Sunday, September 21, 2014

These past couple of weeks in El Salvador...

You can see that I didn't get that second week posted...
so I'm still two weeks behind.   We left off on Monday night, September 8.   (I'll get the narration, then add the photos.)

September 9, Tuesday
Most of the day we caught up on things, but we also took time out to go to the National Museum.  All the national museums, Botanical Gardens, pyramids, Government Palace, and such are all closed on Mondays.  So the only time we can take our temple missionaries to them is during the two semi-annual temple closures.
We had been there four other times (first with the Fishers, second with the Clarks, third with the Brewers, and fourth with Daniel & Kelly) but the Haroldsens had never been.
So off we went.  I have no photos because I thought I'd left my camera in the apartment.  But when I got back and looked for it, I found it deep down in the purse I had with me. (I even sadder that I didn't get photos.)
We and they enjoyed the museum. Then we had lunch at the Bistro San Lorenzo right by the museum.  It's the best lasagna I've ever had anywhere--restaurante or homemade.
Here's a photo of the Mormon Temple in the museum section of "Religions in El Salvador" when we were there with the Fishers.
Here's Elder Joseph Clark and Walt next to the museum guard.  Wonder if he's one of the Mayans from Guatemala?
Marilee Clark will be sad to hear that the fun Museum Gift Shop is closed down, that space where it was is completely empty.
The next four days turned out to be a whirlwind of outings...we went somewhere every day for the rest of the week.

September 10, Wednesday
We asked President Majano if he could drive us to the Government Palace.  He found out that it's only open a few days, at specific times for people to go through.  He found out that Wednesdays from 1:00-4:00 is one of those times.
So we (Pte. y Hna. Majano, Pte. y Hna. Alas, Elder y Hna. Haroldsen, and us*) were off.
(*Elder y Hna. Caballero were with their daughter and her fiancé visiting other places.)
From there,  Pres. Majano and Pres. Alas thought we should see the area of Los Planes.  It's up towards some mountains so Pres. Majano drove us up, first to a famous Cathedral...
...then back down the mountain a ways to the Look Out to view the city of San Salvador. 
  Since we were right there we had pupusas at the Abbi Pupuseria (which some claim has the best pupusas in all of El Salvador)...
 ...then we drove back around the corner to the Look Out again to see the city lights after sunset.  
When we got back to our temple grounds, the Majanos wanted to take us to some more landmarks of their country the next day.
September 11, Thursday
We were off to Lake Coatepeque, but stopped first at Los Chorros, a great water park, with many natural springs coming out the side of the canyon walls. It's been there for a long time, but they told us that the 1986 big earthquake changed the configuration of the land.
And this is one of only about 5 photos I got that day because my camera battery went dead.  I couldn't figure out why until I downloaded the pictures.  I had inadvertantly hit the "record video" button as we started out, and have our conversations from just before we pulled out for the next 16 minutes, including Hna. Majano's prayer for safety on the roads.  It's showing the floor of the van.  No wonder the battery went dead!
   So here's the 8 of us: President & Hna. Alas--Eduardo y Consuelo; Elder y Hna. Haroldsen-DeVar y Sharon; President & Hna. Petersen--Walt y Eileen; Hna. Majano--Aida.  President Majano--Rafael is taking the photo.
Driving on up into the mountains, we stopped to view the lake from above it.  We tried to drive down to the water's edge, but it's all private property and we never got to the actual lake. (I googled a photo of it.)
Then it was over to Santa Ana where we had lunch at the Food Court in their grand Centro Mall.  Santa Ana's national treasure is an elegant Theatre Nacional, which we toured for the next hour. (I googled this photo, too.)
But this is one I took inside when we went there over a year ago with René Hernández when he drove us and the Thompsons to hear the National Symphony play.  He is their second chair violin.

Then over to the grand Cathredral, where a cloudburst hit as we were leaving.  We tried to wait it out, but it showed no signs of letting up, so Pres. Majano drove the car up to the front and we each made a mad dash under our umbrellas.  
We were all a little damp on our hour ride back to the temple grounds where my camera had gotten some life back and I took this photo.
The Majanos wanted to drive us all to San Vincente the next day.

September 12, Friday
Off early to San Vincente, stopping at a great new fancy-dancy lookout along the way to view the valley with several towns, including San Vincente.  (I had charged the camera battery.)  
Here's Pres. Majano telling Walt that they could see the town where he was born from this lookout.
El Salvador is a small country that has towns built among the many mouintains.
Before heading on down to the city, we stopped for a couple of hours to rest and relax in a darling get-a-way resort built on one side of Lake Apastepeque.  The Alas had not been able to go with us this time.
We even splurged and took a boat ride around the lake for $1.00 each.
Here's the boat driver's little side kick.
Quite primitive.  Saw women washing their clothes in the river, then hanging them there.
Back at the dock, we posed with our guide/boat driver.  He's going to college studying tourism.
We then had a yummy lunch there at the lake side among the swaying palm trees.
The roof was interesting - woven reeds of some kind.
We had some more kick-back time just enjoyed the beautiful palm trees and quiet peacefulness.
Before leaving, we got a photo of the gals at the restaurante.  Notive that the older gal didn't look at me.  Her generation was taught that when you get your picture taken, if you look at the camera, it can take part of your soul.
Walt took a photo of the sign to remember the name.
Then we were off to drive through San Vincente.  President Majano drove us by the hospital where he was born.

And we stopped at their favorite bakery in the whole country.
We weren't too late getting back, to rest up for the next day's outing.
When we got to our apartment, Edwin brought us a special gift from the Service Center employees. A piece of the granite of the temple with the outline of the temple on it.  And, when they trimmed the tree outside our back window, they made an outline of the temple with this inscribed on the back: "San Salvador 12-Sept-2014, Presidente y Hna. Petersen, Gracias for sharing your love and kindness with us. We will miss you! Your brothers and sister: Hugo, Romel Edwin "Tiwy," Alex, Hugo "Ruso," Ricky, Victor, Alberto, Santos Rojas, Hna. Cecy, Jorge."  
They have all helped with every little and big thing that needed to be done for our apartment and for the temple.  Their remembrances for us will be treasured because of the sweet memory we will have of each of them.
[It's almost midnight, and we've got a big day tomorrow--adding the photos to this on Sunday, September 28.  Hopefully I will finish this post during this coming week, plus up to September 28....getting there...only 15 days behind.]

September 13, Saturday  [Narrathion done last week; still adding the photos as of Sept. 28.  My Mom used to say: "I spend half the day putting yesterday away."  I need to adapt them to trying to catch up on our blog.]
We left early for the long drive to the area called Cerro Verde where the Volcano Izalco is.  They were just opening it up at 8:00 when we arrived.  From the lookout we felt almost at eye level with the top crater of the volcano.

We hiked over to the big hotel that was built when so many San Salvadorans and tourists were going in droves to witness the daily, spectacular eruptions.  Within two weeks of this big hotel's opening, the eruptions stopped.  Then there was an earthquake that damaged the hotel beyond repair.  (Guess there wasn't supposed to be a hotel there.)

When we got back to the center of this National Parque, we all had pupusas and hot chocolate, then headed back to the temple grounds.

The Alas were speaking that afternoon for a group of Young Single Adults in the Santa Ana area, and the Majanos were speaking that early evening at the Saturday session of the Cuscutlán Stake Conference.

Walt and I spent the rest of the day preparing for our talks the next day at the Cuscutlán Stake Conference.

Whew, that was quite the last four days of our temple closure two weeks.

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