Argentina - May 4

Stephanie Lau, Christy Payne and Chelsea Goodman have a light-hearted moment at the Cementerio de la Recoleta.

May 4 by freshman Melissa Lake and sophomore Christy Payne

After a night of laughter, cheering games and dinner with our ecstatic fans after the volleyball match, we climbed back onto our double-decker bus to begin our long haul back to Buenos Aires. Getting onto a bus knowing that you will be spending the next three and a half to four hours of your life shifting from one position to the next trying to find a comfortable one in which to take a long-awaited nap is no way to begin a Sunday morning. And if you have not had the delight of experiencing that, don't be too anxious to do so -- trust me.

Around four in the morning, we were awoken by the sounds of the bus tires coming to a halt, right in front of our Hotel Castelar. As we crawled out of our seats and off of the bus, we were a sight to see. Zombies. Real life zombies walking into the hotel! Okay, maybe not the gruesome, rancid-smelling zombies that you are used to picturing in your minds. But, let's put it this way: our beds were awaiting our arrivals, and there was no way we were going to deny them their wish. Our "night" (it was actually four in the morning, need we remind you) was finally over. It was time to go to sleep.

When morning came, we learned that sometimes a morning wake-up call from the front desk cannot be trusted. Sometimes they just forget to call you. Nothing you can really do about it other than wake up 30 minutes later than you had wanted and rush to throw on some church clothes so that you can meet everyone in the lobby by 9 a.m. After meeting in the lobby, we ran down taxis and were on our way to church. The morning was beautiful and it was exciting to see the wonderful sights of the city as we drove to church -- everything was covered in beautiful green trees and plants. (One of my favorite parts of Argentina is strolling down the street and seeing enormous green trees surround the streets. It is like walking under a canopy in the forest. Breath-taking.)

Church was held in a quaint building, down a small street. Although the building was a bit warmer than is typically comfortable, the members in Buenos Aires were absolutely delightful. Today was fast and testimony meeting. We couldn't understand much of what they were saying, but the spirit in the meeting was so strong. They were so happy that we came to church with them, and they talked our ears off even though they couldn't understand us and we couldn't understand them. The love in that little church building was flowing. We had the opportunity to hear our coaches Shay Goulding and Shawn Olmstead bear testimony, along with Marisa Vandersteen and Ashton Hansen. They were beautiful testimonies, and we're so thankful for the wonderful spirit that they brought to us today. For Sunday School, our group took up a whole room and so they were gracious enough to have two Sunday School classes -- one in English for us and the other in Spanish for other members of the ward and those of us who speak Spanish. It was a wonderful and memorable experience to go to church in Argentina.

After church we took a taxi to Plaza Alvear. We went to the open air market, which was filled with hundreds of booths to buy things. There were a lot of different kinds of jewelry, purses and bags, puppets and other little gadgets. We walked around there for a couple of hours and then we went into the Basilica del Pilar (an old Catholic church). It was very beautiful and had lots of gold arrangements. It was really cool to see the elaborate decorations in the church. After the church we walked around in the Cementerio de la Recoleta. It was the most amazing cemetery I have ever been in. Each grave site was amazing and had so much detail. There were thousands of different graves, but each was in a small building of some sort. Some were individual graves and some were graves with entire families in it. It almost looked like a small town with all of the different buildings. A lot of the graves showed the wealth of the people because some were very tall and had such intricate detail. This was a very neat place to walk around in. After we all got back from the Plaza Alvear, we went to dinner at a small restaurant close to our hotel. This restaurant was very authentic with only Spanish on the menu. We finally translated the menu and got our food, which was delicious. Most of us got very traditional Argentine meals, and it seemed like everyone really enjoyed it. After dinner we all got gelato and called it a night.

Sammi Stuart, Rachel Dyer, Ashton Hansen and Marisa Vandersteen outside the Church building in Buenos Aires.

The BYU women's volleyball team at Church in Buenos Aires.

The Basilica del Pilar.

Christy Payne, Janvier Beaumont, Stephanie Lau and Rachel Dyer inside the Basilica del Pilar.

One of the many ornate shrines inside the Basilica.

The Cementerio de la Recoleta is literally a village of the dead, complete with street lights and signs and thousands of graves.

The street in front of our hotel was blocked off for the evening as a large crowd gathered to hear various musicians perform.

Before going to bed, the Cougars gather for an evening devotional inside the hotel.