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.

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