Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fuengirola Bioparc

My companion Hermana Chantrill and I have been talking about going to the Bioparc in our little ciudad for a long time now, and we finally made it a week before she leaves for home! There is more on that below, but first I wanted to share a bit more about my home-away-from-home, Fuengirola.
There are a few different sand artists who grace our beach regularly with their art. This one puts up a brand new masterpiece every month or two and spends a great deal of time and effort perfecting it, and maintaining (or sometimes hiring someone to guard it) before time or rain or kids get to it and it is reduced to heaps of sand, ready to be changed into a whole new piece. I always "tip" him a bit to take a picture, and go by regularly to enjoy his art. As far as I can tell he only uses sand and water, keeping it moist so it doesn't disintegrate, which can be a real challenge.
This "artist"  on the other hand, is much more limited in his efforts. He always does a town on a hill with a little train track with lots of little toy figures, and uses spray to "decorate" and preserve his work.  He will create most of it in a few days, then "work" dilligently on it for weeks with hardly any change in it at all, all the while asking for donations. Once in a while he'll let it disintegrate and rebuild almost the same exact thing over again. It makes me ask myself if what I am "building" is genuine and meaningful in a true way, or just a sham for show and profit. I hope it's the former.

A lot of the trees around town are decorative orange trees and the bright orange fruit makes a beautiful contrast that lasts a long time. The reason these beauties aren't stripped bare is because the fruit is VERY bitter. You could maybe make a lemonade type drink with LOTS of sugar, but it still wouldn't be that good. The kids like to throw them at each other however :) Probably a lesson in there somewhere too, maybe of a similar kind. What kind of fruit am I producing?  I hope the insides are sweet, even if the outsides aren't really the most beautiful! Or maybe we should be careful that the fruits of our lives are sweet instead of just appearing great from an outside observer.  What can you see in this "parable"?
Okay,  we finally make it back to the zoo.  This is actually like 4 blocks from my apartment in the middle of the city!  It is surrounded by stores and apartment buildings, and you can't even tell it's there. It's actually pretty good sized, and has evolved from small cages to fairly decent sized, natural looking habitats with nary a cage to be seen. We visited during mediodia, the middle of the day, so everyone was pretty laid back.

Except this poor guy. He must have fallen into the bug pit or something to have all his friends "helping" him out!

There were lots of trees and ponds. It was very pretty and the animals really beautiful.

Except this guy (a Komodo Dragon). Still pretty cool though.  The path of the bioparc wandered around and around, letting you see each habitat from several different perspectives.

This peacock didn't seem to care for his habitat-mate very much. There were also crocodiles in the same exibit, which I found a bit weird.

I LOVE the coloring on this guy. He was in a greenhouse where you can walk right in amongst the birds. It was pretty cool.

This guy loved this spot of ground for some reason and when one of the other birds found an interesting stick in his area, he chased it out (but the little one managed to fly with that huge-for-him stick to a friendlier area).  My companion, Hermana Chantrill, really liked his coloring, so I took her picture with him.

This "Baobab tree" was actually molded out of I think cement as part of the "Madagascar exhibit". They had some smaller cages with insects and snakes that were actually inside the "tree".  There were no buildings inside the bioparc itself (outside of this one). All in all it was a very pleasant afternoon, not too cold, not too hot, and fun to boot!

Since my companion is leaving, I wanted to do a little mini-tribute to those who have moved on. This is Elder Mercado who actually doesn't go home home for a couple of months, but he was the Secretary in the office for like six month, so I got a bit attached by the time he left to go back in the field. Below and to the left are Elders Buckway and Dansie who were in the office at the very beginning of my mission (as was Elder Flint, who has his back to us, and who left earlier). They left for home this last transfer, which is sad, and yet happy. Now they get to get on with the rest of what I'm sure will be awesome lives!  Hermana Castillo in the light blue shirt (Jeanene - I can call her that now because she and Rod went home about 3 months ago). She is a great friend whom I miss greatly. And Hermana Chantrill of course is in the pink. We have been together now for almost a year and she is family to me. She will be missed so much!  But I feel so blessed at having met and gotten to know all of these talented, spiritual, just all around great people, as well as the others who are still here. There is nothing like a mission!  I love it!