A little over ten years ago I was living, as a missionary, in a small community outside of Ica, Peru. It is a very arid region, but this particular community was largely agricultural. People grew grapes, mangos, guava, pacay, asparagus, and more. We would travel to visit with people deep in the fields. We usually timed these visits with one of the two daily buses that travelled these back roads. We would make our visits and then walk to a handful of reed and mud brick homes to catch the return trip. Unfortunately, we often missed the bus and so we’d have to walk about an hour and a half to return to where we lived and our dinner.
The dust from the dirt roads coated our clothing and shoes and the sun was hot until it set. My companion and I would sometimes talk as we walked, but since we were with each other twenty-four hours a day we sometimes ran out of things to say and would walk in silence. Sometimes our bags would be full of fruit given by generous people we had visited. Mango season was wonderful. I remember perfecting my mango eating technique, to avoid spilling juice all over my shirt and hands.
- Choose a ripe mango (ripe mangos are way softer than you typically find in North American stores).
- Squeeze and roll the mango to break down the fruit without breaking the skin (non-imported mangos have surprisingly hearty skin).
- Tear a hole in the non-stem end.
- Suck out the mango.
Walking through the fields had a similar hypnotic effect as driving through Kansas and watching the rows of crops go by. I did a lot of thinking on those walks, and though I arrived at my destination tired, I was happy. I remember those walks with a lot of fondness. Finding time to reflect and think in the same way has proven elusive and relatively rare for me since my time in Ica. However, when I can find such a moment, it is sometimes followed by a peculiar craving for mango.