Saturday, April 24, 2010

Visit to Popayan

Several weeks ago we had the opportunity to travel to the beautiful little town of Popayan.
We fell in love with the town and the people we met. We stayed at the Hotel Monastario which is located behind a large Catholic Cathedral and at one time was a monastary.

The grounds are breath taking and the temperature was perfect for our wonderful adventure.

I love the archways that surround the hotel.

We were only there for one day but we packed a lot in during our visit. The following morning before we flew back to Bogota, we had a relaxing breakfast on this elegant terrace.

The main plaza in the old section of the city is surrounded by beautiful white buildings and pathways between exquisite garden. Royal and I are standing in front of a very old tree on our way to the mayors office. Far off in the background you can see an ever present statue adorning the plaza.

This is a typical street in the old section of town known for its white buildings. You not only see cars and bikes but in the distance you can see a wagon being pulled by a horse. A very typical scene in Colombia.

The foliage is rich and green and beautiful. I couldn't stop taking pictures in this plaza because every corner had a new unusual tree or flower.

This photo was taken from the window in the mayors office of the plaza. As I mentioned before, every building is white and with all the green trees it is muy tranquillo.

We had a very productive meeting with the mayor and first lady. In the photo is the district president that traveled with us, the first lady, the mayor and then me and Royal.

Our main purpose for taking the trip was to visit the plant here in Colombia that is capable of producing the nutritious food supplement Atmit which the church supplies to malnourished children particularly in Africa. Colombia is the only other place that Atmit is produced outside of Provo. There is a great need for Atmit in places here in Colombia and we are hoping that the church agrees to another Atmit project here .

One nutrient that is added to the Atmit in Colombia is a grain that is grown here called Quinua. The above picture shows the quinua before it has been ground up and added to the flour.

This photo shows Royal filling a bag of Atmit with the ingredients that are then mixed with water to produce this most nutritious food supplement.

This company also produces a very delicious cookie that contains the nutritious grain. They sent us back to Bogota with about 10 bags of the cookies and I have been very popular at the office ever since. Sadly, I will run out of the cookies next week.

After breakfast the morning we left and before our flight, we walked over to see the beautiful cathedral that used the monestary where we stayed. We really loved our visit to Popayan.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This and That

We recently visited several places in Colombia with a short term specialist to determine where we would have a vision project. At each place we visited, reading glasses and sun glasses were requested. Since we have a big inventory of glasses in our store house, we spent a morning last week boxing up glasses to be sent to Bucaramanga, Barranquilla and Cali Colombia. I am standing there admiring our hard work.

Royal is going over his notes to be sure that all the glasses were equally distributed. These items are stored at a house that is attached to the Ahlambra Stake Center.

Last week we had a two day holiday because of Holy week. Five senior missionary couples decided to take a trip up to the quaint colonial town of Villa de Leyva. On the way, we stopped at this rest stop and watched the young lady with her bucket of dough make arepas which were cooked on the brick stove behind her. We bought some and they were hot and delicious.

Presidente Casablanca and Elder Lunt enjoying their arepas. Also in the photo is Hermana Stull the psychologist for the area who is going home on the 14th of April.

We had lunch at a lovely restaurant. A unique kind of trout is a specialty dish in this area of Colombia so many of us had the trout. Pictured are Elder Stull, the Lunts and Hermana Chalmers mother of Michelle Chalmers of the McLean Stake.

I love this little town with its white buildings, unique roofs and cobblestone streets. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. I even had a shop owner escort me two shops down to find some tagua seeds.

Everyplace you go in Colombia seems to be built on hills. This photo shows the missionaries walking up such a hill only on cobblestone streets

Both coming and going you see military strategically placed along the roads. An interesting custom is as you pass one of these military folks, they give you a thumbs up and you return the gesture back to them

One of the things I have become intrigued with here in Colombia is tagua. Above is the tagua pod. It comes from the tagua palm that grows in moist coastal areas. The seed inside the pod is extremely hard and its texture is similar to ivory. The seeds, after harvesting, are allowed to dry for 3 months during which time they become very hard and dense. Then craftsman take the seed and polish it to a beautiful lustre. They can also be dyed brillant colors. Many interesting crafts are made from the seeds.

Above is my collection of polished tagua seeds. You can see that they can be polished to the point where all the brown is eliminated or you can get them in various stages of brown and white. Each seed has a small hole in it where it was attached to the pod.

Beautiful crafts and jewelry are carved from the tagua seed. Above is a nativity made from the seeds.

Pictured above is a bracelet and a necklace I have purchased made out of tagua seed.