Saturday, October 23, 2010

No, It isn't the Garden of Eden but...

The South America Northwest Area Mission Presidents' Seminar was held at a resort hotel in the Sacred Valley. Built on the property of a 19th Century hacienda which stands almost hidden in the center of the resort, the hotel has the feel of a monastery. The old house surrounds a classic stone patio with with two floors of rooms on three sides. The patio opens into a cloistered garden paradise of tropical flowers and plants. Three mackaws were watching us from their perch as we walked through the garden to our building.

We are perched on a Machu Picchu-shaped rock with the chapel and mountain in the background. To our left is the main dining area and lobby. The meetings were held in a sunken garden beyond the main building, a peaceful and private setting given the spiritual nature of meetings.

This bed coverlet draped across the bottom of the bed is made of alpaca. We love the color and design.
We really appreciated the fresh flowers and glass tray of fruits. I don't know the names of the fruits but they were delicious.

Dr. and Hna. Weidner are living in Bogota. We really enjoy being with them. We flew to Bogota to meet and welcome them into the mission field. They are doing a great work there making contacts with medical advisors and seeing to the health of the missionaries in the three northern countries.

The Ramoses and we are standing on a knoll where llamas graze. Brother Ramos is a former mission president, the Director of Temporal Affairs for the Area, and a counselor to President Whetten at the CCM. Rosie is in the Relief Society presidency. She is the one who asked me to demonstrate making brownies in Relief Society. They are originally from Guatemala.

President and Hna. Sloan preside over the Quito Ecuador Mission. They have invited us to visit in January to speak in zone conferences!

This is one of the motel like buildings on the property. The rooms are absolutely sound proof and elegant in layout, design, and amenities.

This Catholic chapel is a functioning parish.

Dad and I are standing on the bridge that leads to the cloistered garden by way of a path on the right side of the chapel.

These evergreen trees are my favorite--tall, stately, and symetrical. I think we cannot grow these trees in Utah because they require so much humidity.

Everywhere we looked and walked, there was beauty in design and color.

This lagoon and plantings are really colorful and peaceful. There are other lagoons we heard about but didn't have time to see.

This close up of us and the Weidners was taken from a different angle and is especially fun because the llamas were in the background. One of the mission presidents got too close to the brown llama which spit in his face. He told us his skin and eyes burned. He had to return to his room to wash his face and irrigate his eyes.

I took this picture looking back toward the main building fromn the bridge. At night the lights are really beautiful. We could have walked an hour and not have seen all the grounds. We wish we had had more time. We didn't even have time to shop in the hotel gift shops. The meetings started Sunday night with a Sacrament Meeting and talks by each of the Area presidency. The meetings were rich with doctrine and tools for teaching missionaries how to teach more effectively the mission and Atonement of the Savior and the role of the Holy Ghost. Monday night a stake of Young Men and Young Women presented dances from the Cusco region.
This picture gives a glimpse into the color and design of the property.

Unfortunately, this picture is not clear, but we were inside the cloistered garden.

A few more architectural examples...

This is one of our chapels in the Sacred Valley. Many of the chapels are two-story buildings on narrow pieces of land. All the chapels are behind security fences.

This early 19th Century Colonial style chapel is typical of the smaller Catholic churches in the region. Made of brick and adobe, its foundation is the ruins of an ancient Inca temple according to a pictoral guide book. The fence reflects the Inca design found in tapestries and other artistic works.

We saw several homes made of logs and tin. This homes is windowless. There must be a good story here.

This home's design reflects the Inca architecture in many ways: the stone-on-stone foundation, the half-Inca-cross niches, the trapezoidal door frames, and thatched roof. The trapezoidal feature strengthens the walls and the walls are less likely to crumble in an earthquake.

While this home is not highly decorated, the windows, doors, and thatched roof are typical of Inca inspired architecture. It's interesting to note that the building on the right has a modern tile roof.

The home on the Inca road not far from Machu Picchu is quite reflective of Machu Picchu. The door frame is a replica of the original and untouched entrance into the city of Machu Picchu and adobe figures adorn the front walls. This home also has the red tile roof which is a distinctive feature of the homes and buildings in Cusco.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Following the Inca Road to the Sacred Valley Once Again

Dad and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2010 Mission Presidents' Seminar for the South America Northwest Area comprised of 23 missions and two CCMs in five countries. The seminar was in Spanish but a member from Cusco interpreted for the North Americans like me who still struggle with the language.

The road from Cusco to the Sacred Valley is steep. The view from the top is spectacular. The surprise is the descent into the Sacred Valley. Cusco is at 12,000 feet and the Sacred Valley is about 10,000 feet altitude.

We were in Group One which meant we were picked up early in the morning and were on the first flight to Cusco, arriving about 10:30 in the morning. A tour bus took us to a resort hotel in the Sacred Valley, a nearly two-hour trip with vistas and fun views at every turn.

The Inca laid out Cusco in the shape of a puma with the head at the far left and the tail off the photo to the right. Can you see the head?

The varied architecture was fascinating. The following pictures show the variety of styles and building techniques.

This is a fairly old family home made of handmade bricks covered with mud adobe.

This is quite a creative design. The stones reflect the Inca walls--stone on stone with no mortar. The thatched roof and tower-like structure is common in the valley. We saw a village of smaller homes in the same style. They reminded us of yurts.

Decorations of painted adobe shapes is quite common too. The owners have also repeated the Inca motif on one outside wall.

This style of architecture is really common in Peru. The owners probably live above the store. The house is actually four box-like structures combined to make a larger home.

This house/restaurant is really fun! All the decorative arts are combined in one building. We saw one family slapping the adobe on their home to make shapes. We could tell one shape was the alpaca.

Our Quechua guide told us this is a common sight--a kind of neighborhood project to get a tile roof laid before the expected rain.

The white streaks are salt. Once the salt forms from the salt lake running beneath the falls, it rises and hardens. The it is cut into sheets and carried away for market.

Houses cost little to nothing to build. The valley is rich in soil which makes good bricks and grows crops. These are bricks lying in the sun to dry.

The Sacred Valley or Valle Sagrada was so named by the Inca because of the rich volcanic soil which yields crops and the Urubamba River which runs the length of the valley all the way to Machu Picchu. Several varieties of corn are grown in the valley.

Because of the tinted windows in the bus, the colors are distorted. This valley was like a patchwork quilt. The patchwork effect goes up into the hills.

Hyrum Bingham who is attributed with the discovery of Machu Picchu followed this river with his expedition party. The river is more blue-green than the picture shows.

Many markets dot the route from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Our guide encouraged us to buy from the local people because their only sources of income are their handiwork and produce.

The potato crop was in bloom with purple flowers. The color really doesn't show up well in the pictures, but the land was carpeted in purple.

We wondered if so many bricks laid out to dry meant this farmer was in the brick making business.

The roadside soup kitchen is a common sight as well. In every town, even here in La Molina and the other nearby districts, family run businesses like this one are allowed. In the health classes Stuart instructs the missionaries not to eat the "street food," however, because there is no control on quality or cleanliness.

Many markets like this one are really neighborhood co-ops, a few families joining together near an historic site.

Dad and I love this scene which was repeated several times as we traveled to the Sacred Valley--a shepherd with a dog, a farmer with his oxen, a child with his donkey--all rural scenes of day to day life.

On arrival, our bus driver entered through massive Colonial style gates into this hidden hotel resort. The flower pots, fountain, and white walls were just a tease of the floral paradise--cloistered gardens, rolling lawns with grazing alpaca and llama, fountains, lagoons, and all manner of stately palms, evergreens, and flowers Utahns know as house plants. The resort is another Blog...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

362 days of Sunshine!

Dad and I flew to Arequipa, the beautiful city of white stone cathedrals and municipal buildings. The white stone is sillar, the lava flow from the three sleeping volcanoes which seem to watch over the city like sentinels. Centuries of eruptions have laid down quarries from which an endless supply of the glistening white stone is taken to create beautiful buildings even today. We didn't have time to tour the Plaza de Armas, the main square of 17th Century cathedrals, municipal buildings, and a famous convent which is more like a city within a city. We hope to return and have more time to tour. I asked our driver to at least drive around the main square as we were going from one hospital to another. It was a bit frustrating not to have more time. The whole trip was just 24 hours.

Our hotel reflected the whiteness of Arequipa. The hotel was almost underground--it was below street level. We descended steep white stone steps to reach the lobby. The lawns and gardens are at street level.
In between the meetings at the office and visiting the medical providers, President and Hna. Fernandez treated us (the APs, the mission nurse, and the two men who put together Dad's ideas for the new medical plan for missionaries) to a delicious seafood lunch.

Hna. Stoddard is the mission nurse (an outstanding one Dad says) and a proselyting misionera. Her mother was Dr. Lohner's nurse when Michael, Eliza, and Peter were born. She had already served a mission in Peru when I met her. You may remember pictures of Hna. Stoddard and me together when she was in the CCM, the only NA hermana in the CCM at that time.

The main volcano is Misty, pronounced "meesty." The three volcanoes are active but sleeping at the present time. The last eruption was early in the 20th Century.

Because of the gleaming white walls, we did not feel as if we were below street level. Our driver told us the sun shines 362 days a year. Imagine the beauty of sunwashed white buildings nearly every day. In Lima it seems as if there are only three days of sun a year.

This is the entrance to the restaurant which leads out to grounds on three different levels. We at dinner at 10pm, when we arrived at the hotel. The Peruvians eat dinner late--Roberto and Guido who presented the new medical plan with Dad are used to such late dinners. We had indigestion but it was one of the best trout dinners I have eaten.

The hand croched placemats were a beautiful white, again reflecting the white stone of the city.

Even the grazing llamas were white.

We ate breakfast on the lawn early in the morning which surprised us because when we arrived the night before at 10pm, it was nearly freezing. The bell boy was wearing winter clothing and a hooded parka and gloves. We were so surprised to walk out of the room and find the air at 7:30am warm and the sun bright.