Recent Posts

November 20, 2010

Service in Azulis

It’s a rustic six weeks of service for SSTers Nate and Serena, who are living about as far off the grid (no phone, no Internet, no electricity, no road access) as they can in Azulis, a community of about 30 Yanesha families in the department of Pasco. Azulis is about a 2-hour drive from Villa Rica, the nearest town, and then another 50 minutes of walking through the jungle. Nate and Serena packed in their mosquito nets, knee-high rubber boots, and can-do attitude for their stay in this rainforest community. Serena has been working with the Instituto Etnobotanico Yanesha, where…

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November 9, 2010

Service in Chanchamayo

The road from Lima to La Merced is winding and steep and long, and during the 189-mile journey, travelers get a view of Peru’s three regions: the arid coast, the imposing mountains, and the lush, green jungle. La Merced (pop. approx. 50,000) is the provincial capital of the Chanchamayo region, which is blessed with warm weather, waterfalls, and superb coffee and fruit production (think bananas, pineapple, citrus fruits, and avocados). Two of our SSTers, Sara and Caleb, are experiencing that agricultural sector firsthand for six weeks. Sara is at Chanchamayo Highland Coffee, an organization that works with local farmers to…

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November 9, 2010

Service in Huaraz

Our travel schedule has kept us from posting lately, so apologies for the delayed update. Kevin, Heather, and sus hijos visited Huaraz at the end of October to check in with Lauren, Derek, and Paul, who are doing service in this mountain community. Huaraz (pop. 120,000) is about 260 miles from Lima and is the capital of the state of Ancash. The city itself is more than 10,000 feet above sea level, and the surrounding mountains rise far higher, making for spectacular scenery. (Peru’s highest peak, the nearby Huascarán, is over 22,000 feet—nearly 2,000 feet above North America’s highest, Alaska’s…

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October 19, 2010

Despedida

The SSTers’ farewell to Lima was, as several commented, “sappy”—a mix of sad and happy. Sad to say goodbye to our gracious host families here, our Goshen friends, an exciting city, and the first half of our semester in Peru–but happy to go explore new places, meet new people, and find out what the “service” part of the term has in store. We celebrated our host families, language instructors, and several others at our going-away party, the despedida. Each student demonstrated exceptional skill at public speaking in Spanish with a short tribute to his or her host family, and the…

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October 19, 2010

Our visit to the district of Villa Maria del Triunfo in southern Lima showed us what a pueblo jóven looks like as it grows up. The area, which was founded almost 50 years ago, is now home to approximately 360,000 people, many of whom struggle with underemployment and poverty. Our first stop was Jesus Mi Buen Pastor, a preschool with about 60 students. The SSTers got a preschool-style workout as they granted repeated requests for “airplane” rides and other high intensity playground activities. Our hosts for the night were our friend Alicia and her family, who directed us right away…

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October 13, 2010

Villa el salvador

Just 50 years ago, Lima’s population was close to 1 million. Today the greater metro area is approximately 8.5 million, or nearly one in three Peruvians. The stories behind that spectacular growth are sometimes tragic: earthquakes and floods that decimated communities drove people into Lima, as did the terrorism perpetrated by the Shining Path and other radical groups in smaller cities and villages in the 1980s and ‘90s. But many migration stories are hopeful: People move from the countryside to Lima in pursuit of education, employment, and a better life. Unfortunately, that pursuit is typically difficult and dangerous. One of…

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October 11, 2010

Food fest!

Even if the SSTers were able to try a different Peruvian dish for each breakfast, lunch, and dinner of their semester here, they’d still miss many of the country’s hundreds of traditional offerings. Peru is known in culinary circles for its tasty diversity, and gastronomic tours here have been gaining in popularity. We recently were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at (and taste of) two of the county’s most distinctive dishes: ceviche and panchamanca. Ceviche is fish that’s been “cooked” in lime juice rather than with heat and seasoned with ají (Peruvian hot peppers), onion, and cilantro. Our guest chef,…

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October 5, 2010

touring cusco

We donned our hiking shoes, grabbed our cameras, and headed out to some fantastic archaeological sites during our trip to Cusco and the nearby Sacred Valley. Of course one stop was Machu Picchu, the magnificent “lost city” that was (re)discovered by American Hiram Bingham nearly 100 years ago (it was never lost to the locals). We spent the day enjoying in person the mountains and Incan ruins that we’ve previously only enjoyed in pictures. We also explored some other lesser-known yet just as fascinating sites: the fortress complex at Sacsayhuaman that overlooks the city of Cusco; the mountainside terraces at…

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October 3, 2010

service in cusco

We recently spent a week in the Andean city of Cusco, a short flight and a world away from our base in Lima. Most tourists visit Cusco to explore its archaeological sites—the city was the capital of the Incan empire and is gateway to Peru’s most famous tourist site, Machu Picchu. While we did our share of touring (see the next blog post), we also took three days for service projects in nearby towns. For two days we were in the small village of Lucre (about an hour’s drive from Cusco) where we helped rebuild an adobe house that was…

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September 27, 2010

The art(s) of Peru

Peru has more than its fair share of beauty, from the mountains to the ocean to Peruvians themselves. Last week the SSTers paid special attention to beauty found in the arts, first with a workshop on joyeria (jewelry) presented by Mike’s host parents, Ricardo Mauriola and Eliana Carrasco. The two artisans create and sell items they make from natural materials found in the selva (jungle). After Ricardo told us about the materials they use, from seeds to rocks to natural dyes, we got to work creating our own bracelets and necklaces (with some help from the professionals). The following day…

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