Monday, January 5, 2015


The past year was an adventure! In October we traveled to buenos aires, Argentina to attend a special assembly. It was a wonderful experience! Just the encouragement we needed to continue our adventure in Mexico. Friends from Clifton, AZ also attended. It was very nice to catch up on news from our old home. We traveled LAN airlines. We would definitely chose to travel with them whenever possible. The employees were very customer oriented. The food was good. The plane was clean with each seat having its own screen where you could chose to watch movies, listen to music, watch the flight path, or play a game. It also had ports to charge your electronics. Wine was served with dinner. Snacks were served. They had a gluten free meal for me. Great airline! Before landing the sound system announces that the cabin will be sprayed per Argentina's requirement for insect control. It was done so quickly and calmly that it was over before I had time to think about it.

The Argentina brothers and sisters had waited 20 years to host an international assembly. They were so excited and hospitable. Our schedule was full. They fed us whenever they could. The food was excellent! Wine was full bodied and readily available. Argentina beef is delicious! One day we were taken to an assembly hall to enjoy "a day in the country." The friends showed us their horse skills, vocal talents, barbecue skills, and dancing. There also were llamas, donkeys, and other animals. It was amazing and delicious! We could walk the beautiful grounds pausing to enjoy interactive displays about the local customs. At one point we were invited into the assembly hall auditorium where we enjoyed entertainment by our brothers and sisters. Most were amateur entertainers but some were professionals in their field. One was a brother who spun the balls on the ends of ropes. Very fast, very impressive! The regional dances were delightful! I truly loved this entire day! We were offered wine with our lunch! Best barbecue ever!

One afternoon we were bussed to another assembly hall where we were fed while enjoying local talent of all ages. The children were precious. We were eventually invited into the auditorium where our brothers and sisters who are in the entertainment field performed for us. It was so beautiful! One brother sang opera! Wow! Others played jazz type songs. Some danced. Jehovah's people are certainly a talented bunch! We were not expecting such a spectacular show, what a treat! Interspersed throughout all of the entertainment were interviews of long time servants of Jehovah as well as information about Argentina's theocratic history. All of the performances on all of the days were just wonderful! Well done Argentina! 

We toured Bethel one day. It is not just one location but several buildings close by each other that make up the Argentina branch. The brothers were anticipating many changes with the scheduled move in April 2014 of all the printing to Brazil. It was going to mean many changes for many of the Bethelites. At the Bethel housing area a white tent had been set up to feed us lunch! Yummy! The grounds were beautifully kept. We toured all of the different departments within the branch. Each department gave us a gift. So sweet! The legal department showed us a video about the legal milestones of the preaching work in Argentina. For decades the witnesses were banned. In the afternoon we were ushered into a large building where a stage and seats were set up. Once again we were entertained by our brothers and sisters but this time they were all bethelites! Fun show! After the performances we were fed dinner! What a lovely way to end our day at Bethel! 

We went on a bus tour of the city one afternoon. We did stop in an old part where the original metal clad buildings are still standing. They are painted bright colors. I really wanted to see the inside of one but didn't get a chance to. The area is an artsy/crafty place. Fun but probably best not to go at night. We saw the building where Eva Peron spoke to her populace. It is pinky in color and legend is that the paint was mixed with animal blood. The city is full of ornate older buildings that speak of days past when women still wore fur and men smoked cigars.... In the downtown area many large buildings had been private mansions of the ultra rich but when crime reared it's ugly head the wealthy moved to the country while their former homes were turned into embassies or financial institutions. We did go a local grocery store in the downtown area by our hotel. We noticed that customers would go through the checkout line but their purchases were placed in plastic totes and stacked toward the front of the store. The explanation is that you take what you need right now and the rest of your groceries will be delivered the next day to your home which is probably an apartment in a high rise building. Great system! No one could really tell us the cost of living since most are subsidized. Some are only paying $6 for electricity. Education is free including universities. Medical care is affordable too. The people seem very the downtown area there are many bookstores. So imagine you in your downtown apartment after you put away your groceries enjoying a glass of wine, outstanding steak and a new book! Lovely!

Everyone drinks mate. It is a tea. It can be in a teabag or loose. Usually the tea leaves are placed in your favorite mate cup, some add sugar which is the way I prefer to drink it, then you add hot water. It is sipped from a straw that is usually metal but some are plastic. The mate straw has a strainer at the bottom to prevent the tea leaves from clogging your straw. Now the thing is that once you sipped the liquid "all gone" you are not really done with it for the day. You would simply add more hot water to your cup throughout the day. Mate is supposed to help you sleep and stay awake if that is what you want it to do. It is supposed to boost all around good health. The country is crazy about it. Their are special carriers for your mate cup and hot water thermos. The assembly halls have hot water dispensers to refill your cup or thermos. When asked if you would like a sip the local custom is to sip and thank them. It is thought that the hot water kills any germs or bacteria. I am not in agreement. I was unknowingly rude because I said no thank you whenever I was offered a sip. Didn't know about proper local behavior until the day I was leaving for which I was thankful! Just like coffee there is much talk about only buying mate that has been harvested mindfully. Some companies are plowing up the rain forest to plant mate. Not good for the local vegetation.

We went to a dinner tango show. Delicious and great show. When the waiter poured the wine he also left the bottle! 

The actual special assembly was held at another assembly hall. Beautiful grounds! The seating was in the round. Brother Lett was the guest speaker. The program was in Spanish so Bro. Lett had a translator on the platform with him. He even had his prayer translated saying that it would be better to know what you are saying amen to! Wonderful program! The attendance was about 6,000. Robin listened to the program translated into English on his radio. We were given lunch boxes each day. Our hotel provided a buffet breakfast each day of our stay. The friends were so worried that we would be too hot since the assembly hall was open sided with no a/c only fans to move the air. There was a water bottle station where we could obtain water throughout the day. They were so thoughtful. They even came round to our seats collecting the empty bottles. Argentina recycles! We loved meeting so many Argentina brothers and sisters. 6,000 was just about right to feel close.

Throughout the assembly we met brothers and sisters who were part of the construction team building a new assembly hall by the airport. They would cheerfully remind us that our buses would be stopping by on Sunday on our way back to the hotels after the last session of the assembly. We confirmed that we had been told about this special stop and were excited to see the hall. What we didn't know was what they had planned for us! When our buses arrived we were welcomed by the construction team. The building was almost finished but completion was scheduled for summer if 2014. In what would be the auditorium there was a slideshow showing the progress of the build to that point. And there was....yes! You guessed it! Food! The workers had slabbed a tree that had fallen so that they could use them as tables on sawhorses. Cheeses, breads, sausages, fruit, desserts and drinks were all beautifully presented on these makeshift natural wood tables. Sp pretty! With great fanfare the brothers wheeled in a food cart that had hotdogs for those who didn't want the other food. How thoughtful! A member if the building team was a couple we had met at my sister's home in Santa Barbara! What a small world! Once again we were overwhelmed by such loving hospitality! We have seen pictures of the completed assembly is beautiful!

We went to a wonderful zoo. Beautiful grounds! Always great to see animals! and of course, eat together!

A highlight was going in service with a local congregation. We had the privilege of working with an older couple who are fluent in over 6 languages each...the wife is japanese and the husband is lebanese but they met in Canada in an English congregation. They are now serving in an Armenian congregation but had hoped to serve in Turkey since they do speak Turkish. We worked high rise apartments and rang the apartments and spoke on intercoms! The friends said to smile because the householder can hear it in your voice! We ended our morning by doing some street work. Fun! We returned to the Kingdom Hall where we met for service and enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the friends and.....yes! they entertained us!! One little boy was especially sweet.

I will be giving you a link to see our pictures!

The night before we left we attended the English congregation meeting in downtown Buenos Aires. Beautiful KH in the middle of the is very modern looking with three floors and an elevator.  The first floor had a reception desk and one kingdom hall, the second floor had two kingdom halls and the third floor was apartments for the caretaker and traveling brothers. It was at this meeting that we met a brother from Tabasco who was studying at cooking school and was part of the French congregation but was visiting English that night. Stranger yet was after we moved to Tulum we met a very nice couple, the husband was Canadian but the wife was from Tabasco and the wanttobe chef was her brother!! Small world!

We were so organized the following morning....packed and ready to get the taxi to the airport. Arrived in plenty of time. Made our way up to the counter to be told we were at the wrong place! Wrong counter? Wrong terminal? No! Wrong airport! No one looked at our tickets to see that our return flight was out of a different airport! We didn't know there were two airports. Was it closeby? No, it was across town and we had to face the morning traffic rush...bummer. We were worried as we passed our we thought we might never see again.  It took an hour to get across town. We were just on time to check in...not exactly how we had planned it. The first lag of our trip to Chile was shared with many friends from Chile returning home. Really a treat to meet so many brothers and sisters. We had a long lay over in Chile but could not leave the airport because Robin only had permission from Mexico to travel to Argentina.

Forgot to tell you that Robin had some hurdles in finishing his paperwork for his permanent resident visa status...the immigration office called to ask us to meet with them with a translator because there had been a mistake made on Robin's paperwork...and it was their mistake. So we took along a brother who was the best choice...very professional. Robin was asked to sign a paper that explained that a mistake had been made and that his paperwork would have to be restarted but that all of the fees would be transferred to the new application. The mistake went back to when we crossed the border the first time...Robin was treated like a tourist and not as a permanent resident. The problem was that the new paperwork would not be finished before our trip to Argentina so Mexico gave Robin a permission slip to leave the country but it had to stamped when exiting and upon re-entering and submitted to them within  5 days and any deviations could void his paperwork so....we dared not leave the airport. Chile is expensive. We had a hamburger, fries and a beer...came to $33,000 pesos! At the time it figured to about $60.00 dollars! Wow!! Even for airport food that was way pricey!

So we came home to Tabasco. Robin finished his paperwork and in return got his permanent resident green card. Only took about 5 months and around 15 trips to hindsight we should have hired a paralegal to help us. They usually charge about $ would have been worth it!

Then we moved to Tulum and that brings us to the end of 2013! On the bus ride home to Tabasco from Mexico City our bus was rocked by teachers on strike...they broke a window...we had to change buses later on...but the 12 hour trip turned into a 19 hour trip and when we did arrive in Paraiso I was so excited that I left my 3 month old Samsung tablet on the bus and when we returned, no one could find it even though the bus had not left the fault on two counts...leaving it and for never installing the tracking software...very sad.