Before we visited the mission, we lunched at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, my favorite restaurant in Pasadena. If you haven’t been you should definitely check it out; without question they make the best fried chicken in LA. As you know, I have certain rules about food I do not break, namely having anything sweet in my entrée. Hence, I do not like any salads with fruit added, I do not like orange-flavored chicken, and I hate raisins in my main dish. I like to limit the sweets to dessert, which I enjoy tremendously, sometimes more than the entrée itself. But I digress. The reason chicken and waffles work reason is this: I always eat the chicken first as an entrée and have the waffles as dessert. I do not eat them simultaneously - genius. You should try it! And don’t worry about feeling out of place in that restaurant, especially the one in Pasadena. I have seen people of all races eat there without any eyebrows raised, and I have been there plenty of times (enough to know not to show up after church on Sundays). If you don’t believe me look at the picture of N’Sync in their glory days on the wall. Man that Justin Timberlake was rocking some baby jeri curls back in the day!
So it turns out that the mission was located only minutes away from my beloved Roscoe’s. We found the area after a short commute on surface streets. On the way to the mission is a lovely street with restaurants and mom-and-pop stores. Rene and I checked out a shop called Sol y Cortina which sold handcrafted household items and clothing. We fell in love with their beautiful ethnic mirrors, all of which were priced under $200. Sadly, no mirrors came home with us but we will definitely come back when we are in the market for a beautiful red mirror like the one I saw that day.
As we walked further down the street, we came across this beautiful little theatre called the Mission Playhouse. At first we thought it was the mission and started snapping away in front of the fountain and the entrance. We finally figured out that it was NOT the mission by processing these clues: there was no cross atop the structure, there was a ticket booth on the side, and there were movie posters displayed in Chinese at the entrance. Yep, this was not the mission. Don’t laugh but it took me ten minutes to figure that out. Sometimes I am such a dork. Also, this adult recreation center on the side kind of gave it away too; in church it’s called a rectory or something, but definitely not an adult recreation center. Do you know why this would be a recreation center just for adults, and not for everyone? Hmmm… Anyhow, it turns out the mission was just around the corner but in the other direction.
On our way to the entrance, Rene and I spied a group of teenagers taking pictures for a Quincenera on the church lawn and decided to spend time observing them (code for checking out that incredibly heinous outfit the birthday girl was wearing! Sadly, we took no pictures). Since when did gold and red princess gowns come back into vogue? Honestly, that outfit, complete with the poodle hair, would’ve made me cry at 15. I feel sorry for the poor girl for having such unfortunate photographic evidence of that look!
We finally made it to the mission after our break. The mission façade, like the other missions, is pretty simple. It’s basically beige stucco with large wooden doors. It wasn’t laid out in the shape of the cross like San Juan Capistrano (or SJC as I like to call it; kinda catchy, huh?) but rather was like an “L,” with the church in the bottom with the campanile (fancy word for bell tower, see I learned something in Italy!) and museum on the side.
You enter the mission through the gift shop, or at least I did, since there was a wedding in progress. This is probably how they get you to pay the $5 entrance fee, since it’s hard to walk through the gift shop without them noticing you. When you first enter the mission grounds, the first thing you notice are the gravestones with a huge figure of Christ on a cross in the middle. It didn’t feel creepy seeing all those headstones since they were arranged so neatly and many, if not all, of the deceased were priests who used to work at the mission. The huge Christ figure didn’t bother me either since it was surrounded by grass and fruit trees. Overall, the effect was peace and tranquility. It’s nice to see the church pay tribute to those who served it during their lifetimes. Rene specifically told me not to smile while we took pictures, so instead I look pouty and pissed – thanks Rene. It would’ve been better if I wasn’t in the picture at all.
Right after the graveyard is a little museum dedicated to the mission’s history. There were lots of pictures of the local Indians, called Gabrielinos, on the walls, along with their art work and tools. What really excited me was the exhibit of a mission bedroom from the 1800s; on display was this beautiful, ornate headboard depicting the Virgin Mary. Can you imagine sleeping with that image above you? It must’ve been such a luxury back in those days to have a bed, let alone such a beautiful headboard.
After marveling at the artifacts in the museum, Rene and I strolled to the garden, where three artists were painting. One was using an angel statue as the subject, the other a person they came with, and the third a really large desert plant. Of the three, the one painting the desert plant had the best picture, so we took a shot of her working under a beautiful tree with yellow blossoms. Past this tree is a model of all 21 missions that were constructed by elementary school kids. Seeing this only reminds me of my shortcomings in 4th grade – no way they made those on their own! Come on –I couldn’t even figure out how to make one wall, let alone a whole model. And what kid puts stucco on the mission? Seems a bit too complex for me… they definitely got help.
To top off our visit, we went inside the church itself and saw a baptism in progress. I noticed that the parishioners definitely use this church – first the wedding, now a baptism. Perhaps there was another wedding on tap so Rene and I sat down for only a few minutes to take a picture of the altar.
That’s it for mission #4. Stay tuned for the next mission!