Recent Posts

February 21, 2012

Animals and Art

Peru is known in equestrian circles around the world for its caballos de paso, or riding horses.  These creatures are bred and trained for an extremely smooth ride.  We visited a ranch in Lurin for barbecued chicken and a chance to meet these animals up close.  Actually, “ranch” is an understatement. The Instituto de Educación Superior Tecnológico Privado (INTAP) trains people from all over the country in the art and science of horse rearing (  Our tour included a variety of animals, some familiar and others foreign.  At day’s end we had the pleasure of witnessing a riding demonstration by…

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February 19, 2012

Learn, Work, Play

There is so much to learn about Peru.  Nestor Vergara taught us about the social and economic realities of life in the marginal areas that surround Lima.  He moved here from the rain forest city of Iquitos to pursue a college degree and explained how he and his wife built their home — from straw mats to plywood to concrete block — over several decades.  The statistics Mr. Vergara offered to quantify problems such as domestic violence, child abuse and other social ills were sobering.  But he sounded a hopeful tone at the end of his presentation, reminding us of…

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February 9, 2012

Another Side of Lima

Villa Maria is an hour’s bus drive south of Miraflores, where we have our lectures, workshops and Spanish classes.  It’s often referred to as a pueblo joven, or young city, because it didn’t exist fifty years ago.  In fact, most of the populated areas in the “cones” that occupy Lima’s periphery were bare hillsides in 1950, when less than one million people lived here.  Today there are over 8 million inhabitants. What is life like in a pueblo joven?  We organized a two-day visit to Villa Maria with our program assistant, Alicia, to find out.  Alicia settled here in 1979…

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February 5, 2012

We began our Lima study program at Catedral del Buen Pastor (Cathedral of the Good Shepherd), our venue for lectures, workshops and Spanish classes.  The host families helped each student find their way to Good Shepherd using public transportation, a small but significant feat given the complexity of Lima’s commercial bus system. Our study coordinator, Celia, gave a presentation on Lima culture, comparing the customs in Peru’s capital with those in the Andes.  James Plunkett, an American who has lived here for over 40 years, described recent political events and gave his perspective on Peru’s rapidly-growing economy.   Dr. Eduardo Arroyo…

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February 3, 2012

Lima Families

We returned from our 19-day adventure in the Andes and were warmly welcomed to Peru’s capital city by twenty-three eager host families.  Several of the families who live near the Lima airport met us there while the others gathered at Catedral Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd Cathedral) in Miraflores.  Our study coordinator, Celia, made the introductions and we enjoyed refreshments prepared by our program assistant, Alicia.  Then, one by one, the families departed with their newest members and ventured out into the warm evening air.

February 2, 2012

Machu Picchu

One of the seven wonders of the modern world.  UNESCO World Heritage site.  Best-preserved Inca city in South America.  Probably the most-visited tourist destination on the continent. There are many ways to describe Machu Picchu (“old peak” in quechua).  For the Inca people, this was a sacred place, somewhere people came to offer gifts to Inti, the sun god, and Pachamama, mother earth. The remote location kept Machu Picchu a secret for centuries.  In 1911 Yale professor Hiram Bingham “discovered” this archaeological marvel with the help of local farmers.  He returned a year later with a grant from National Geographic…

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January 31, 2012


We said goodbye to the host families in San Jeronimo, Huacarpay and Lucre and prepared for the last leg of our adventure in the Andes — an exploration of the Sacred Valley.  We began in Pisac, touring the vast archaeological site high above the valley.  Then we hiked down, down, down to the main plaza in the center of town to check out the Sunday market.  It’s the rainy season and we were due for a good rain.  And hail too?  We got soaked on our way down the mountain! The next day we awoke to sunshine and spent the…

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January 28, 2012


In the early 16th century, the Inca Empire extended over all of modern-day Peru as well as parts of Colombia and Ecuador to the north, Brazil to the east and Bolivia, Chile and Argentina to the south.    Twelve million people lived in what was called Tawantinsuyo, the quechua word for “four parts together.”  Cusco was the capital of this empire and was widely referred to as the “navel of the world.” We spent a day visiting Cusco and several of the archaeological sites that encircle it.  We began in Tambomachay, a resting place where the Inca (King) and his family…

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January 27, 2012


The music of the Andes is distinct for its use of native wind instruments — including quenas (flutes) and sikus (pan flutes).  Early versions have been found in archaeological sites dating back thousands of years.   Charangos (lutes that resemble a small guitar) and other stringed instruments are relative newcomers, part of the Spanish influence that began in the 16th century.  Today, wind and string instruments are combined with percussion to make beautiful music. Mauro Claros Chatas and Americo (Amaru) Mejia Suñiga are prominent in the Cusco music scene.  Mauro is originally from Lake Titicaca, where he grew up playing…

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January 23, 2012


How many trees can a group of SST students plant in two days?   246. We ventured up to the town of Acopia to meet our host, Luis Delgado, founder of Yachay Wasi (House of Learning).   Yachay Wasi is part of an international movement to plant a billion trees in deforested regions all over the world.  Luis has committed his organization to planting a million trees in the four lakes region of Peru.  We did our part to move him a bit closer to his goal, using funds donated from friends back in Goshen to pay for native qeuna seedlings. Most…

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