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Aidan watches carefully as Camilo Ballumbrosio demonstrates a rhythm on the cajón peruano.
This week we took a break from traditional lectures as we further explored the arts in Perú. From painting ceramics, to dancing to the Marinera Norteña, to playing the cajón, we had a chance to participate in this rich aspect of Peru’s cultural heritage.
Our week began with a visit to the offices of Manos Amigas, a fair trade organization that distributes products created by Peruvian artisans to foreign markets. Their largest customer is Ten Thousand Villages, and many of their products can be found in the Ten Thousand Villages store in Goshen. Manos Amigas operates according to 10 principles set out by the World Fair Trade Organization. These principles include (among other things) payment of a fair price, good working conditions, capacity building, no child labor, and respect for the environment.
After touring their warehouse, we visited the studio of one of their artisans, Leonidas Orellana, who produces ceramics. Leonidas fled his home in the Andean highlands after his life was threatened during the violence in the 80s. He brought his trade with him to Lima and started making ceramics in a humble workshop inside his one-room house. He has since built a thriving business with help from Manos Amigas. In fact, he has been so successful that he will soon be phased out of the Manos Amigas program and be able to distribute his art independently. After a demonstration from Leonidas, students spent some time working with clay, and had an opportunity to do some painting in his rooftop studio. The students were quite dedicated to painting their toritos de Pucará (bulls of Pucara). The arrival of lunch, served by Leonidas’ family, finally convinced them to put on the finishing touches.
On Tuesday, we had an Art and Literature walking tour, starting on the malecón at the Parque del Faro (Lighthouse Park), and ending in downtown Miraflores at Parque Kennedy. Along the way, we heard speeches from our Artists, Activists and Authors series. Students spoke on writers Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Ramón Ribeyro, poet and journalist Antonio Cisneros, and visual artist Nani Cárdenas. Upon reaching their destination, students were rewarded for surviving the heat with some ice cream from the Choco Museo.
On Wednesday morning, we had a full-body educational experience – a dance workshop on La Marinera Norteña. The Marinera Norteña is considered the national dance of Perú. It involves a partner, fast footwork, a handkerchief and lots of figure 8s! The workshop was led by Marcio Vera, a Peruvian Marinera champion. As you will see in the gallery photos, the students worked on this complicated and dramatic dance with flair, good humor, and some serious sweating.
Thursday and Friday
On Thursday, we traveled to the region of Chincha, to visit the town of El Carmen. El Carmen is home to the Ballumbrosio family – a family at the heart of Afro-Peruvian music and culture. We were warmly hosted by the Ballumbrosios, who provided us with food, lodging, drumming lessons, and insight into the history of African descendants in Perú. Accompanying us on the bus from Lima, was Camilo Ballumbrosio, one of the 15 children who make up this iconic family. On the way, Camilo talked about the legacy of Afro-Peruvian music which his father, the late Amador Ballumbrosio, was dedicated to sharing and preserving. He also talked about the history of the slavery in Perú, and how the area around El Carmen was populated by escaped slaves, and later, freed slaves.
Our first stop was a tour of Hacienda San Jose, located about 15 minutes outside of El Carmen. This opulent hacienda was a functioning slave plantation run by the Jesuit order beginning in 1688, and later gifted by the King of Spain to a single family which ran the plantation for several generations. At one point, over 1000 slaves worked on the plantation growing sugar cane and cotton, a crop which is still grown in the fields around El Carmen. During our tour of the grounds, we learned that this beautiful hacienda was the site of horrific treatment of slaves for almost 200 years.
After arriving in El Carmen, we were treated to lunch in the Ballumbrosio family’s home. We had a chance to eat one of the signature dishes of Afro-Peruvian cuisine — sopa seca con carapulcra, a stew of potatoes, peanuts and pork served over spiced noodles. Following lunch, Camilo led us in a workshop on the cajón — one of the main instruments in Afro-Peruvian music. The cajón is a box-like percussion instrument that is played while seated on the box. We made a circle of cajones out in the street, and attempted to learn some of the basic rhythms of Afro-Peruvian music. These rhythms were very challenging, but we had a great time creating music together. Camilo also gave us a brief demonstation of Zapateo. With some elements similar to tap dancing, Zapateo has a complex pattern of footwork which uses the feet to create percussion.
After eating supper that evening, we were able to see all these pieces of music, dance and Afro-Peruvian culture come together in a house concert by the Ballumbrosio family and friends. We got to see Zapateo, along with several other forms of traditional dancing that the Ballumbrosios have worked hard to preserve for their community over the last 50 years. At the end of the show, we were led outside to a bonfire that had been built in the street and we were invited to try some of the dance moves ourselves. We were not quite as proficient as the dancers in the show, but our enthusiasm made up for our lack of skill.
The next day, Camilo took us for a walk through El Carmen. He led us up to a hill on the outskirts of town to see the cemetery where his ancestors are buried. Afterward, those who wanted to sweat just a little bit more had a soccer match with some local children. Finally, we got chance to tour the Centro Cultural Amador Ballumbrosio, a cultural center started by the Ballumbrosios in their father’s memory to promote the cultural life of the community of El Carmen. It is still under construction, but several parts of it, including a library for local children, will be up and running next month.
After a lunch of escabeche, a dish of marinated fish covered with peppers and onions and served with sweet potatoes and rice, we boarded the bus for our return to Lima. On the way home, we couldn’t resist stopping at the one of the myriad ice cream stands lining the road. It was two ice cream stops in one week, but it was a VERY hot week. And it was a sweet ending to a wonderful trip.
Students pose with artist Victor Delfin inside his studio in Barranco.
This week, we enjoyed lots of time outside the classroom. On Monday, we spent the morning in the district of Barranco, where we visited the home of Peruvian artist, Victor Delfin. At different points in the morning, we also stopped to hear the first four student speeches in our Authors, Artists, and Activists series. On Tuesday, we visited, Museo Larco, a private museum featuring a large collection of ceramics, metalwork, textiles and other art from before the Spanish conquest. Through this collection, we learned about the indigenous societies that populated Perú for thousands of years before the Incas, such as the Chimú, Nazca, Moche and Wari. The museum itself is housed in a 17th-century mansion build on top of a 7th century pyramid.
On Thursday we had our first opportunity to leave the city of Lima for an overnight field trip. We boarded our bus for a 5-hour trip north on the Pan-American highway to visit Albufera del Medio Mundo, a protected wetland, and the sacred city of Caral, an ancient archaeological site.
On our way out of the city, we passed miles and miles of pueblos jovenes (shanty towns) built into the hills, many of which have developed into districts with increasing infrastructure. After two hours, we finally arrived at the end of what is considered metropolitan Lima, and the heavily populated areas gave way to miles and miles of barren sand dunes. Gigantic chicken farms periodically appeared out of nowhere, as well as an occasional lush, green agricultural area where rivers coming down from the mountains allow for irrigation in the desert. We stopped in one of these areas, the town of Chancay, about halfway to our destination. We ate lunch at the home of Hortensia and Juan Carlos Dulanto, who have served as a host family for past GC students during the service portion of SST, and are the host grandparents of current SST student, Erin.
After another two hours of driving, we arrived at Albufera del Medio Mundo. Our lodging for the night was a set of cottages beside the albufera, a lagoon that has a mix of both salty and fresh water, and is the central feature of this biodiverse wetland which hosts 8 different habitats. Students had some time to walk the paths around the albufera, visit the ocean, relax, and play frisbee. After a picnic supper, we built a fire and spent some time singing camp songs and reflecting on our experiences thus far in Perú. Afterwards, we enjoyed some improvised S’mores.
On Friday, we got up early for a bird walk with one of the resident environmentalists, and learned more about the local ecosystem. The albufera has 41 species of resident birds, and hosts 22 migratory birds, as well as 3 birds from the high Andes. We saw many of these birds, both large and small, on our walk along the lagoon.
Following our walk, we had a quick breakfast and were off to our next destination – the Sacred City of Caral. Caral is the oldest center of civilization in the Americas. Carbon dating of objects found at the site put its development sometime between 3000-1800 B.C., which means it was a thriving society at roughly the same time the Egyptian pyramids were being built. Caral is 14 miles inland from the coast and is situated on a desert terrace, looking over the green Supe River valley. This site has only recently begun to be studied in depth, so the surrounding natural area is still quite undeveloped. Six large pyramidal structures, large communal sites such as an amphitheater, and remnants of personal dwellings make up the site.
After bring dropped off by the bus, we needed to hike an additional 30 minutes to arrive at the site. It was a hot and very sunny day and we were thankful for our hats, sunscreen and water. Once there, our tour guide walked us across the site, giving us a closer view of the main structures of the Caral complex. The hike around the site also gave us great views of the surrounding hills and green river valley, which is still an active agricultural area, growing watermelon, passion fruit, avocado and corn. Despite the heat, it was nice to be in a wide-open space after several weeks in Lima.
On the bus ride home, students had time to chat, process, and take a well-deserved nap. It has been an exciting and full first two weeks, and we are looking forward to more field trips, both inside and outside of Lima, next week.
Rachel, Aidan, Talia, Makena, Ian and Greta are ready to dive into Spanish under the direction of Professor Moises.
On Monday morning, students began the study portion of SST in earnest. In addition to beginning their Spanish classes, they heard lectures on Peruvian history since its independence, the natural resources of Peru, and the social problems in marginalized urban areas. These lectures were enriched by personal stories from GC service coordinator, Wily Villavicencio, about his life in the highlands and his migration to Lima as a boy, as well as a first-hand account from Willy’s sister, Corpusa Villavicencio Zela, about her participation in an invasión — the process by which hundreds of people squat on unused land in hopes of eventually being allowed to stay. Students also completed a market assignment in which they got a list from their host families and purchased all the ingredients to make a Peruvian dessert together with their family. And last but not least, by Wednesday, they had all learned how to successfully navigate public transportation to and from classes on their own.
Our weekly learnings culminated in a field trip to Cono Sur, or the southern cone, which is the name for the outlying areas of southern Lima. Economic insecurity and violence over the past half-century caused intense migration from rural areas into the outskirts of Lima, and the population has soared in these areas to the north, east and south of Metropolitan Lima. Though the more established areas of the conos now have water, electricity and some paved roads, the neighborhoods on the hillsides are still very poor and lack basic services. Much of what the students learned in their lectures about Peruvian history, natural resource distribution and the consequences of migration to urban areas are played out in the daily lives of residents in the conos. Over sixty percent of Lima’s population resides in these outlying areas.
Our first stop was a visit to an organic garden project in the district of Villa Maria del Triunfo. This initiative began over 30 years ago, when women living in extreme poverty in the community partnered with the power company to convert unused spaces under the powerlines into vegetable gardens. We spoke with Señora Gregoria, who is the director of this particular garden. She said that today over 1,500 people benefit from these community gardens, which were once crime-infested spaces full of trash. About 40% of the food grown is consumed by neighborhood families and the rest is sold for income in the more affluent areas of the city where organic produce will fetch high prices. While at the garden, students worked on two projects. One group worked with bocachi, a soil additive made of yeast, sugar, lime, chaff and ash which allows the workers to grow vegetables in the sandy soil. The other group helped prepare soil for two large raised beds by sifting trash and debris out of the sand and carrying it to the containers, where further organic material will be added so it can produce food.
After working in the garden, we traveled just a few minutes away to the home of Alicia Taype, GC program assistant, who lives in Villa Maria. Alicia treated us to anticuchos, a popular Peruvian street food of grilled chicken and beef heart skewers. Afterward, Alicia’s daughter, Yuliana, set up a net for us and we had an impromptu game of volleyball.
Our last stop was to visit Cristo Redentor Anglican church in San Juan de Miraflores, another district in Cono Sur. This church partners with Compassion International to run a program for over 300 children in the neighboring area, offering food and educational assistance in the form of school supplies and tutoring. We shared a brief worship time with the children and volunteers and then enjoyed a game of soccer with some of the teens who participate in the program. Students were then dropped off by our bus at various points along the route and took public transportation home, where they will spend the weekend with their host families. Since it is summer vacation, many host families will spend time outside of Lima — at the beach, in the countryside, or visiting family.
We have spent a packed three days here in Lima getting ourselves ready to meet the delights and challenges that await us this semester. We have practiced public transportation, made purchases using a new currency, ordered in restaurants, and had many new words rolling around on our tongues and in our brains. It has been a wonderful three days of intense learning and a great start to our semester in Perú.
Day 1 — Thursday
Our first stop after leaving the hostal was a casa de cambio (money changing business) where each student turned some of the dollars they brought from home into Peruvian soles. Once at Casa Goshen, we did a brief overview of the components of our course of study for the semester. Students on Perú SST receive course credit for courses in Spanish language, Intercultural Communication, History and Culture of Perú, Arts and Literature, and the Natural World of Perú. Over the course of the semester, students will complete extensive reading assignments, attend Spanish classes three to four afternoons a week, write journals, take quizzes, give speeches, and complete a research project on a topic of interest in Perú.
At lunchtime, we left all thought of syllabi behind and took a short stroll to the malecón, a walkway and park system running along the coast of Lima. After enjoying a picnic lunch together, we took the long stairway down the cliffs and across the highway to the rocky coastline. We had a chance to listen to the waves, search for interesting stones, and build cairns. After walking ALL the way back up those stairs, we returned to Casa Goshen for a fruit-tasting prepared by Alicia Taype, GC program assistant and caterer. Students got to sample a variety of the amazingly sweet, sour, creamy, and seedy fruits currently in season in Perú.
During our next orientation session, students created “What’s wrong with this picture?” skits based on the information in their orientation handbooks. Students succeeding in creating many problematic scenarios which they have assured us they will NOT emulate. Later in the afternoon, Lima Study coordinator Celia Vásquez gave students a True/False Quiz about Peruvian culture, where students learned about kissing on the cheek, ‘Peruvian time’, how to enter and exit a room, and just how long a party can go on in Perú.
Day 2 — Friday
On Friday, we got to do some touring in the historic center of Lima. We were able to get permission to tour the Palacio del Gobierno (Government Palace), which is open to visitors through an application process. The Government Palace is the official residence of the Peruvian President and also the central seat of the Peruvian government. From there, we toured the Convento Santo Domingo, a monastery which is the burial site for Santa Rosa de Lima and San Martín de Porres, Lima’s two most venerated saints. It was also the birthplace of San Marcos University, Perú’s first university and the oldest university in the Americas. A highlight of the tour was climbing the 400 year-old stairs up the bell tower for a 360º view of the city of Lima. We finished the tour just in time to return to the Plaza de Armas to catch the ceremonial changing of the guard, which happens every day at noon outside the Government Palace.
Day 3 — Saturday
We spent the morning in Óvalo Gutierrez, an area near Catedral Buen Pastor, the church where our classes are held during the study portion. Students completed a series of walking tasks in the vicinity of the Óvalo, such as asking for directions, comparing prices between international chain stores and local shops, and loading credit onto their Peruvian cell phones. They were all great observers, brave speakers of Spanish, and now have functioning phones to make calls to their directors and host families. After eating a menú lunch at a restaurant near the Óvalo, the students learned the walking route from the church to Casa Goshen.
Once at Casa Goshen, we were down to the nitty gritty, with information about how students will deliver payment to their families, how they will manage their transportation money and where they will be living. Students will be living in 11 different districts throughout Lima and will take all shapes and sizes of buses (and two students will also take a train!) to arrive at their classes every day. Lastly, students prepared to meet their families by practicing the pronunciation of their family members’ names and practiced greeting them in the Peruvian style.
At 4:30, we walked back to the hostal where a few families were already waiting to pick up their students. They were warmly greeted with hugs and kisses from the host families and within an hour, all students were on their way to the homes where they will spend the next five weeks. After spending the rest of the weekend getting acquainted with their host families, students will meet at the church bright and early on Monday morning for their first full day of lectures and classes.
Our 18 students arrived safely in Lima just a little bit after 10:30 p.m. After gathering up their luggage (and snapping this photo), we promptly delivered them to a hostel near our home. In the morning, we will walk them to our house, where we will begin an intense three days of orientation activities to get them geared up for their Peru pilgrimage. Welcome to Lima, Spring SSTers!
On Saturday morning, we left for Kawai, a retreat center about two hours south of Lima. We had time to share our stories, reflect on what we have experienced, and to prepare for our return home. Students also presented their research projects which showcased their areas of interest and fields of study. And of course, there was also time to swim, walk on the beach, play, make s’mores and enjoy our last days together as a group.
On Monday afternoon we returned to Lima, repacked our suitcases yet again, ate our last meal of pollos a la brasa, and headed for the airport. The return flight left Lima at 2:05 a.m. this morning, and by 2:30 this afternoon, the group was touching down in Chicago. As the Fall 2018 unit comes to a close, we are full of gratitude for the opportunity we have had to get to know each other, ourselves, and the amazing country of Perú. It has been a pleasure to walk this pilgrimage with you.
On Thursday evening, students from Ayacucho, Chanchamayo and Arequipa boarded overnight buses for Lima, and Cusco students caught an early morning flight the next day. By late Friday morning, our unit was back together in Casa Goshen enjoying breakfast, turning in assignments and catching up with their unit mates. The rest of the day was spent repacking, visiting Lima host families and resting at the hostel. In the evening, everyone returned to Casa Goshen for a Thanksgiving meal prepared by Alicia. We felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the safe return of every member of our group and for the experiences they have had over the last three months. On Saturday morning, we leave for a three-day retreat where we can relax, spend time with each other, and reflect further on what we have experienced during our time in Perú and what experiences await us back at home in the U.S.
Vianey, Jessi, Calista, Elsie, Sophia, and Lars are completing their service assignments in and around the city of Cusco. Cusco is located in the Andes of southeastern Perú at an elevation of over 11,000 ft. Cusco was once the capital of the Inca empire and is a major tourist destination. Inca stonework can still be seen throughout the city, blended together with Spanish colonial architecture.
Vianey is teaching English at Colegio Promesa, a private school in San Jerónimo run by the Mennonite church. Jessi and Calista are working at Colegio Don José de San Martín, a public school serving children with disabilities, including two classrooms for the deaf students. Elsie is working at CEBE San Francisco de Asis, a school for primary and secondary deaf students. Sophia is working at Huellitas Perrunas, a dog shelter outside of Cusco. Lars is living near the small town of Lucre, about 30 minutes outside of Cusco. He is working on his host family’s trout farm.
Haley, Kate, Amber and Samantha are living and serving in Arequipa, the second-most populous city in Perú. The city of Arequipa, located in southern Perú, is surrounded by three volcanoes and is a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful natural scenery as well as its many colonial structures made of white volcanic stone.
Haley, Kate, and Amber are working at Centro de Educación Básica Alternativa Polivalente, a public secondary school for deaf students. Amber is also working three days a week teaching English to primary students at Colegio San Francisco Rojas, a private, Christian school. Samantha is working at Policlínico Vásquez, a private clinic offering services in general medicine, gynecology, gastroenterology, pulmonology and other specialities.
Granadilla is one of the fruits that grows well in spots where the sierra (mountains) meets the selva (jungle).
Ben, Kyra and Genevieve are serving in Chanchamayo, a province northeast of Lima on the Amazonian side of the Andes. Chanchamayo is famous for its citrus and coffee production, as well as an abundance of wildlife in its steamy, jungle-like woods. Kyra and Genevieve are living in the town of San Ramón and Ben lives a short drive away in the city of La Merced.
Kyra is working at Clínica Elera, a private clinic in San Ramon that offers a wide variety of medical services and health screenings. Genevieve works at Puesto de Salud Naranjal, a small public health clinic in the more rural town of Naranjal. Ben is working at Fundo San José, a nature reserve and lodge dedicated to conservation and sustainable tourism.