We stayed at the Hotel Alicante in Apaneca last night. While the accommodations were somewhat rudimentary, they made up for it by having a small zoo adjacent to the hotel. It is also surrounded by lovely gardens and a pretty pool.
The town of Ataco had the prettiest murals on the walls of many of the homes and businesses. We have been so impressed by the quality and quantity of art in El Salvador. Some of the handicrafts we found here were the prettiest yet. Even Brittany couldn't resist a little momento from Ataco. Up till today nothing had even tempted her! It was nice that they had the old mixed with the new. It wasn't just reproductions of Mayan art, but imagination gone wild!
We stopped to see Tazumal, the biggest archeological site in El Salvador. It turns out the city of Chalchuapa is built over much of the site, but it is still pretty impressive. The story of 7 different civilizations building on it was so interesting. They had Olmecs, Toltecs, Maya, and Pipil. It was like a who's who of Mesoamerican Indian tribes. And to think Crystal passed it every day in her missionary work for 4 1/2 months!
We then spent several hours visiting Crystal's friends from her mission. They all loved her and were very happy to see her. It made her so happy. Having only her mother to hang out with for 3 months has made her forget she once had a life! Hermana Ena posed for a picture here with her dog Bebe.
Andre was happy to have his picture taken, but had to fix his hair first for the photo! Crystal (Hermana Bush to them) looks on in the mirror.
We had printed pictures of the temple on fabric and stretched them in embroidery hoop before we left Maryland. Here the family Barrios poses with their temple picture. Elmer and his son, Pablo were baptized on Crystal's last day in the mission. It was so wonderful hearing Elmer tell about his conversion, and how it helped him stop smoking, which he had never been able to do before. They were so grateful for Crystal's influence in their lives.
It was appropriate to stop in Santa Ana, the new headquarters for Crystal's mission. They changed the name from San Salvador West/Belize to San Salvador Santa Ana/Belize mission. They also re-aligned the boundaries, so some of the areas that Crystal served in in the capital are no longer in her mission. We had a little rain, but nothing to dampen our enthusiasm. We noticed Belize was hit with a tropical storm today. We're glad it didn't ruin our holiday!
We met Uncle Kent and cousin Eli tonight for the cultural event. We had been unable to get tickets for it, but ended going late and finding out we didn't really need a ticket. We missed a lot of the program, which was sad, because I love singing and dancing. But, it was great, because we got their in time for several numbers before the grand finale. The costumes were great, the dancing was terrific, and the spirit in the stadium was so strong. It was really carried by the youth on the floor cheering. You felt their strength, and it made you feel proud to have been a small part of the growth of the church in El Salvador.
At the cultural event Crystal ran into many more people she knew. I guess she (and we) stand out in the crowd. She was feeling the love tonight! She even met up with a former missionary companion, Herman Sing, from Honduras!
Special kudos go out to Jorge, our tour guide, who picked up Kent and Eli, and came to pick us up when we called him on short notice to take us to the stadium. He has been so generous with his time. I hope he gets to see his wife and family a little after we leave next week!