world's top capitals for international street muralists, showcasing well-known urban artists such as Blu of Italy, Jef Aerosol of France, Aryz of Spain, Roa of Belgium, and Ron English of the United States. We went on a graffiti tour in the city called Hidden Walls. We learned all kinds of stuff about graffiti. Since I knew nothing about graffiti art to start with, I found it all pretty interesting. One of the groups that is particularly active in Buenos Aires right now always incorporates the sun into their work. The picture at the top shows firefighters working in La Boca. The two works at the bottom show mother’s that are struggling to find their children who were stolen during one of the past dictatorships.DSC01167DSC01169DSC01171 DSC01067We went to another part of the city and actually ran into an artist who was painting a piece about La Boca!DSC01180
DSC01070I doubt that I would have recognized it on my own, but as soon as the guide explained it to us, it made perfect sense!
La Boca is such a well-known section of the city that has become very famous. Very often when you see pictures of the city, you see pictures of this neighborhood.
So, it became easier to identify the houses sitting on the shoulders of the Italian immigrants that first settled there.
I would like to go back and see how it turns out when the piece has been completed.
While a lot of graffiti is done with spray paint, it can also be done with latex paint. We saw quite of bit of graffiti done with stencils, as well.


We learned that the life of a piece of graffiti is only about 3 years. In any scenario, after 3 years, if another artist wants to cover your space, it is considered acceptable. If you want to paint over someone’s work sooner, you better be careful or you might find all of your own works covered, in a sort of graffiti war.
The child below features in several graffiti works in the city. He was originally in a newspaper waving a flag. The artist used the piece to make a stencil but shows him with a paintbrush instead. When the plastic for stencils became very expensive during the last economic crisis, the artists used old x-ray sheets. Up close we could see the patchwork of those sheets. This particular building is a newspaper company. The owner got tired of political activists painting his building and actually hired several famous graffiti artists to come and paint his building…so it should be safe for a few years now.
We continued on to another part of the city with many old warehouses. Some of them are still in use as businesses, and we saw some that have been sort of renovated and serve as indoor soccer facilities, for example.
To improve the area, an art jam was held last November. Some of the famous graffiti artists listed above, as well as many others came from all over the world  and spent three days painting. Many of them worked together incorporating their ideas into giant pieces that may or may have a theme.
DSC01095This maiden has been captured and sits in a boat at sea. I found the guard dog particularly entertaining.


My personal favorite was the giant sea turtle. The man with the dog painted below it are life size. Really, it is very hard to portray how big and impressive this piece, and the others are, that we saw on the tour. This was done by Argentine muralist, Martin Ron. He actually came back in March this year and fixed some of the details that had started to fade.
DSC01213This one was done by two United States artists. When they were given this space on an Italian ice cream factory, they asked for a little history. They learned that when the economy collapsed in 2001, and the owners could no longer pay the workers, they all showed up at the factory anyway, and kept on working.  The last hand that would complete the unity symbol is nearby, next to the ice cream cones. The 41 ice cream cones each represent one of the workers.

____________________________________________________________OK, so I have to say that this was super-duper cool. I can't wait to take my kids on a tour. But it won't be this one. For one thing, we went to some seedy areas. Like the minibus followed us as we walked along the street and the guide told us we had to stay together and if she said, "Get in the bus," she meant, GETINTHEBUSRIGHTNOW. That was a little surreal. Thankfully, there were extra cops out, probably for the holiday, and the streets seemed extra quiet. So that was good.
To finish the tour, we drove through a part of town that the guide said we should never go to because it was full of gang members and hookers. And there were. Because I saw them. But at that moment, I also found myself saying these words: "Oh look, there's one of our chapels."
No joke.
We also went to a beautiful street called Calle Lanin. An artist, Marino Santa Maria, decided to transform the ugly street he grew up on by painting in contrasting colors and covering the building with mosaics. They have been working on it for over 10 years. This is the artist's house:

We ended our day at Morelia's. Yum