Andes — Part 5: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu means "Old Peak" in Quechua

Machu Picchu is counted among the seven wonders of the modern world and widely regarded as the most popular international tourist destination in South America — no wonder given its impressive architecture and majestic location. We spent an entire day here, beginning with a tour of the first part of this ancient city with our … Keep reading »

Andes — Part 4: The Incas

Huge stones, cut and polished to fit like a puzzle, at Sacsayhuaman

We had a chance to learn about the Inca culture by visiting three impressive archaeological sites as well as the home of a family living in a stone structure that predates the arrival of the Spanish five centuries ago. Sacsayhuaman contains huge stones that archaeologists believe were cut and shaped with bronze chisels and hematite … Keep reading »

Andes — Part 3: The Trek

The trek begins

Spring has arrived in the Southern Hemisphere.  Up in the mountains, flowers are in bloom and grasses are changing from gold to green.  Insects are emerging, birds are singing and sheep are grazing in the midday sunshine. Visitors to Peru typically travel to places like the Sacred Valley of the Incas by bus or car.  … Keep reading »

Andes — Part 2: The Trees

Entering Yachay Wasi (House of Knowledge)

Where are they?  The mountains are stunning, but something seems missing.  The only forests we see are swaths of eucalyptus planted on the hillsides near each village and town.  Though quite useful for firewood or supporting the roofs of adobe houses, these invasive plants imported over a century ago from Australia tend to monopolize the … Keep reading »

Adventure in the Andes — Part 1

Departure from Lima

What might it be like to live in the highest mountain range in the Americas?  We had an opportunity to learn and serve in the Andes during an extended visit and will share our experiences in a series of posts over the next few days. Our adventure began with a five-day trip to the town … Keep reading »

Helping and Hiking


We headed east to Cieneguilla to volunteer at Corazones en Accion (Hearts in Action), an organization that works to prevent child abuse in the eastern cone of Lima.   The next day we hiked at Lomos de Lucumo, an area that is unusually green due to the marine layer that penetrates the foothills here.  We’ll let … Keep reading »

Psychology, Food and Art

Nestor Vergara is a psychologist and expert on the "young cities" on the edge of Lima

Nestor Vergara is a psychologist and resident of Lima’s eastern cone.  He works for the government ministry that provides services to women and children who suffer from domestic violence or sexual abuse.  Mr. Vergara gave an eloquent and informative description of the social problems faced by those living in Lima’s marginal neighborhoods.  And he illustrated … Keep reading »

Another Side of Lima

Shalom -- Program for Disabled Children

During their first week the students have learned a lot about life near the center of Lima.  They have toured downtown, taken part in lectures and language classes and, most of all, interacted with their host families. At week’s end we extended our reach to the outskirts of Lima, visiting two Pueblos Jovenes (young cities).  … Keep reading »

Lectures and Language

James Plunkett discussing recent political events in Peru

Learning is fun — especially when it is relevant to life in contemporary Peru.  The week began with a lecture by James Plunkett on national politics and current events.  Mr. Plunkett moved to Lima in the 1960s.  He engaged us by telling the story of his life while simultaneously educating us about the presidents who … Keep reading »

Historic Lima

On Sergio's Bus

Lima is the capital of Peru in many ways:  politically, financially, culturally.  Named “City of the Kings” by its founder, the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the city is teaming with history from the colonial, republican and modern periods. During our visit we explored the main Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas, a treasure trove of … Keep reading »