our bus was actually a great place to see the country. we were up high, didn't have to fuss with maps or driving, and had a huge wall of windows to look out.
most of the pictures were taken through my window. at first i hesitated. the purist in me wouldn't allow it. i didn't want an extra pane of glass, the added glare, some haze, or the blur of motion, but i argued (internally) that this would probably be the only time i'd see these exact things. i'd make the best of it. so snap away i did.
roads were washed out everywhere. at 4 this morning, a semi was washed off the road during a mud slide. they were busy trying to clean it up.
by 10 when we passed, it was mostly cleared.
a load of government manure.
it was chilly here. this place is directly west of guat city, but because of the rugged mountain terrain, it's not easily accessible. we're talking the long and winding road. it felt so good outside. some fresh mountain air is exactly what we were looking for. gar went alone to be at one with nature.
here you can overlook the entire valley. it's a valley, tucked away, and would be able to sustain a people very nicely. we talked of a story where corrupt priests kidnapped 24 maidens and carried them into the wilderness. there they survived and lived for years without being discovered.
almolonga ( place where the water springs up)
entwined with this story is a favorite of mine.
at one time it was inhabited by those who escape the reign of an oppressing king, a people of patience, perseverance, and faith. their story teaches of overcoming obstacles and bearing your burdens patiently and with cheerfulness. (to me, these people were awe inspiring.)
we drove through 'the breadbasket of central america' and i tell you, truck loads of fruits and vegetables constantly pour out of that valley. they are able to produce year round because of all the springs of water. it's surrounded by mountains and is only accessible through two small passes.
it's interesting how they utilize every square inch of the land. hills and valleys look like green patch work quilts.
even mountains are terraced and used for growing. it's truly an amazing sight. it's just so green.
the mountains are topped with clouds a lot of the time, making it hard to see across the valley.
then the clouds really rolled in. as we drove, the clouds would let up here and there. i saw (white) green houses covering the landscape. i asked manuel what they were growing. flowers. how heavenly.
between these two valleys is quetzaltenango , or xela (shey-luh). we saw the new temple under construction. the temple site is perfect. it's at the top of a hill and will overlook the city beautifully. i imagine when it's finished it will be amazing at night with its soft white glow. mom, dad and dave lee each served a mission in this area. they were excited and humbled to see a temple erected in the place they worked so hard. this is what it's all about. i was so happy we got to drive by and get out for a bit. it was a hard hat area behind the fence, but the workers were nice enough to let us stand by and take pictures.
mom shared a story about another temple construction. during construction, some graffiti went up on one of the walls (before the phase where it's covered in marble). the project superintendent came through, saw the damage and immediately let the foreman know he needed to have the graffiti removed. when the same leader returned, he noticed the graffiti had been painted over, but not removed. he told the foreman that wasn't good enough. it had to be removed. a cover-up was not what was intended, and is not fit for such a sacred building.
it made me think about the careful way we deal with the house of the lord. the special attention to detail starts from the foundation of the building and is carried on throughout the life of it. i love the symbolism in this.
we continued in to the center of xela and had lunch. dad shared stories of serving a mission here. the life-changing, character building stories that make boys into men. what's not to love?
i adore towns like this. they speak to me. again, we see the modern lives of those here today juxtaposed with the antiquity all around.
garrett even took the camera and shot a few pics. it's an inspiring place.
our time waned, we walked toward the bus, snapping along the way. gar still had the camera. leaning against a wall was an old man selling his wares. i knew gar was going to get a picture of him, so i dug into my wallet/passport carrier to get him some money. suddenly i hear this hissing, like a territorial cat. it jarred me, and i looked up, frozen momentarily. the man looked wild and unpredictable, and definitely on the defensive. his face was leathery; deep creases carved out his features. a straw hat shaded his face. his milky eyes burned defiantly in our direction. cracking his bundle of bracelets like whips, he yelled at us but it sounded like gibberish. it must have been his indian dialect. thinking he was ticked that we hadn't paid him yet for a picture, i motioned that i was getting it. faster, faster, amy. it was like typing while your boss is looking over your shoulder. my fingers fumbled. shock had worn off for gar. now, getting a picture of this crazed man was his mission, and he tried again. the hiss shook the both of us for the second time. i handed him the money and he hissed again. figuring he was insulted by the amount, i was about to get another dollar. just then our tour guide manuel called to us and motioned us onto the bus, only 10 yards away. relief engulfed us. i had never been happier or more willing to walk to the beautiful sanctuary that was our bus. as we approached manuel said, 'he thinks you were trying to steal his soul with your camera.' wow. didn't see that coming. with heart racing, face hot and pounding, i walked numbly to my seat and melted into it. garrett made the comment that he'd heard of this character in one of the 'tennis shoes among the nephites' books. we laughed, still uneasy. i flipped on my camera and viewed the pictures gar had taken. cool buildings, arches, the park, the armed guard. none of the cat man.
then i went back, looking more closely at one of the buildings. there, in the bottom right corner, he stood, leaning against the wall, pocketing money he made from a sale.
after viewing the photos we'd taken, i was back to normal. it's amazing how therapeutic photography is.
honestly, this was the only time i ever felt unsure, afraid, or uneasy in our surroundings. it was less than a minute, and capable, wonderful manuel came to our rescue. we love that man. but more on that tomorrow.