Getting Oriented: Day One in Lima

Given their late arrival on Wednesday, well past midnight, students appreciated having the orientation start pushed back by an hour to 10 a.m. on Thursday, their first full day in Lima.

We began with a brisk walk from the hostel, Albergue Miraflores House, to Casa Goshen, a fourth-floor, walk-up apartment in the San Isidro section of Lima, with a slight view of the ocean on a clear day.

After introductions, we entered into a time of worship and reflection, inspired by Genesis 1 and 2.  Students were invited to take a marker or pencil and paper and give some form to their feelings, “in the beginning” of their time in Peru.  Images included a lion alongside a cat (the brave and the tentative), a sun with cool, dark glasses (appreciating the dramatic shift from winter to summer) and an empty language bubble (wondering how communication will go in Spanish).

Students pose for a group photo along the malecón after their picnic lunch.
Students pose for a group photo along the malecón after their picnic lunch.

Then followed an introduction to the syllabus.

We made our way to the malecón, a circuit of pathways and parks that overlooks the coastline, for a picnic lunch of chicken salad sandwiches, chips, carrot slices and Casino mint cookies (students often buy them in bulk to take home).

A few games helped us to get better acquainted. One that required us to talk about our names proved to be very insightful. The other, which Joanna won, required each person to get signatures from different people in the group after they answered a question (estimate the population of Lima) or performed certain tasks (walk backwards while reciting Goshen College’s five core values).

Ammon offers Maria a blessing during one of our get-acquainted games.
Ammon offers Maria a blessing during one of our get-acquainted games.

Following a walk along the malecón, we headed back to finish our orientation and enjoy a fruit-tasting sampler prepared by Alicia Taipe Tello, a longtime cook for the college. Before each tasting, Alicia provided a profile of the fruit. All told, students tasted 14 different fruits, including aguaje, carambola, chirimoya, ciruela, cocona, maracuyá, membrillo, and tuna (not the fish).

Students learned how to eat a whole granadilla, which has a hard shell that needs to be partially peeled. Then they poked a hole through the skin on top and slurped the yellow, jelly-like pulp, along with many black seeds.

Our nine students cast their votes for favorite fruit of the day: granadilla (3), carambola (2), ciruela (2) and maracuyá (2).

Elizabeth braves a taste of maracuyá.
Elizabeth braves a taste of maracuyá.

Next up was a walk  to the Ovalo Gutierrez (one of many large ovalos, or traffic circles), which students will use as a landmark for traveling on public transportation to and from class — and Casa Goshen. Our Lima study coordinator, Celia Vasquez de Aguirre, met us at the Ovalo and gave the students an introduction to Lima’s public transportation system, and then everyone had a chance to change money from U.S. dollars into Peruvian nuevo soles.

Back at Casa Goshen, we enjoyed an evening meal served in the traditional two parts: a starter, solterito de queso (a cold salad that includes corn, cheese, beans and tomato); and the main dish,  guiso de quinoa (a quinoa stew, served over rice), with mango maracuyá juice as our drink.

The orientation conversation continued until it was time to hand out textbooks. Before 9 p.m. we managed to find space for everyone in a single combi, or commuter van, for a ride back to the hostel.

Photos and editing by Karen Stoltzfus