Friday, May 13, 2011

Lost Treasures, Part I

While unpacking last week [1], I found my old analog camera and a few rolls of 35mm film. In the pouch on the camera case, stuffed underneath a spare battery and the empty case for the roll of film still in the camera, were two pieces of paper. One of them was a record of the photographs I took in February and March of the year 2000, the first two months I was serving my mission in Monterrey, México.[2] This occupied two rolls of film. I ran into a man who was traveling to the U.S. for a mission reunion, who offered to take some things back to Utah for me. I made a package and dropped the first roll of film into it. He called my parents from Provo, Utah, to let them know that he had the package that I'd sent. But he never got back in touch with them. And I never saw him again back in México. My parents never received the package. So that roll of film is undoubtedly lost forever. But here, with some notes, is the list I kept:

1–4. me, fam, etc. @ airport 02/00
  • I left the MTC in February and boarded a plane for Houston, Texas. My family met me at the Salt Lake City, Utah airport before I left. In Houston I boarded a rickety plane headed for Monterrey (which means "King Mountain"). When I left Utah there were several inches of snow on the ground and it was near freezing. When I got off the plane in Monterrey (directly onto the tarmacadam, no less) it was over 80°F! In February!
5–10. ? ? ? Altamira stairs ? ? ? Catholic cathedral ? ? ? (E. Fast) ? ? ?
  • The question marks indicate that I don't remember how many pictures I took of each, not doubts as to whether I photographed any of these things.
  • Altamira ("Highview") [3] was a colonia ("neighborhood") in my first area in Monterrey.[4] It is one of the poorer areas of Monterrey, and essentially amounts to a shantytown. The houses are practically built one on top of the other, all the way up a hill, called Loma Larga ("Long Hill"). Most of the houses are illegally hooked up to the power lines. Steep, treacherous, incondite stairs led in a relatively straight shot up to the top. On my first day we went proselyting there. We offered help to a man who was carrying cinder blocks half way up the stairs. It was simply grueling.
  • On one of our P-days [5] we visited a local Catholic Cathedral. I experienced a little bit of culture shock since I was not expecting there to be a glass coffin with a simulated corpse of Jesus Christ inside of it. Or the many statues and images of Catholic Saints.
  • I do not remember who Elder Fast was, but he was probably just in one of the pictures I took at the Cathedral. However, the missionaries in my mission liked to take pictures of themselves whenever they found an unattended camera. We called it picando los ojos ("picking/poking the eyes"). It's also possible that this is how I ended up with a photograph of Elder Fast.
11–15. La Cola del Caballo
  • On another P-day we hiked to an 80-foot waterfall, called Cola de Caballo which is found in Cumbres de Monterrey National Park. The name of the waterfall means "Horse Tail" and the name of the park means "Summits of Monterrey". You can see a photograph of it here. Several months later a sister missionary twisted her ankle on the trail to the waterfall. So even though the "hike" didn't really change in elevation, the Area Authority prohibited the missionaries from engaging in any more "high adventure" activities on their P-days.
16. "plancha" Zone Conference 02/00
  • LDS missionaries are organized into "companionships" of 2–3 missionaries, "districts" of 4–10 missionaries, zones of 6–30 missionaries, and missions of 200–400 missionaries. A "senior companion" is in charge of a companionship; a "district leader" is in charge of a district; a "zone leader" is in charge of a zone; and a "mission president" is in charge of a mission. District meetings are held weekly and zone meetings are held monthly. Zone conferences, where several zones met together for instruction from the mission president, were held twice a year in my mission.
  • The word plancha refers to an iron (the kind used for ironing, not the metal). However, the missionaries in the México Monterrey Sur mission also used it as slang to refer to a doggy-pile. For some reason it was a tradition to do a doggy-pile on a Zone Leader who was being transferred. I'm not sure how I ended up with this photograph since I'm pretty sure I ended up in this plancha. At least, I remember not being able to breathe and getting my glasses bent out of shape.
17–19. Monterrey PM from Altamira 02/00
  • A night shot of Monterrey from colony Altamira on the hill Loma Linda. Loma Linda was tall enough to get some pretty decent shots. (On the East Coast of the U.S. they'd probably call it a mountain.) It had houses on it all the way to the top and down the other side.
20. Yabi, Daniel, Bravo, me post-bap 02/00
  • Daniel Torres and his wife Yabidia (Yabi for short) were the the first people I helped get baptized in the Church. That is, Daniel and Yabi had to get married before they could get baptized. But by the time we took them down into the baptismal font, Yabi was his wife.
21. El Cerro de la Silla from Altamira 02/00
  • El Cerro de la Silla ("Saddle Hill") is an iconic mountain which sits at the south end of the city Monterrey. Technically it is in the adjacent city, Guadalupe, but it has become the symbol of Monterrey and of the state of Nuevo León ("New Lion"). It gets its name from its resemblance to a saddle. You can see a photograph someone else took, to the right.
22. Marla, Claudia, Ruís, Daniel, me @ Pizza Hut 02/00
  • Later on I helped a man named Elmer Luna get baptized. If I remember correctly, Claudia was his mother and Marla Luna was his sister (but it could be the other way around.) Both of them were baptized into the Church several months before I arrived. Marla had two daughters who were the cutest little girls I ever saw. Alas, I forget their names but I remember that their ages (when I was there): 7 and 5. Elmer's wife, who (interestingly enough) was studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses, but didn't express any opposition to Daniel becoming a Latter-day Saint. Much to my mother's chagrin, I gave him one of my ties so he'd have something to wear to Church.
23. Altamira, from city center 02/00
  • On one of our rare excursions to the middle of the valley, I took a photograph of my area from a distance.
  • In some cases I neglected to write down what I had photographed. I guess that makes this one doubly lost since I've lost the film and I didn't keep a record.
25. La Campana from Casa Cadena 03/00
  • I don't remember who the Cadena ("Chain") family was, but apparently I did some photography from their casa ("house"). Cerro de la Campana [6] was the hill directly south of Altamira. La campana means "the bell", referring to the perceived shape of the hill.


[1] See my post Out of the Old and Into the New.

[2] For those who are unsure why Latter-day Saints (Mormons) go on missions, I recommend you visit here and here, where you can learn more about LDS beliefs concerning sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you have more questions, ask and maybe I'll do a full post on the topic.

[3] You can see satellite imagery of Colonia Altamira here.

[4] Incidentally, the Mission offices were in my area.

[5] P-day is short for Preparation Day, the day that missionaries use to wash their laundry, write letters home, and engage in wholesome recreation.

[6] You can see satellite imagery of Colonia Cerro de la Campana here.

Image attributions:

Cerro de la Silla is by Nathaniel C. Sheetz, available at de la Silla.jpg.

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