You may have lived in AQP for five years if…


September 1 is the 5-year anniversary for Team Arequipa. That is hard to believe. I KNOW that I could add more to this list, but here are the ones I thought up for now:

1. Brown eggs look way more normal than white eggs.

2. You use avocado, red onion, roma tomatoes, and lettuce on all sandwiches year-round.

3. You can recognize the difference in tune from the trash truck and the recycling truck.

4. The trash truck music no longer makes you think of an ice cream truck immediately.

5. Seeing a llama is like seeing a cow on the side of the road. (It is that normal.)

6. You find yourself saying “it’s cold (when compared to the U.S., it really isn’t)” all the time.

7. You order your produce and baking ingredients from the market in the metric system with ease. You also know your own personal recipes in metric system measurements.

8. Your 3-year-old can use the word “sewage” in its appropriate context. (She also points out in passing any water out on the street, “Don’t step in it. It has poopoo and peepee in it.”)

9. Your one-year-old knows the correct way to hail a cab or get the combi to stop.

10. Your almost two-year-old demands to stand in the taxi holding on to the bar over the door. He does this because this is how people stand in the public buses.

11. You are finally comfortable showing up to a party one hour late.

12. When you plan a party, you are not surprised when people show up an hour late or later.

13. You have perfected stovetop popcorn and you comment or think frequently, “There is no going back to that gross microwave stuff.”

14. You have forgotten what good milk products taste like.

15. You use tons of high altitude recipes.

16. You have a homemade recipe for bisquick and stewed tomatoes.

17. Walking 2 miles to get somewhere is normal.

18. You can navigate the city in different combis in order to buy all the kids’ school supplies (without asking for help).

19. Your list of “Things I miss eating from the states” has dwindled from around 150 things to about 5–good Tex-Mex being right there at the top.

20. You have at least two children that have been born here and know that you can spore points immediately in a new relationship if you share that with Peruvians.

21. You can’t think of the English word for certain things, but the Spanish word comes automatically (it happens for me with spices and herbs).

22. You use “Si” and “entonces” accidentally when speaking in English.

23. You refer to evaporated milk as “Gloria.”

24. You are able to teach a visitor to make rocoto relleno and pastel de papas on Arequipa Day.

25. You know that there will be some type of drama every time you leave the country.

26. You no longer think it is surprising when the school asks you to rent a costume for your kids THE DAY BEFORE they are supposed to have it.

27. You don’t feel guilty about not completing homework assignments that ask ridiculous things because you know you have gained the reputation as “that parent” and they know you won’t do it.

28. Your kids beg to have Aji de Gallina every.single.week.

29. You have fallen in love with many people in the Peruvian culture, and it absolutely breaks your heart to think about leaving Peru.

30. You have lived through 5 summers of interns.

31. Peru will always be a part of you and known as “first home” to your three children.

Greg, Kyle, and Larissa, can you add anymore to the list???

You may have lived in AQP for five years if…

One week August 30, 2013

taken during our last furlough
taken during our last furlough

I am beyond excited to see my little sister tomorrow morning. She will fly into Arequipa at 7:30. It has been a year since I have seen any of my family. Katy is arriving, spending less than a week with us, and then she will be flying with the three kids and me back to the states. The only time Katy visited was when I gave birth to Maggie. That was more than FOUR years ago. So much has changed, and I am so excited to show her AQP again with new eyes.

I love going home to the farm.
I love going home to the farm.

I am beyond excited for our state-side visit as well. It has been a year since our last visit. Greg and I are scheduled to leave Peru permanently in 2015 so this is our last furlough for this run. It is definitely bitter-sweet to think that our return to Peru from furlough will also be our last for a long while. While in the states, we will be doing some visiting with TA 2.0 members (the families moving to AQP in 2014) which is really exciting.

Anyway… lots to be excited about.

good-ole airports
good-ole airports

I am not a fan of airports, and if I am honest, I always get a little nervous before flying. I worry which I know I shouldn’t. I worry about things that are out of my hands so worrying really doesn’t help anything. We have flown a lot since we live in a foreign country, but that hasn’t helped. And it always seems like we can never fly home without some sort of drama. Paperwork or delays or kids getting sick before leaving, etc. I thought I would record it this time around (especially since this is our last furlough to take for awhile)…

airport line

1. I noticed that there is only an hour and 40 minutes between my arrival to Lima and our departure to the states. If you account for possible delays out of AQP + waiting for bags to come out (which sometimes takes forever) + standing in line to check-in for the international flight + going through immigrations + hauling 3 kids through an airport, you can see my worry.

I am so thankful that Katy will be helping me with luggage and kids and that Lima is overly gracious to those of us with children (as in, they will see me with 3, guide me to the front of the line, and even escort me through immigrations if we are tight in making our connection). I am also thankful for my children. I really am not nervous at all about traveling with my kids. They are great travelers. Having mis-behaving kids is a stressor that I am so thankful that I DON’T have to deal with.


2. Peruvian law states that in order for a parent to leave the country with children without the other parent (and this applies to Peruvian citizens only–Maggie and Cohen are citizens), they must have a signed, notarized letter stating permission from the parent staying back. I have traveled with kids by myself two different times, and they always ask for the letter. I have a friend that traveled to Lima from AQP, and they refused for her to pass immigrations to catch her flight without the written consent of her spouse.

Greg and I went to the notary office yesterday. Of course, the notary had already gone home and today is a holiday. We were told that we could come on Monday to get it done. Easy-peasy, until the secretary told Greg something we weren’t expecting… “You need the birth certificate for each child.” That’s right. Their passport isn’t enough to prove they were born. You may think, “What’s the big deal? Just bring the birth certificate you have in your file at home.” We would, except that Peru has this crazy deal where birth certificates are only valid for 6 months. I guess it is one way they make money for the government (“Hey, let’s require people to show their birth certificates for every possible thing, but make it where they have to buy a new copy every half-year. Think of all the money that will bring in!”). Greg doesn’t remember us having to show their birth certificates the last time we got the letters. We are hoping the secretary is wrong.

We get home, and Greg realizes something else. Their birth certificates (proving that WE are their parents) have our residential visa numbers on them for the proof. Our residential visas expired this past year! They make you fingerprint everything here, so now we are hoping that they can identify us by our fingerprints. Never a dull moment.


So… I am so excited to see Katy. And I am so excited to be traveling to my home country. I am just praying that we get there without any major drama. It is out of my hands, and honestly, I am to the point in this culture where I laugh at the drama that unfolds every.single.time we have to do something like this. I am just praying that Katy arrives safely and that we arrive safely to the states (whether it be on-time or majorly delayed). We shall see. One more week.

One week August 30, 2013

sweet momentsAugust 2013

August 2013…

Ana (6), Mags (4), Cohen (2)
Ana (6), Mags (4), Cohen (2)

Ana Grace, last night you read the Bible story to the family.  Your reading is getting better and better, and as you read, you even like to point out how you would have written a sentence differently.  From the eyes of a momma that teaches reading comprehension, you make me so proud!  You complained of not being able to go to sleep (maybe too much Inka Cola at house church?).  We told you to go up to bed and try to sleep.  An hour later we were hearing a voice talking.  I went to check and see which child was “sleep talking.”  You had turned your bedside lamp on and were reading aloud.  The story I got to listen in on was “Are You My Mother.”  We are so proud of you, sweet big sister.

dressed for Arequipa Day
dressed for Arequipa Day

Maggie Kate, you love to get away with not working.  We are having to learn how to discipline you in this area since it isn't fair to your big sister.  Your teacher told me that you are more advanced than the other kids in many areas of learning, but you use an excuse that I hear too often.  You say, “But I am not big enough.  I am not 5 yet.”  You use this excuse when you don't want to do work or homework.  You are a little stinker!  But that work ethic didn't show in your memory verse this month.  You memorized (with much ease, I must say) your verse in Spanish.  Every day you would quote it aloud to whoever would listen.  When it came your turn yesterday at our celebration worship, you spouted it out in front of everyone with ease.  My goodness, it makes us proud.  You are a big girl!  And I cannot wait to see all of those “smarts” used for the glory of God.

dressed for Arequipa Day
dressed for Arequipa Day

Cohen Timothy, my little love bug.  You are at such a precious stage, and it will break my heart when you no longer want to hug and kiss me as much as you do now.  You are fascinated with moving vehicles, and you love to say the word of a vehicle you hear over and over and over until someone acts excited with you.  🙂  You are sure to place your cars and trucks into a purse and then put your purse in a backpack when we go out of the house.  You are talking so much, and it is so fun to be with you every day in this stage.  You also quoted your memory verse yesterday in front of everyone.  When by yourself, you say, “Jesus… dijo… camino!!!” and then you clap for yourself.  This morning you lined up all of your chairs, and said, “Thomas Train!”  Your sisters would have been putting their babies to sleep at that age.  I also don't want to forget that you love to say our visitor's name, Catherine.  But you say, “Cafrin.”  So cute!  We are so proud of our little boy, and we love you so much.

in your “train”
sweet momentsAugust 2013

Favorite Things—August 2013

1.  I have been jogging for 2.5 months now.  Two of my favorites for that activity:

  • the “Running Time” on my IPod shuffle (I can program it for 20 minutes, and a little voice tells me when 5 minutes is completed, half the time completed, etc.)
  • my wristband from R.E.I. (which is also super helpful for my combi money when I am out and about in town)

2.  Tunnel Bear (We have access to U.S., Japan, Britain, Canada, and German TV.  That means we can stream Hulu and we have 4 different Netflix options!)

3.  avacados (I can buy them year-round.  Our bodega one block away ALWAYS has some that are ready for that day.  I can eat a whole one with a little salt and pepper and be happy as a lark.)

4.  These books for our little boy:

  • The Little Blue Truck Series
  • Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
  • Push Here

5.  These books to read-aloud to my girls:  (I loved Roald Dahl as a child.)

6.  IPhone-to-IPhone texting (I can text any of my family or friends that have IPhones for FREE! anywhere in the world.)

7.  2 new food finds for me:

  • Mamut’s (delicious sandwiches)
  • French bakery (another NGO that sells croissants across from our cafe serves a braided pastry with bits of chocolate swirled into it.  Soooo yummy!)

8.  IPhoto slideshow feature (our executive director showed me this awhile back.  If I keep all of my photos organized in events folders, all I have to do is click on the folder, hit the “Play” slideshow button, and it looks like I spent hours on it.  It has been great to have when I need something formal to show a principal that is looking at the program.)

Favorite Things—August 2013

Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas


Today is August 15, the anniversary of Arequipa. Arequipa has some delicious food, and one of our favorite plates (and one they are known for) is Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas. Today was my first time to prepare this plate by myself.

rocotos are either green or red
rocotos are either green or red

The rocoto is a hot pepper that looks a whole lot like a bell pepper. Bell peppers are actually used for small kids since they have no spice (but not the McKinzie children). 🙂 The rocoto is gutted, stuffed with a flavorful meat mixture, topped with cheese, and baked to glorious perfection in the oven.

Pastel de papas can be compared to a potato casserole or scalloped potatoes. The distinct flavor, though, is the cheese that you buy from the market to use in it. Many restaurants serve pastel de papas with the traditional Rocoto Relleno.



  • 12 medium to large rocotos
  • 3/4 k thinly cut steak meat
  • 3 generous Tbs of Aji Colorado molido, or a mixture of spices (garlic, oregano, and cumin)
  • 2 boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 c of peanuts, chopped finely
  • 1/4 c of dark raisins
  • 4 large onions, diced finely
  • oil
  • fresh parsley, diced finely
  • cheese (queso serano)
  • evaporated milk (1.5 large cans)
  • 3 eggs

1. Ask a Peruvian expert cook. Manuela is my go-to-profesora. She taught me the best way to gut the rocotos and soak them to get some of the spice out. The day before cooking, you clean out the seeds and veins, remove the tops (so that you can place them back on top to bake), and place them in a bowl of water with the juice and skins of 5 limes and 2 tbs of red vinegar. You allow them to soak all night. ***Greg loves spicy food. I did not soak his rocotos at all. I gutted his two rocotos right before stuffing for baking.***

Manuela and I preparing the rocotos
Manuela and I preparing the rocotos


2. The next morning, rinse the rocotos, refill the bowl with water, add 1/4 c of sugar to the water, and place the rocotos back in the bowl to soak throughout the morning.


3. Preparing the meat mixture:

  • Dice and cut all of the ingredients…


diced peanuts
diced peanuts
finely diced onion
finely diced onion
finely cut parsley
finely cut parsley


  • heat the Aji Colorado until bubbly, add 2 Tbs of oil and stir until it is all the same color.


  • add the meat (with salt to taste) and brown.


  • add the onions and cook until translucent.


  • add everything else.


4. Remove peppers from sugar water, place in a colander, rinse, and then pour boiling water over the peppers to prepare them for baking. Place the pepper shells in a greased casserole dish.

5. Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture.


6. Add a piece of cheese and place the tops on the rocotos.


7. Mix the can of evaporated milk and 2 eggs. Pour them over the rocotos in the dish.


8. Bake at 475 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

after baking
after baking



  • 2 kilos red potatoes (papas rosadas)
  • 1/2 kilo queso serano
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 eggs (3 whole, 3 egg whites)
  • 1.5 cans evaporated milk
  • anis
  • 6 pads of butter

1. Clean dirt off of potatoes, peel, and cut into thin discs.

2. After buttering a deep 9×13 casserole dish, place one layer of potatoes into the dish.


3. Slice the cheese into fine layers. Add a layer of cheese over the potatoes.


Ana, my cheese helper
Ana, my cheese helper

4. Whisk the evaporated milk with the 3 whole eggs. Add salt and pepper. Pour some of the mixture over the first layer of potatoes and cheese.

Catherine, our beautiful visitor, whisking the milk and eggs.
Catherine, our beautiful visitor, whisking the milk and eggs.

5. Repeat the layers two more times, pouring the milk mixture over the 3rd layer.


6. Take the three egg whites, and mix them until stiff peaks form.


7. Spread the egg whites over the top of the potato dish evenly.


8. Now sprinkle anis over the egg whites.

my anis helper
my anis helper
almost finished
almost finished

9. Add small pads of butter onto the top of the egg whites, and bake for 1.5 hours at 350 degrees F.


The finished product…


Serve with a big stuffed rocoto!!!


Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas