My Selvámonos – Agnes: A first-time experience that won’t be its last

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After my 10 hour journey by bus, I stretched my cramped legs and heard my stomach growl, pleading for something to fill it. Soon the pain and hunger was replaced as I inhaled and my lungs began to fill with the crisp fresh air of Oxapampa. Perhaps more accurate a term than “crisp” would be brisk, as it was not yet 6 on this Friday morning and the clouds were still ringing out the last drops of rain. I was thankful for having worn my leggings and warm layers- a decision made more out of consideration for limited space in my backpack rather than the potential climate. Little did I know however that the clothes on my back at this moment would become my uniform for the entire weekend (which, honestly, continued on into Monday morning).

Such is the experience of many a music festival attendee perhaps, and here I was, ready for 2014’s Selvámonos. Or so I thought. With my partner in crime, Erick Andía, we set off to find breakfast. As we exited the terminal we asked for the direction to the town’s market. Opting to walk in order to familiarize with our new grounds, I was struck at how clean the town’s streets were almost as much as I was in awe of the green walls of trees that surrounded us in this valley.
Arriving to the market we found a dependably cheap and satisfying breakfast of warm quinoa with apple to drink and a cheese sandwich. Slowly my senses awakened, and I realized that the cheese, something simple enough, was even distinct from that of Lima. Then my ears popped open (the bus ride at times feels like a rollercoaster as you, and your stomach, take an up and down route), and nearby festival-goers formed and began a drum circle. Everything seemed natural enough (including the smell that began to itch at my nostrils, perhaps from the aforementioned circle of newly formed friends), as even the locals of Oxapampa didn’t seem to raise eyebrows, surely having been expecting such sights after consecutive years of hosting Selvámonos.

Having attended other events of similar types in the U.S., I was so happy to encounter that the (sorry to be cliché) feel good “vibe” of music and art festivals was something shared internationally. The easy and welcoming mood that I was met with on my first morning in Oxapampa carried on throughout the entire weekend, from when we entered the camp ground and everyone offered salutations, varying in language; during abruptly cold eveings when strangers made room for us to gather around one of the many large bonfires; until we checked out of our hostel on Sunday (call us cowards, but we were not prepared for the rain!) and the Spanish dueño hugged us goodbye.

Selvámonos was a great experience for obvious reasons such as the music and dance-filled late nights, but for myself served as a great reminder. I was reminded of lucky I am to live in Peru, a country that offers so much variance in natural landscape and environment that even this short weekend trip out of Lima made me feel as if I’d been away from the capital for weeks. Walking around the grass fields, encountering smiling faces and conversations filled with laughter, the festival also reminded me how beautiful happy people are. Away from the stress of work, traffic, general responsibilities, those who attended were able to spend the long weekend of entertainment with a shared attitude of positivity. To find that such a sentiment can be shared with a crowd of strangers, some of whom don’t even speak a shared language, and many of whom I may never see (or recognize) again, was rejuvenating.

*We’d love for you to tell us your Selvámonos story.* A festival always gives birth to new friendships, unique experiences… and thousands of stories. Share yours with us. ‘My Selvámonos’ is a chance for you to share your festival experiences with the pther ‘Selvámonies´and the world. The best bits, the worst bits, the strange and surreal. Was it what you’d expected? Had you been before? Will you come again? We want to know what it was like for you! Send in your stories, short or long, and photos to us at editor@peruthisweek.com. We’re waiting to hear from you!Agnes fell in love with Oxapampa on her first time there, when she went to Peru’s biggest music and arts festival, Selvámonos

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Agnes Rivera

A U.S. native plucked from the green surroundings of her home state of Oregon, Agnes Rivera has been living in Lima, Peru, fulfilling various occupations such as teaching, translating, and journalism. While indoors she uses her time creatively to build "recycled art" and read fiction, she is quick to use any excuse to be outdoors, balancing her inner home-body lifestyle with an adventurous spirit to explore all that Peru has to offer.