Pt. 2 Pozuzo, the best decision ever.
Be sure to read the part 1 of this trip before continuing! You don’t want to miss out on a thing!
All that I could feel was ecstasy. From the minute I was greeted at the ranger station in Yanachaga Chemillen, one of the 11 national parks of Peru, till the moment I was back in my home, laying in my bed, where in only my drowsiness could I pretend to notice the smell of the jungle. It was a thin, bare road between Oxapampa and Pouzuzo, lined with jungle thickets and steep mountains. All that was heard ove r the sound of our car was the mating call (wail) of the “Gallito de las Rocas” (please look this up yourself it’s quite amusing.) The rainfall was light, the sun at his brightest and the skies were clear till nightfall where the stars left one stunned and with a soar neck. Yes, folks, we were the lucky ones, but not because of the good weather. We started our journey with a plan to camp in the jungle, mark that off the list, check out the Germanic village of Pozuzo and head back to the homestead. But after the kindness of the rangers (who offered us more tents and cooking supplies), the indulgence of walking on a hanging bridge over a river, and the surprise that there was a hut with bunk beds, fully functional electricity (something of a rare bird pack in Oxapampa) a meditation hut, running water, 2 showers and 2 toilets, I basically just found treasure. So much we prized our finding, my group of friends and I, we decided that we’d stay for another day, and we’d invite the rangers to a meal.
We started everything by walking around the campsite. We arrived just in time to watch the Gallito de las Rocas do its mating dance. Everyday around 4:00pm they would arrive on the same group of trees to dance for females hidden in the bush bellow them. If a female finds them worthy, they mate and have their nest on the rocks bellow. Next to the gushing rivers where butterflies would play and small lagoons would form where one could skinny-dip and feel connected with their surroundings, if you’re the adventurous type of course. To get to the these rivers you would have to traverse down the mountains, on pathways originally constructed by the German-Austrian immigrants who had to chip away at the rock and clay to reach the water source. Now, you will see it covered in mosses and dressed with branches, both alive & dead, both large & minute. Along the highway between our campsite (Rainforest lodge) and Pozuzo you would find waterfalls with water so cold, yet so inviting, after combating with the stubborn heat waves of the sun.
But please, this is a food blog, right? So let’s not forget to mention the particularity of the food in Pozuzo. It’s German food. Something not so surprising were you to enter the village. The people are all, well, white. Now please don’t read off my statement as racist, but if you drive from Lima to Pozuzo, you’ll understand why a Caucasian face would lift an eyebrow. The people here are very proud of their Germanic heritage and try to preserve it as much as possible. They teach German in the schools, they celebrate German festivals, listen to German music, and even have their own beer factory (the bare necessities one would think). But in their food, as much as in their other factions of culture, there is a relentless fusion. “El Tipico Pozucino” was a curious restaurant. Apart from being the only one in town who accepted Visa, it came with it’s own historian. An old man who was the owner, his daughter ran the restaurant now and he spent his time drinking quito quito juice and telling the visitors stories of his life. He began to show us books he wrote about the history of Pozuzo, how it started, why it started. Then (of course) I asked him about the food. He told us it was the food his parents would make for him after school when he would come back from classes at the church. He said that everything back then was German, the way people dressed, the language that was spoken, and the things people ate. Everything was delicious, and nothing tastes better then sausage and fried plantains, gritty and sweet, paired off with a flavorfully acidic potato salad that was perfectly cooked (sometimes the potato can overcook and it can be a mess.) They used a royal lemon (the orange lemons I talked about in pt.1) instead of the traditional vinegar as a condiment to fight back the excess fat, amazing how something so subtle speaks a lot about this place. The goulash was made with aji panka instead of the typical paprika and so on so on there was proof of a cultural collaboration. When I was walking around I came across another thing I don’t see often outside of the cities/towns in Peru, an artisanal ice cream maker, or well, as artisanal as it gets. He would make an ice cream base out of something different from the area, be it mint, quito quito, lucuma, cacao, or coffee. He was quite popular with the locals too.
Quite honestly I don’t believe enough time was spent there. I needed to feel like I was one with the environment; my body craved a sensation of total zen where the physical, spiritual, and natural all collided. Sadly I don’t think such nirvana is/was achievable in 2 nights. As I left the national park I should’ve felt sad, but I was so consumed by the memories, relishing the moments I would talk about them, that I just didn’t have the capacity to. One of those magical places you just don’t forget.
If you want to know more about the park, check out the link here (in spanish)
For more about the restaurant “El Tipico Pozucino” go here and check out their facebook!