The team of our ecolodge «Cordillera Escalera» always keeps their eyes on the ball in our region and respects local traditions! Although many events this year have been canceled due to quarantine, we have not forgotten the two main dates – the birthdays of the department of San Martin and of the city of Tarapoto. These holidays are closely connected to our ecolodge, because they always give many unforgettable impressions to our guests. So, a little bit of a history!
September 4 marks the 114th anniversary of the Peruvian government’s decree establishing the Department of San Martín, where the ecolodge «Cordillera Escalera» is situated. And two weeks earlier (August 20), the largest city in the region, Tarapoto, celebrated its 238th birthday.
Now, at a time of general fears due to the coronavirus pandemic and the long months of isolation and holiday bans associated with it, Tarapoto locals are very missing two birthdays, which usually merge into a single celebration with processions, fairs and performances. For two weeks, not a day goes by without a concert by local and invited musical bands. The main place of the celebration is usually the central stadium in Tarapoto. These two weeks, the inhabitants of the region literally live in one breath.
Local traditional dances are an integral part of a double birthday. And how! What a South American holiday can do without fiery rhythms! One of the most famous dances in the region is called «Madre de las Ponas»: it is dedicated to the Mother of all Ponas palms. Its performers dress up in clothes made from natural palm fibers, and place a «mother» palm tree in the center of the dance floor.
The main meaning of the dance is to express gratitude to all the palm trees, because these plants have long been a source of food, clothing and shelter for indigenous peoples. Today, the palm tree can be considered the «breadwinner» of the department of San Martin: according to statistics, 91% of American oil palms (lat. Elaeis oleifera) in all of Peru are grown here. Of course, this brings the region a stable income: not only edible oil is made from this plant, but also a medicinal extract for dandruff and hair loss, as well as livestock feed.
The double celebration is famous not only for dancing! During it, there is always a very large selection of snacks, hot dishes and drinks. Many of the local specialties are exotic not only for foreigners, but even for residents of other regions of Peru. It is cooked on the street, serving hot Suri caterpillars baked on skewers, rodent kebabs from Majas rodents (also known as Agouti, grows the size of a rabbit) and the famous Tacacho balls made from mashed green bananas baked in charcoal with pork bacon, paprika, pepper and tomatoes.
From drinks, as a rule, they prepare traditional Masato de Yuca – fermented yucca broth, Chicha – black corn compote and a large assortment of alcoholic liqueurs on local sugarcane moonshine.
Unfortunately, this year the two-week celebration did not take place for known reasons. However, the locals believe that next year they will be able to resume their wonderful tradition! And our ecolodge «Cordillera Escalera» will delight guests with unusual dishes of the Amazonian cuisine, specially prepared for the time of the holidays.