How to Finish a 4 Month Adventure in Peru

I am sure you are all wondering... How exactly can you say goodbye to a country that you have stayed in for 4 months? Well I am glad you asked! Well let's start where most lists begin.

Number 1: After exams it would only seem appropriate to take a nice 5-day trip to Lima!

Number 2: Take a nice break from it all and head to the beach to take in some sun! If you are fortunate like many of us were, instead of our plan to relax at the beach, some men will stop you and offer you surfing lessons! They will spend the whole day teaching you how to surf and you can expect yourself to be very tired and sore at the end of your lesson.

Number 3: After some time lounging around it would be imprudent not to go around and learn a little about the city. So, be sure to visit some of the major landmarks in the city!

Number 4: Wake up the next morning, and just get on a yacht with your group! Oh yes! A yacht! Take a nice little cruise on the ocean until you spot sea lions! The only logical thing to do from here is to put on a lifejacket and jump into the freezing cold water and swim with these cute little creatures. If you are lucky you might be able to find a sea urchin and take a picture with it! Oh, be sure to put sunblock on because the majority of my amigos got BURNED!

Number 5: To finish up your stay.. how about you go to a water show in one of the parks in Lima! There are plenty of fountains with unique names and interesting stories. Later at night, there is a light/water show where pictures and short films are projected onto the water!! It is quite the sight!

Number 6: Travel over to the Lima airport to board the plane at 1 am. Travel for seven odd hours into Atlanta. Arrive to Atlanta flustered and in a rush because your next flight leaves for Grand Rapids in 40 minutes. Make the plane in spite the many doubts and arrive in your parents' arms soon after.

That is (more or less) How to successfully end a FANTASTIC adventure! We have learned so much about the country, each other and ourselves through this trip! God has given us the opportunity to share his love with others and also experience his love from people in South America.


Bull fights in Arequipa!

Well friends, we have less than one week left in Arequipa!! There are all sorts of mixed feelings about leaving this beautiful city! Regardless, we have been thoroughly enjoying ourselves! I am going to share with you all one fun experience that I had this past weekend.

This weekend Alex and I (pictured above) were feeling the effects of the flood of schoolwork and studying that  often come at the end of the semester, and decided to partake in one of the traditional Arequipan activities, la "Pelea de Torros" or the Bull fights.

After eating a delicious and enormous breakfast of "adobo" which is basically a delicious pork soup/stew, we departed for the stadium to watch the final championship fights! It was quite the experience! We arrived, bought our tickets, and entered the stadium, which had a beautiful view of all three mountains, and sat down to enjoy the show.

Volcano Misti in the background (oh by the way we climbed it last week!)

It was a full house! the stadium was packed for the championships

Now, it is important to note that these bull fights are not the violent bull fights that you may be thinking of. These fights, rather than being between a man and a bull in a "fight" to the death, are between two enormous bulls, and it is more a competition of strength and confidence of the bulls. The two bulls basically head butt one another, locking their horns together, and push back and forth with all their strength, until one bull gives up and runs out (quite literally) of the stadium.The fights would last anywhere from 20 seconds to 10 or 15 minutes, depending on how the bulls acted. The fights were actually incredibly humane and non-violent, which was good to see!

Here is a classic example of the two bulls going at it!

Huge bull

Alex and I at the stadium!


Here is a video for you all to enjoy! We saw multiple rounds of bull fights, rooting for bulls with names such as Rambo, Ben Hur, Zambo, Camaroon, Diablo Negro

This was the final round! It was actually quite exciting! Alex and I made multiple bets  on who would win throughout the day, and I am happy to say that I enjoyed a delicious Queso helado (ice cream) on Alex,  thanks to my chosen bull Zambo!

I hope you have enjoyed hearing all about my man date with Alex! We will be home in less than two weeks, and we have stuffed our suitcases full of llamas and are trying to stuff our last week in Arequipa full of adventure in the midst of finals. Prayers for energy and motivation! We miss you all and will see you soon!

Scott Stensrud


A Misti-cal Adventure!

 Last weekend a group of eight Calvin students decided to climb Misti, the 19,101 foot volcano (5882 meters) located at the edge of Arequipa. The volcano had been taunting us all semester, so it was about time! The first day consisted of hiking from the trailhead at 11,155ft (3400 meters) to Campo Pirámides at 15,125 ft (4610 meters). We arrived at camp around 5PM and had some fun taking pictures!

 A beautiful view from over 15,000 feet!

 El Campo Pirámides
 We enjoyed a beautiful sunset as we ate our dinner (soup and pasta). It was pretty chilly but luckily the agency provided us with some warm jackets and snow pants to keep warm. We also got to watch the city of Arequipa light up as the sun faded away.

 The next morning we had to start out at 1:00am...so its safe to say none of us really got any sleep. The climb to the top was tough. Unfortunately I got hit with a bout of altitude sickness and started throwing up and almost passed out...so I headed back to camp. But the rest of the group made it! Yay!
You did it!


Birthdays All Around!!

So Friday has come and gone. November 23. Guess what, y'all... that was my birthday!!
Well, mine and about a dozen of my birthday buddies around the world (and a few other million that I don't know). That includes my newest found birthday buddy, Carlos! He is another exchange student who goes to UCSP, originally from Mexico (and the "brother" of one of our own, Becca Mumby). We were born on the same day, same year, within the same hour. It's pretty awesome.

To celebrate, we had a small dinner at Becca's and Carlos's house (not too long or crazy, because we had some adventurers heading up our lovely Misti the next morning... hopefully one of them will tell y'all about that). But it was good fun. We had a wonderful cake (if for no other reason, have your birthday here so that you can have a cake from our favorite bakery, Cappricio) and Thanksgiving leftovers.

 Look at that Capriccio deliciousness!!
Also, look at Alex in the corner. Terrifying.

Yessir, birthdays as they should be. Becca's host family was very kind in letting us invade their home to celebrate. Even little Matias joined our festivities! He really wanted to blow out the candles, but was really shy about it... so we lit them like three times until he finally worked up the courage to blow it out (with help, of course).

We all clapped and cheered for him afterward.
He led the adulation.

Picture thanks to Jessica Hess.
I never actually take pictures of things.


Are you ready for some futbol?

Hello everybody! This is Hannah, reporting live from Arequipa, Peru! One of the very many things that I have enjoyed about our semester in Arequipa is our Sunday afternoon soccer games. On Sundays when we are in Arequipa, a group of us meet at Magnapata, a sports complex with lovely concrete soccer fields.  We invite our new friends from conversation groups and from classes at San Pablo to join us, and we play soccer until dusk. This has been a wonderful way to get to know more San Pablo students.

We have all improved a lot over the past few months, and we're on to our third soccer ball. The first two took quite a beating and did not survive.

This past week, we not only played futbol, but we also played some ultimate frisbee!! Our Peruvian friends caught on pretty fast, and we had a great time!!

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of us playing soccer or frisbee. But I have a little collage of pictures from this entire semester for your viewing pleasure!

Friends and family, thank you all so much for the love, support, and prayers! We love you all!!


It’s hard to catch your breath when the views keep taking them away.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World.
I am still in shock that we went to Machu Picchu and that we climbed a mountain! You know that Mountain in the back of all of those pictures of Machu Picchu? Yea, that one – it's called Hauyna Picchu, meaning young peak. After climbing the mountain, we explored Machu Picchu, which means old peak. We learned about the people that once lived there and the amazing architecture that went into building the city.

The top of Hauyna Picchu!
                                                              Now that I got that out of way, that’s not all we did this weekend. Thursday morning we arrived at our hotel in Cuzco after an all night bus ride from Arequipa. We visited many Incan ruins, one that we visited was the town and temple of Ollantaytambo. The temple was built in the shape of a llama and during the solstice the sun reflects off the Incan face in the mountains to light  the "eye"  of the llama.  We never ceased to being amazed at how smart the Incans were – the precision, accuracy and mere size of their structures was mind blowing. After an exhausting day touring Machu Picchu we saw an other Incan ruin, Sacsayhuaman. Just once again proving how incredibly talented and remarkable they were.
Learning about history and hidden stories that this world wonder and the Incan ruins have was absolutely fascinating.  The views and the experiences are going to stay with me for the rest of my life and I am sure everyone else on this trip. 


And the Adventure Continues!

I, also, am not a blogger, but I'll do my best. Here is a snapshot of what we have been up to the past few weeks:

A few of us signed up for a Peruvian cooking class. We all got super awesome hats and aprons and made some really amazing food. The bottom picture is of a mixed seafood dish, in the pot in the picture above that is Ají de Gallina, sort of a puree of chicken, spicy peppers, onions, garlic, milk, and cheese that we ate over boiled potatoes. We also made queso helado (ice cream) and pisco sour (a coctail with local liquor). Everything was delicious!

We also went to Cusco and Machu Picchu this past week! The majority of us climbed Huayna Picchu also, which is the mountain next to Machu Picchu and the high peak right behind the city in the bottom photo. The top photo is the peak of Huayna Picchu, the second is Scott standing on the peak, and the third is a shot of some of the stairs going down the mountain. What an experience!