Christmas Eve on the edge of the jungle

I came to Puerto Maldonado from Cuzco by bus. Another night spent on the road. From the bus station I took a mototaxi – a kind of rickshaw with a motocycle instead of a bike. I had a plan to spend Christmas in the jungle with indigenous people. When I saw an open tourist office, I came in for some information. Sometimes even there they can help you. I got an advice about the hotel.


The nativity scene from Puerto Maldonado. On the left in the bottom there is an armadillo. There were also a puma and a capybara around.


Hospedaje Moderno. Described by the guy from the tourist office as the oldest building in the street. I found it immediately. Wooden stairs, peeling paint and mosquito nets instead of window glasses – exactly the ambiance I was looking for in the South America.


The “Modern” Hotel in Puerto Maldonado.


I still wanted to spend Christmas in an indigenous village. In the toursit office I was told that I could sail on a boat on Christmas Eve morning with he load of gifts for the children… for 150 soles (about 40$). I didn’t like the idea, because it would deplete my budget for the following week.

I tried to get some info in my hostel. The owner promised to get it till the evening. Comunidad nativa Infierno. A native community called Hell upon the Madre de Dios (Mother of God) river. A perfect place for Christmas… I decided, however, to stay in Puerto Maldonado. I didn’t feel well, I had stomach problems for few days and the middle of the rainy season was still reminding itself. The owner invited me to Christmas Eve supper.


The weather during the Christmas.


Of course, Christmas means food. Christmas Eve supper was, in fact, a Christmas Day meal, because it started at 10.30 pm, after the mass in the cathedral. The table wasn’t full of different dishes. The food was simple but festive – roasted pork, potatoes and apple salad. We started with sparkling wine, then some regular one and Peruvian liquor – pisco. Peru and Chile has been conflicted over it for many years. Both countries consider this grape brandy similar to Italian grappa their national alcohol.


Christmas Eve supper.


Peruvians have their Christmas carols. Obdulia, the owner of the hostel, told me, that although she remembered singing them from the previous years, the tradition and the Christmas ambiance got blurred over the years. I couldn’t, however, help myself and sang two Polish ones. We spoke about Polish and Peruvian traditions, politics (especially about the president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who has Polish origins and isn’t, at least in Obdulia’s family, much liked) and upcoming visit of the pope Francis.


At the table. Cesar, a policeman invited in the same way as me. Obdulia, the owner and Heyner, her husband. Their children, Lida and Gonzalo, and Andres, a friend and an employee of the hostel.


At midnight there were fireworks and petards like at New Year’s Eve. I asked till hen they were going to celebrate. “Till morning!”, answered Heyner, rising another toast fo the Christmas with a glass of Peru libre – pisco with Coca-Cola.



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