It's a liiiitle late for this blog since I took this trip over a month ago. I actually was talking to Mervi (my travel buddy for this trip) while we were in Oxapampa about how ridiculously busy we would be immediately after getting back from this trip. Aaand we were right.
We opened our kids' center in the first week of July, and as with any new project we've been occupied with working out the kinks, and then being a little short of volunteers in August didn't help much either.
But now things are settling down and here's the blog post!
Wooden church in the Oxapampa main square (plaza de armas)
Inside the wooden church
The municipality building looking kinda like a Southern mansion
Oxapampa is a town in the coffee- and chocolate-producing "selva alta" (high jungle) region of Pasco, Northeast of Lima. It's about 8 hours by bus from Huaycán, probably 9 from any bus station in downtown Lima (definitely a perk of living in Huaycán - all the busses going East and Northeast have to go by it anyway because it's right on the Carretera Central). It's most known for its proximity to the Austro-German colony of Pozuzo and the Yanachaga Chemillen national park, which is full of rare birds and monkeys and tapirs, among other wonderful jungle creatures.
Plaza de Armas de Oxapampa
Fantastic gigantic jungle trees
Oxapampa is a smallish town in a kind of jungle valley. There's not a whole lot to do there besides buy "selva" foods like honey, aguardiente (cane liqueur), and coffee in the plaza, or eat lots of German-Peruvian food. It's basically where Limeño tourists flock during Fiestas Patrias (Peruvian independence day) to see Pozuzo and escape the gloom and chill that descends upon Lima in that time of year.
Tourist shop selling Austro-German clothes
Chainsaw art demonstration near the plaza
Group of Austro-German traditional dancers performing near the plaza
We basically saw all the highlights of Oxapampa in one day - ate some food, drank some beer, saw traditional dancers and chainsaw artists, and climbed up to the "mirador" above town to see the views. It was lovely, but I wouldn't stay there more than a day unless I was going to be off in the jungle hiking all day.
Beautiful blue skies next to an Oxapampa house - the arquitecture was distinctive with its wooden houses and sloped roofs, where most houses in Peru have flat roofs.
View of Oxapampa from the mirador
There were a couple great murals in town, too
The second day, we went to Pozuzo with Impala tours. Pozuzo is great, I loved it and would love to visit again! But the tour was kinda meh, too many people who wanted to take too long taking photos of waterfalls on the side of the road, not enough time to wander at our leisure. I later found out from our friend Pedro that you can just take a colectivo (a type of van bussing system) to and from Oxapampa for much cheaper. He didn't say where to get it, but he said ask any mototaxi driver and they would know. I like the idea of returning to Oxapampa and taking a colectivo to Pozuzo to hang out there for several days. Let me tell you why Pozuzo is great.
"Welcome to Pozuzo" in German and Spanish - the entrance gate to Pozuzo.
Signs on the gate to Pozuzo: "The only Austro-German Colony. Founded 1859)
Pozuzo is in the "selva baja" or low jungle several hours away from Oxapampa. In 1859, Austrian and German settlers arrived here and created the town. They were called to Perú by the Peruvian government after in 1854 Asian immigration was limited, allowing for higher European immigration. Peru solicited Austrians and Southern Germans as they were Catholics like the majority of Peruvians, and promised any immigrants land in the jungle East of Lima as a means of expanding Peruvian governmental control further East and bringing agricultural labor to that area. So the Austrians and Germans who elected to come, led by Father Joseph Egg, took a grueling trip from Europe around the Tierra del Fuego up to the port of Callao in Lima. The Peruvian government was supposed to have prepared for their arrival more, but basically when the immigrants arrived the government broke the news that the land was still theirs if they wanted it, but the government neglected to create the roads to their destination that they were supposed to. Despite this issue, from Callao they went to another port further north called Huacho. Then they continued the journey on foot - at first on Peruvian built roads to Acobamba, and then after the roads ended they had to clear their own way through the jungle to get to the land the government designated to them, which they eventually called Pozuzo.
It was extra interesting traveling with Mervi, who speaks German fluently, as she spoke with a couple people in German. She found out from one of the men dressed in leiderhosen in the museum that he was actually from Bavaria, and that many German-speaking Europeans come to Pozuzo to work in the tourism industry posing as Pozuzo residents. She did also speak to the brewery owner, who was a Pozuzo resident, in a mix of Spanish and German, reporting that the little German she heard from him was different from the modern kind she spoke.
Río Pozuzo which runs around Pozuzo
View from the Plaza de Armas
Statue in the Plaza de Armas
Joseph Egg's grave in the Pozuzo cemetary
Museo Schafferer - A small museum about Pozuzo's history
Distinct architecture of the area
Pozuzo is a beautiful, sunny, tiny town in the jungle surrounded by dense jungle mountains and the Río Pozuzo. It's occupied by many frankly Texan looking people speaking Spanish with blue eyes and sandy brown or blond hair, many of the young men wearing cowboy boots and hats and riding horses around town. It was a weird mix of Germany, a Western rodeo, and Peru. There was a German style brewery and sugar cane liqueur schnapps to boot.
But I loved it. It was beautiful, the people were friendly, the food and beer was good, and there were various places to hike or relax in a hammock. Pozuzo is a pretty ideal vacation spot. I really would like to go back.
Even though we spent too long at these on the tour on the way to Pozuzo, there were lots of beautiful waterfalls and jungle scenery on the way.
All in all, the food was great between Oxapampa and Pozuzo as well.
Tried to get goulash at Carolina Egg restaurant...they were out, so sad :( I've heard it's great though.
German and English beers and espresso at Ceja de Selva cafe next to the plaza. Mervi and I were pretty thrilled - she got her German wheat beer, I got my English IPA, and we both got a dose of caffeine. They also sell great German style cheese, chorizo, and very very tasty cheese & chorizo empanadas.
GREAT breakfast the first day at Maury's on the main plaza. Fried yuca, fried plantains, german style chorizo, corn bun, and local coffee, ummm yes??
Oxapampa and Pozuzo had a lot of strudel. Very odd strudel. It was like a dense white bread with banana jam inside. I neither liked nor disliked it, if that's possible.
The owner of Dörcher Bier brewery in Pozuzo serving up some pretty fantastic pilsens. I swear this man came right out of Western Colorado.
Having German potato salad, meatballs, and sausage at Recreo El Mirador, as part of our tour. It was good, but you could probably find better.
Final word? Pozuzo is great. I want to go back. You should check it out when you have the chance. Peru really does have much more than Machu Picchu to offer in its variety of environments and cultural heritage.