We have been working hard on campus, but since classes at Matias University begin on Monday, we have had quite a bit of time up front to do some sightseeing and exploring around this beautiful country. On Wednesday, we went to the beach (Punta Roca, for all of you surfers out there), where Jason finally found a coconut tree to mess with, and Grace found a sweet little parrot friend. The sand is black here, since it's volcanic, and on our way we drove past mango trees, starfruit trees, and a rhododendron tree at least 30 feet tall (I have a rhododendron outside of my house, off the porch. It is 3 feet tall at the most - a shrub. I will blame my soil.)
Today we went to "El Boqueron" (meaning 'wide gap') National Park to see the San Salvador volcano, pictured above. Grace said it was like driving through a post card. I felt like I was on a movie set. Someone mentioned 'Jurassic Park'. Unbelievable plants, colors, bugs, birds, and then we got to the crater and were able to hike along the rim a little and look down in (it hasn't erupted since 1917, and there was no steam coming out, or rumbling, so we felt perfectly safe). The jungle here is gorgeous. On the way back down, we stopped for yet another great meal at a coffee plantation. Jamey and I decided to go native and order some typical Salvadorean fare of pupusas, yuca (it actually is a yucca root, but looks and tastes like big thick french fries), and plantains that were filled with beans and cheese, with horchata to drink. YUM.
Tomorrow we will be attending the Union Church here (an English-speaking church, where a lot of missionary families and embassy personnel go), and then we are off and running early Monday morning. We will be on both Matias campuses handing out some freshman survival kits (consisting of a soccer dvd, a flyer about Vida Estudiantil, and candy of course), raffling off a world cup soccer ball (boys) and a designer purse (girls), and just continuing to meet and talk to students. We will be helping the student leaders at Matias (about 10 or so) with their weekly meeting, and just talking to them and encouraging them, and our US students will be running a couple of weekly English clubs. In between, we will continue to explore, and enjoy, and eat, and generally feel very blessed that we get to spend our time in this amazing place!