Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Hotel Story

From a hole in the ground to an 8-story 5-star hotel...for 18 months we watched the construction of a hotel from the window of the Lima Central Mission. Every Monday, when we went to the office for the Central and South Missions clinic, I took a picture. No one knows who is building the luxury hotel.

For a few weeks all the materials were on a knoll where the crane is sitting. The excavation was done in the front left corner. Then the materials were placed by crane on the back left corner while the platform to the right was being constructed. The platform then became the place for the pile of metal and sheetrock while the rock and dirt were excavated in the back left corner.

Later we learned that platform was the roof of the underground parking. You can see the retaining wall in the right corner. The people living in the house on the other side of the wall refused to move. We could understand their reluctance to give up their Colonial era home even though they lost their back yard and privacy. There are no windows on that side of the hotel as far as we could tell.

The picture does not show the second steam shovel working to excavate the last remaining pile of rock and dirt but the two steam shovels worked for two or three weeks two level what had been the ramp for the trucks carrying away the debris.

There were times when we thought this crane was going to come through the windows of the Central Mission office. And...we thought the crane operator was one brave soul to climb the ladder into the cab of the crane. It was also fascinating to watch the additions to the crane as the hotel grew.
We didn't count the number of construction workers but there must have been 100 men on the job. Security was tight--three or four security officers were on site at all times. The construction workers wore colorful hard hats and uniforms depending on their rank and tasks.

The lobby is visible on the right. The two-story parking terrace is below and will be accessed from the back of the hotel.

The floors are now all in place in this picture.

This picture shows the windows going in and the decorative front being placed on the hotel.

I like this picture because it shows some of the district of San Isidro. The original Lima South Mission home is not far from here. Also a few blocks to the right is the sacred pre-Inca huallca with the steep ramp which we toured with Margaret and Ted and Emma, Spencer, and Kate when they visited us in August.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cleaning the Angel Moroni

The Lima Temple closes in February for a deep cleaning inside and out. This is a view one doesn't often see.

The Angel Moroni is getting a complete wash down. All the spires are scrubbed as well. This is the first time we have seen the Angel Moroni getting a scrub down. POST SCRIPT: From our driver we learned Angel Moroni is getting a bano de oro, a new layer of gold leafing.

Kennedy Park, Mireflores

For 16 months we had been hearing we should go to Kennedy Park in Mireflores on a Saturday for the art show. Finally, the senior couples found a Saturday to go together not only for the art show but for a delicious pasta lunch at Glorietta's, the restaurant the Whettens found and took us to early in December.

The Mireflores Cathedral is the backdrop for the park and art show. The surrounding buildings are decidedly Colonial Spanish.

From left to right: Elders and Hnas Noall, Beals, Ghents, Seegmillers, Abeytas, and Slingerlands.

Many artists were "sticky" salespeople first and artists second. We just couldn't look at the art because they were agressivily pushing their pictures and telling us the subject matter, etc. When we hesitated, they talked of a "discuenta." We didn't buy any art but I did buy a pretty multiglass necklace.

The Abeytas sat for their portrait. They drew quite a crowd. Elder Abeyta, by the way, makes the best sopapillas and tortillas we have ever eaten.

If I had bought any artesania tipico, one of colorful, canvas-on-wood paintings would have been my choice.

This guy is typical of the street vendors we run into when we go to Inca Market, Larco Mar, or any other tourist venue. I did not buy my necklace from him.

Glorietta's is famous for their homemade Italian meat and vegetable sauces and homemade pastas. Dad and I shared a pasta sampler.

This musician was amazingly talented with his mandolin and pan pipes. We were happy to give him soles.

This is an alley of unique restaurants--Italian, Mexican style, pizzas, and cosmopolitan restaurants, not Italian food Peruano style or Mexican Peruano style, etc. The restaurants reflect the uniqueness of Mireflores and San Isidro where one hears more English and European languages in addition to the Spanish.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thin Air and ...Bullet Holes!?!

President Sloan met our plane in Quito. The day before Dad had admitted one of his missionaries with an appendicitis. He was operated on in the evening. President Sloan asked us if we'd like to visit him on the way to the mission home. Of course we did. Quito is at about 9000 ft. above sea level. We came from sea level and didn't think anything about thin air or the effects of altitude but, when we climbed the stairs to the skywalk, I became quite light headed.

This is one of the views from the mission home in a high rise apartment building. Who would ever guess such a modern, beautiful city would be the scene of a battle between the military and the police. Less than two years ago that was the case.

It really isn't a laughing matter but we hammed it up to please the Elders who took the picture. We were shocked, however, to see not just one but several bullet holes in the plexiglass of the skywalk from the parking terrace to the hospital. The police station is just behind Dad, and the police returned the fire of the military.

The walkway was quite long, maybe the length of half a city block. The section over the highway has the bullet holes as a reminder of how unsettled the government is. The day after we arrived in Quito, President and Hna. Sloan took us to Otavalo by way of a beautiful scenic highway (see the Otavalo blog). President Sloan could not enter the highway at the usual spot, so he drove through the city to another entrance only to find that entrance backed up as well. He discovered that some Otavalans, upset with the police over some issue, had blocked the highway, cutting off access to Otavalo. President Sloan told us that was not an isolated incident. After about 30 minutes, the roadblock was removed, and we were on our way.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Quito, Ecuador is older than Lima. Pizarro founded Quito in 1552 and built his city over the last Inca's temples. The city's Colonial buildings cover a larger area. Because of that, Quito was designated a cultural center of South America. The city really is beautiful, clean, easy to walk in, and the traffic is not as heavy. Traffic rules are enforced. Drivers yielded to one another and stayed in their lanes. Funny the things one notices. We could live in Quito. Oh, the hills are green!

We arrived at the governor's palace too late to tour the building, but we looked in onto a grand patio almost as large as a parade ground. The present governor is the first governor not to live in the governor's palace in over 200 years. A young man touring all of South America on his own offered to take our picture.

The view from President and Hna. Sloan's home was breathtaking. You can see one of the five volcanoes in the background. The clouds were always hovering over the tops of the volcanoes. One morning we looked out to see the mountains clear only for a moment. By the time I had found the camera, the volcanoes were obscured. If these volcanoes ever erupt at the same time, Quito is toast...

The rooftops are either white or red tile. The city is clean and easy to get around. The outlying highways are modern and reminded us of the scenic parkways in New Jersey.

This is a typical Spanish hacienda now used as a restaurant and artesania shops.

These are the steps leading to the grand Basilica or main Cathedral and convent built over one of the last Inca's temples. We read that remnants of the Inca empire could be found beneath Quito.

This foto does not represent the steepness of this narrow road leading down from the Basilica. The roadways in the city were all narrow, built only for carriages.

One of the active volcanoes can be reached by teleferico or cable car. We made the trip only to discover we were in the clouds, it was cold at the top, and to really reach the volcano, we'd have to walk another 30 minutes on a narrow, steep path. We were happy for the birdseye view of Quito.

The hill in the background of this narrow, cobblestone street is where President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the land for the preaching of the Gospel. I don't have a date for that prayer. Our guide wanted to take us there but we were concerned about getting back to the Sloans for dinner.

We were able to enter one of the famous cathedrals on the main square. The stained glass windows were really stunning.

The vaulted ceiling and the cement archways reminded me very much of Westminister Abbey in London.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Otavalo is a beautiful valley nestled under the Andes and three active but dormant volcanoes. The most famous volcano, Cotapaxi, erupted just two years ago. President and Hna. Sloan and their family were playing a game on the bed. The concussion was deafening, they said. The fire show was spectacular. We were invited to visit Mision Quito to present the new health plan to President and Hna. Sloan and the mission nurse. The Sloans invited us to speak in two zone conferences and visit the medical doctors have been really helpful in caring for their missionaries. Otavalo is only 30 miles from Quito, but driving there takes roughly two hours. The two-lane highway winds through scenic mountains and valleys known for the huge Ecuador roses grown in green houses which spread across the valleys like white lines on a football field.

The roses are exported to the USA and to Europe. They are inexpensive, a fraction of the cost of roses in the USA. Hna. Sloan gave us a dozen long stem roses when we arrived.

The Otavalans wear the native costume their people have worn for centuries. The women wear brightly embroidered, silk blouses, black skirts, simple black sandals, and their hair is uncut and braided. The men wear white pants, white silk shirts, and white or black cloth sandals. Their hair is also long and braided. Hna. Sloan said she heard that a man whose hair is cut short has shamed the family or tribe in some way.

Dad, Hermana Sloan, and one of the missionaries we knew well from the CCM are visiting after the zone conference. The Sloans travel to Otavalo once a month for conferences and interviews. Hna. Sloan takes whole wheat bread and peanut butter and honey or hazelnut spread for a snack during the zone conference. I really enjoyed helping her make them and passing them to the missionaries. She packed a fun car-picnic lunch for us all--tuna sandwiches with sliced apples (a novel idea and unique taste experience), fruits, veggies, granola bars, and chocolate. When we arrived in Otavalo, we went directly to the ward building for the conference.

There is nothing like seeing two Hermanas I have known, taught, and loved while serving in the CCM. These two are the highest baptising companionship. They just sparkle with love for the work and the people. Otavalo is one place all the missionaries want to serve.

In this little city there are two stakes and 18 wards. This is a typical South America ward building. There is an Elder in the CCM right now from Otavalo. It was so fun to tell him we had just been there. A few months ago we had two other Elders and an Hermana. The Hna. and one of the Elders dressed in the native dress and wore the long braid. The other Elder and the one who arrived at the CCM this week have the long braids but missionary suits.

Hermana Sloan was excited to take me to the market at the center of town. We had about an hour before we were to speak--she thought we could do it in a short time. I could have stayed the whole day! This was the market of markets. Talk about "local color," the women and men were beautiful. The old folks were weathered and fascinating. This woman is winding her alpaca wool to weave a rug or blanket. She has a pile of wool at her feet which she winds neatly around her neck. Their brightly colored and designed blankets were just mouthwateringly beautiful. Alas! We had no room in our carry-on suitcases. Dad wanted to go back to see the market so we went a second time for just a half hour the second day.

The woman facing forward in the picture is embroidering. Neither woman looked up when I took their picture.

Hna. Sloan said these litle girls, twins possibly, usually ask for money when someone takes their picture. I didn't think of it at the time and didn't have pockets to put change in which usually is a good idea on days like this. You can see the lacy sheer sleeves.

This couple fascinated me. They couldn't have been any taller than 4'. I followed them around discreetly trying to get a picture of their weathered faces. They had come to market to buy blankets.

The Sloans had booked two lodges on a lake under the three volcanoes. Patty, the woman with us, knows the Sloans well. Clearly, they have a wonderful relationship with the owners and service people. Patty served our meals and made up our rooms. She also lit our first of two fires which we needed. It was colder than we were prepared for. Fortunately, Hna. Sloan had an extra sweater she gave me. The next day she bought another one at the market for $10!

The gardens were works of art. These flowering hedges are planted on the diagonal.

Roses were arranged so beautifully. We even had roses in our lodge rooms.

These two mallards must have been married. They didn't hang with the other ducks at all. The white one "chattered" incessently leading us to believe it was a she. The black and white one said nothing. Funny! They were fun enough to watch that we followed them around the edge of the lake. They also hung out in the water lilies just under the window where we were sitting for breakfast. They were fishing for breakfast as well.

This is the breakfast room. The dining hall is in the back on the lake.

The clouds are obscuring one of the volcanes. In fact, we never did see the top of this one. The Sloans like to take their two daughters with them when they aren't in school. There are activities like the paddle boats, fishing, horses, etc.

This was the view out our bathroom window--three llamas grazing. Margaret and Ted, these llamas really do make great lawn mowers.

Our room was the second gable from the right.

Dad and I enjoyed a leisurely morning the second day because we didn't have to be at the conference until 10 am. We enyoyed a wonderful country breakfast, read our scriptures on a bench at the lake front, and walked around the grounds until Hna. Sloan came to get us.

This is one of my favorite fotos. The clouds had parted enough to get a little view of the cone of the volcano which erupted one night when the Sloans were in Otavalo.

The third volcano was never fully visible but it is the backdrop to the gardens where the llama were grazing. This picture was taken from our bathroom window early in the morning.