Alpine-influenced Peruvian jungle town hosts music festival
Music festival in Oxapampa 2010
Photo by Lorena Flores Aguero/Flickr
Located in the high jungle region nine hours from Lima, the small town of Oxapampa sits amidst lush mountains, sinewy rivers, and roaring waterfalls. Last weekend this small town hosted a music festival called Selvámonos for the second year in a row.
The goal of the festival is to decentralize the arts in Peru and take Peruvian artists out of Lima and to other parts of the country. The festival was held at the lovely and pastoral Ruffner Ranch, just a three sole moto-taxi ride from the main plaza in Oxapampa.
During the day young and old gathered to eat an interesting mix of traditional Peruvian dishes accompanied with German pastries and beer. While festival attendees enjoyed the food, family-friendly entertainment like a puppet show, rodeo, and a Paso horse show kept guests entertained.
Once it became dark, the families slowly went home and the rest stayed and danced the night away to the musical acts of Jean Pierre Magnet, Andres Prado, La Sarita, and La Mente, who all put on excellent shows on the temporary stage erected for the occasion.
Far off the beaten path, at first glance it may seem that the rural town of Oxapampa might be an unusual place to host a music festival. But, with a little more investigation, it becomes clear that this town has an interesting history which has created a diverse and accepting community ideal for an international festival.
In the early 1850s the Baron Damian Freiherr von Schutz-Holzhausen signed an agreement with the Peruvian government allowing 10,000 German settlers from Tyrol and Prussia to relocate to the Alto Huallaga area of Peru. The colonists took a four-month journey from Germany to Lima, where their plans were derailed by the emerging civil war and the realization that the road to their new settlement hadn’t yet been built, despite assurances to the contrary from the Peruvian government.
Most colonists stayed in Lima, but around 300 plucky ones left for the Port of Huacho, some 150 km north, where they were put into quarantine. From here, they crossed the coast, the Andes, and then traversed the dense jungle, building the path themselves on what turned into a two-year journey. Only 170 of the colonists managed to reach the town of Pozuzu. In 1891, a few of the colonists left Pozuzu and founded nearby Oxapampa.
Today, the two cities have a unique and harmonious blend of Peruvian and German culture. Traditional German houses can be seen throughout this high jungle area and brunette children wear dirndls and lederhosen while they dance traditional folk steps right alongside their blonde peers.
Many of the residents create delicious coffee, cheese, and honey which can be purchased in the town square for a fraction of the cost as the same products in Lima.
There is free camping at the festival on Saturday night and free campsites in Oxapampa. However, it did rain and those of us with cheap tents were forced to flee our campsite and take shelter in the last remaining hotel rooms in Oxapampa.
For further information about the festival, see the event blog: http://selvamonos.blogspot.com/
Oxabus and Expreso Lobato both have overnight buses from Lima to Oxapampa that take between 9 and 11 hours. Oxabus has nicer buses, but the express Lobato bus is faster. Tickets range from 50 soles to 70 soles.
Tickets to Selvámonos festival can be purchased in advance for 20 soles at various locations around Lima.