April 17th through April 23rd: Monday we got on the road early and drove to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. We got on a boat and took the girls for a ride on the Lake and we went to La Casa del Mundo for lunch.
|This cutie sat on my lap for the boat ride to La Casa del Mundo.|
|The rest of our visitors on the way to lunch.|
|Lunch at La Casa del Mundo.|
|The boat ride back to Panajachel.|
|Waiting for our ice cream cones at Pollo Campero in Panajachel.|
After lunch we drove to Quetzaltenango, more commonly known here in Guatemala as Xela, which is short for the Mayan name of Xelajú. We wanted Xela to at least see the city she was named after. We found our quaint hotel, which was located just a few blocks from the main plaza. It didn’t have parking at the hotel, so one of the workers had to get in the car and drive with us to show us where we could park. The streets are very narrow in the old part of the city and it was ok with us because I didn’t want to do anymore driving. We walked around and found, using Waze (Lola our GPS girl), a Mexican restaurant named Tacos Tabascos. The tacos were excellent and everyone felt better with a full stomach. We visited the main cathedral and did some shopping and then went to bed tired from a long day of traveling.
|Inside the cathedral in Quetzaltenango.|
|Xela being welcomed to Xela (Quetzaltenango).|
Tuesday we had breakfast at our hotel and then drove to San Andres Xecul. Our primary reason for driving to Xecul was to see their church which is famous for the way it is painted. I found a parking place and mom said no it is up on that hill. We could see a small painted church almost straight up the hill. We headed up there. It was a “white knuckle” ride on a very narrow, windy and steep street and it took Sam’s breath away. On the way down, he said, “Please go slow--1 mile an hour.” We made it up, only having to pass one car which had to back up for us to find a place in the road that was wide enough for us to pass. When we arrived and looked down on the town, we realized that we had been right next to the church that we had come to visit, but we could not see the front of the church. If we had we looked behind us as we started up the hill, we would have seen we did not need to take the hair rising ride up the hill. It was quite the adventure. We think that they had had a procession from the small chapel up on the hill down to the big church. This was the Tuesday after Easter. The church was amazing and beautiful. Lonely Planet says the following about the church: “Technicolored saints, angels, flowers and climbing vines fight for space with angels frolicking on the ledges and a pair of jaguars scratching the top column on a shocking yellow facade. The cones on the bell towers are straight from the circus big top.”
|Breakfast at Casa Mañen in Quetzaltenango.|
|The small chapel that we drove to above San Andres Xecul.|
|Interesting decorations inside the small chapel overlooking San Andres Xecul.|
|Notice the skirt with the guy playing the marimba.|
|Looking down on San Andres Xecul. You can see the church we wanted to visit in the middle with the circus top dome.|
|There is a lot of smoke from cooking fires.|
|This is the church that mom wanted to see that brought us to Xecul.|
|Sam, Ginny and the girls.|
|Looking down on Ginny, Xela and mom.|
|Inside the church.|
We next headed for Salcaja for their market day. This market is enormous, primarily fabric, and it was so fun to walk around. We found aprons for the girls and I bought some fabric for a table cloth.
|In the market in Salcaja.|
|Beaded and embroidered huipiles.|
|Lots of fabric for sale.|
|The girls modeling their new aprons.|
|Willa was hungry and wanted some corn tortillas.|
|Willa buying tortillas in the market.|
|The woman was selling fabric and her puppy.|
Next we drove to Fuentes Georgianas, some hot springs located on the slopes of a volcano. The road up the mountain is very narrow and you have to find a spot to pass when you come upon cars coming in the opposite direction. The land is very fertile on this mountain and they grow some of the best produce in the country here. After we had been in the pool for 10 or 15 minutes it started to rain. I said I would get out and change and go and get a table in the restaurant next to the pool. By the time I got changed, it was a full-fledged downpour with lightning and thunder. They had to clear the pool because of the lightning. We had lunch and waited out the storm.
|As we climbed the mountain to the hot springs, the vistas were grand.|
|Roadside vegetable stand.|
|This is some of the most fertile land in Guatemala.|
|The road to the hot springs is not very wide and passing can be a challenge.|
|Soaking in the hot springs at Fuentes Georginas.|
|Mom did put her feet in the water. When it started raining, she was very happy that she only had to put on her shoes.|
|It started to rain and hail.|
|and thunder and lightning.|
|It was really a downpour.|
|But we were dry inside, waiting for our lunch.|
|This is the life.|
It was about 1:00pm and we wanted to be back in Guatemala City by dark, so we headed home. We made it safe and sound. Wednesday we took Sam and Ginny and the girls to the airport and said good-bye. It was so nice to see them and pamper the girls and be grandparents a bit. Our painting class was canceled which gave us time to visit the dental clinic. Over the weekend, Mom had lost one of her crowns with the tooth still inside. She was doubtful that they would be able to do much, but wanted to know her options. Amazingly, Dr. Jay Harris was able to put in two posts and reset the crown. We are really grateful for the free dental service that they offer the missionaries and the children of Guatemala.
|3 to 6 year olds waiting their turn at the dental clinic.|
We spent the afternoon at the temple doing our shift. It was good to be back in the temple and back on a routine. Saturday we did the early shift which means we were up at 3:00am and we arrived at the temple at 4:00am. We finished in the temple at noon, ran home and had lunch, then drove to Chimaltenango for their stake conference. We both spoke in the adult session and then I spoke in the priesthood session. We finished up about 8:00pm and went to find our hotel. We found our hotel, Finca La Loma, after driving on a dirt road for about 10 minutes. The guard at the gate said the restaurant was closed, but we needed something to eat. So we drove back into Chimaltenango and had some chicken at Pollo Campero. We had to hurry back because they closed the gate to the hotel at 9:00pm. After getting past the gate we still had to find the hotel. It was dark and not well lit and not a lot of signs. We finally found the reception and got to our room, very tired after a very long day.
|Priesthood meeting in Chimaltenango.|
|Our room at Finca La Loma.|
Sunday, in the light of day, the Finca (which means estate in Spanish) was delightful and interesting. We had a very nice breakfast and walked around a bit. This might be a place the missionaries would like to visit on a P-day. We returned to Chimaltenango for the Sunday session and we both spoke. I felt inspired to talk about the opening song that we had sung and how it speaks about the temple. The song is “Bella Sion” in Spanish, “Beautiful Zion” in English. Some of the phrases in the song are “beautiful abode of the Lord”, “beautiful temple of the Lord”, “beautiful home of the Lord”, and “beautiful place of peace and light”. It is a beautiful song and made for a good talk about the temple. Mom said she liked it. We came home and I got a nap and we got to talk to some of the kids.
|Looking out over the finca (estate) from in front of our room.|
|Our room was the first one on the left.|
|This room was made of firewood stacked up to make the walls.|
|The restaurant at the Finca.|
|The choir for the Sunday session.|
|I love the flower arrangements, especially the birds of paradise.|
|Sunday session at Chimaltenango.|
|L to R President Markam, mission presidente, President Samayoa, stake president and what's his name.|
It was a wonderful week and we felt the Spirit in the stake conference meetings which always leaves us energized and uplifted. As we sat eating breakfast in Chimaltenango, I commented to Chris that we have a great life and it does not get any better than what we are now doing and living. We truly are enjoying this assignment.